Despite prime minister Viktor Orbán’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, the Hungarian government has provided a record number of residence permits to non-EU citizens.

As kafkadesk reports, residence permits given to non-EU nationals rose to 117 000 in 2017; a staggering 113% increase from previous year’s figure (55 000). Emerging Europe calculates that leading among nationalities benefiting were Ukrainians (13 000 permits) and Russians (7000 permits given). These numbers stand in contrast to Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s official communication of calling immigration the greatest threat to Europe; a slogan that dominated his party’s European elections campaign.

Other EU countries that saw similar gains are Bulgaria (+41%), Slovakia (+21%) and Croatia (approximately 18%); northern countries like Sweden and Finland generally registered minor hikes while western and southern European states (Italy, Greece) even decreased their grant of residence permits. 

Everything added up, there was a net of 20.3 million permits given to non-EU citizens across the Union in 2017. Interestingly, three quarters of the total number were issued in Germany (23%), Italy (18%), France (14%), Spain (13%) and the UK (8%). 

One explanation to Hungary’s surprising numbers could be the labour shortage that the country is facing currently; a phenomenon apparently fuelled by the apparent exodus of young Hungarians to Western Europe.


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