Natural population growth has slowed in the EU. The death rates have remained largely constant, the birth rateshowever, have steadily declined. In contrast, migration flows are unstable over time, particularly depending on the economic development in the potential emigration or immigration regions. For a long time, there were large-scale migration movements from the structurally weak agricultural regions on the southern and western periphery of Europe, some of which showed particularly high natural population growth, to the centrally located industrial and service regions with above-average economic strength. However, such migration patterns can change quickly. Spain and Portugal, for example, were still among the immigration countries at the beginning of the 2000s, especially for migrant workers from non-European countries and the transition countries of Eastern Europe; today they are among the countries with the greatest migration losses. Ireland also experienced a similar trend reversal, which ten years ago still experienced a high level of immigration, but is now again characterized by high migration losses. Due to the discontinuity of these migration movements, the representations of regional migration balances are always only snapshots.

In addition to interstate migration, there are migration relationships within the individual countries. Former industrial locations and particularly structurally weak regions, which in Germany include parts of the new federal states, for example, often show emigration losses (cf. 81.5). Attractive target areas in almost all European countries are the respective capitals and the metropolitan regions with high economic strength.

In contrast to the migration movements, there are only minor regional differences in the natural population development within the individual states, which are mostly due to the peculiarities of the age structure or, as in Germany, to a change in social values. These differences are much more pronounced between the individual states than in a national comparison.

In addition to long-term migrations, there are also strong flows of commuters within the EU. The place of residence is not necessarily relocated, but people only live at the place of work seasonally or for a limited period of time. For more information about the continent of Europe, please check