Despite what is suggested by some newspapers, the biggest contingent was not from Afghanistan or Syria, but from Ukraine. A total of 302,772 Ukrainians fled the war there in 2014, and most (82 per cent) found refuge in neighbouring Poland.
Of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Syria features in sixth position and Morocco in fifth. Britain, which is supposedly clamping down on inward migration, was the most profligate in offering residence to Americans, Chinese, Indians and Brazilians.
In an analysis of the figures published in January by the Centre for European Policy Studies, Elspeth Guild writes that the number of first-residence permits issued each year in the EU from 2008 to 2014 has remained very stable, at just under 2.5 million per year, despite the upheavals of the Arab Spring. The figure may rise, however, in 2015.
She adds: ‘The member state that presents itself as the most migrant unfriendly, the UK, is actually the one that issues the largest number of first-residence permits to third-country nationals – 567,806 in 2014 compared with 355,418 in Poland, the next most-liberal issuer of first residence permits.’