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Over 16,000 UK citizens became EU nationals in 2018, more than doubling since Brexit referendum

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An anti-Brexit campaigner waves a European Union flag outside Parliament in London, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020.
An anti-Brexit campaigner waves a European Union flag outside Parliament in London, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
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The number of UK citizens who acquired the citizenship of an EU member state in 2018 reached over 16,000, latest figures reveal, more than double the amount registered in 2016 when the country voted to exit the bloc.

According to data released on Tuesday by Eurostat, Britons made up the seventh biggest recipients of EU citizenship in 2018 with 16,193 of them acquiring another EU nationality. The majority — 59% — became either German or French citizens.

The number of UK nationals acquiring an EU citizenship has sharply increased since the country voted to leave the bloc in a June 2016 referendum.

That year, more than 6,680 Brits were granted citizenship by another member state, a more than two-fold increase on the previous year when fewer than 2,650 did so.

The tally more than doubled again between 2016 and 2017 when more than 15,000 Brits were granted an EU citizenship.

The UK officially left the EU on January 31 2020.

New EU citizenships down for third year in a row

Overall, the 27 EU member states acquired more than 672,000 new citizens in 2018, down from 700,600 in 2017 and 843,900 in 2016.

Thirteen per cent of the recipients were former citizens of another EU member state, but the majority were non-EU citizens or stateless.

Citizens of Morocco made up a tenth of the new EU citizenships with the vast majority of them — 84% — acquiring Spanish, Italian or French nationality.

They were followed by citizens of Albania (47,400), Turkey (28,400), Brazil (23,100) and Romania (21,500).

The highest naturalisation rate — the ratio of the number of people who acquired the citizenship of a country over the stock of foreign residents in the same country — was found in Sweden.

The Scandinavian country granted 7.2 citizenship per 100 foreign residents. Completing the leading trio were Romania (5.6) and Portugal (5.1).

At the other end of the spectrum were Denmark and Latvia (both 0.6*, Lithuania (0.5) and Estonia and Czech Republic (both 0.4).