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Spain is home to quarter of new European citizens

Emma Anderson · 2 Jul 2015, 15:49

Published: 02 Jul 2015 15:59 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Jul 2015 15:49 GMT+02:00

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Nearly one million citizenships are granted across the European Union annually and almost 23 percent became citizens of Spain, according to a Eurostat report released on Wednesday.

At 225,800 this was the highest number of people given citizenship in any country across the EU, showed the latest figures relating to 2013.

Spain was followed in second place by the United Kingdom which gave citizenship to 207,500 or 21 percent of the total EU citizenships handed out.

A vast majority of those granted citizenship in Spain came from outside the EU with only 1 percent coming from another member state.

The biggest group of people granted citizenship in Spain came from Colombia at 17.2 percent, followed by Ecuador at 17 percent and Morocco at 13.4 percent.

Latin Americans seeking EU citizenship overwhelming wanted to become citizens of Spain with 97 percent of Bolivians and 95.2 percent of Ecuadorians applying for Spanish citizenship.

Sweden, Hungary and Portugal all had higher acceptance rates when it came to granting citizenship, each handing out citizenship to at least six people out of every 100 foreign residents.

Spain was not that far behind, giving citizenship to 4.5 out of every 100 foreign residents.

Still, while Spain may issue the highest number of citizenships across the EU, the Iberian peninsula has not been so open to asylum seekers.

Spain granted asylum to just 1 percent of the EU total last year and has complained about plans to share the responsibility of the influx of refugees across Europe through a quota system.

Individuals may apply for Spanish citizenship after ten years of residency, but refugees must only wait for five years and those coming from countries that once belonged to the former Spanish Empire need only wait for two.

Spain recently granted dual citizenship rights to descendants of the Sephardic Jews who were expelled from the country during the Spanish Inquisition about 500 years ago.

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Emma Anderson (emma.anderson@thelocal.com)

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