France 'to be most populated EU country by 2050'

12th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 12 (AFP) - France's population is growing much faster than expected and could reach 75 million by mid-century, making it the largest in the European Union, Transport and Development Minister Gilles de Robien said Thursday.

PARIS, May 12 (AFP) - France's population is growing much faster than expected and could reach 75 million by mid-century, making it the largest in the European Union, Transport and Development Minister Gilles de Robien said Thursday.  

The most recent census, which was conducted last year, revealed that the country's rate of population growth has risen steadily over the last 15 years and is now at a level - 0.68 percent per annum - not seen since the early 1970s.  

"Suddenly all our projections are well below reality. France could in fact have a population of 75 million by 2050," de Robien told Le Figaro newspaper.  

The country's statistics office INSEE has until now predicted a population of 64 million by mid-century. According to the 2004 census, France currently has 60.2 million inhabitants.  

The strong growth bucks the trend across most of the 25-member EU, where populations are generally falling because of low birth rates.   

In 2003 - the last year for which figures are available - the EU's overall population growth of 216,000 was almost entirely created in France, where numbers went up by 211,000, de Robien said.  

French growth is mainly caused by a birth rate of 1.9 babies per woman, and around a quarter by immigration, according to INSEE.  

If the predicted increase takes place, France will replace Germany in the coming decades as the EU's most populous country. According to UN projections, Germany's population is set to decline from 82 million today to 70.8 million in 2050.  

Britain is set to fall from 59.4 million to 58.9 million and Italy from 57.5 million to 43 million, according to the UN.  

Falling populations and increasing life expectancy have created widespread concern across the EU over how to finance welfare and pensions in the coming decades, with warnings that immigration will be the only answer.  

Changing population levels will also have implications for the distribution of voting power inside the EU's institutions.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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