Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, Thursday released data revealing that in 2021, 681,200 people were found to be in the EU illegally. The statistics also indicate that 139,000 non-EU citizens were refused entry into member countries, 342,100 were ordered to leave a member state and 82,700 returned to another country following an order to leave.
The data indicates that, while more non-citizens were found to be in the EU illegally than in 2020, more were permitted to stay. The former figure is up 22 percent from 557,500 in 2020. While the share of those present illegally rose, there was a 14 percent drop in those who were ordered to leave an EU member state. France topped the list, ordering over half of its non-citizens to leave.
The number of non-citizens refused entry remained roughly the same, up only 1 percent from 137,800 in 2020. The member states issuing the largest number of refusals were Hungary, Romania and Poland. Ukrainians accounted for the largest share of those refused. In November, the EU Court of Justice declared illegal a Hungarian law that criminalized organizational support for asylum seekers. This year, Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine has displaced about 6 million people, many of whom fled to EU member states, including Hungary, Romania and Poland.
The statistics underpin social and political movements that engulfed the EU in 2021. In France, there is a growing desire to shield the nation from foreign influence, resulting in bans on religious symbols, including hijabs, in courtrooms and at sporting events.