How Europe moves

In 1968 the freedom of movement for workers within the EU was introduced.

How are European citizens nowadays making use of the possibility to move and work in other European countries?

This visualisation shows the European citizens of working age living in another European country (2017)

In 2017 almost 13 million European citizens of working age were living in a European country other than their country of origin.

Looking at the migration flows it is easy to see that many people left their country of origin to work in countries that offer better job opportunities than their own (emigration from Eastern countries and Portugal). While these are mainly "departing" countries, in other countries the rates between immigrants and emigrants are almost in balance as is the case in Italy, the Netherlands and Ireland.

Although at first sight Germany and the UK are evidently the countries which received the largest number of immigrants, when taking into account the rates between immigrants and working-age inhabitants, the picture is very different. The country that received the largest share of workers is Luxembourg (45%), followed by Switzerland (19%), Ireland (12%) and Cyprus (11%).

According to the "2018 Annual Report on intra-EU Labour Mobility" not all people stay in the host country for ever, a part of them return to their own country. In 2016 around 700.000 nationals of EU-28 and EFTA countries returned to their country of origin. Especially in countries where the outflow of migrants is very large, there seem to be a large return rate: in Romania 69% returned compared to the number of nationals leaving the country, while in Poland the percentage was 49%.


Migration Flows: Stocks of EU-28/EFTA movers of working age (20-64), by citizenship and by EU-28/EFTA country and EU-28/EFTA aggregates, total numbers, 2017, from the "2018 Annual Report on intra-EU Labour Mobility" (table 30).
Important note: Data for Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, and Romania are below reliability limits. Flows with low reliability are indicated in the tooltip.

Countries population (used for percentages): Eurostat
DATASET: Population by sex, age, citizenship and labour status [lfsa_pganws] Age: from 20 to 64 years, Citizen: total, Sex: total, WSTATUS: Population

Created by

Roxana Torre, roxana (at)