Eurostat has released fertility statistics for 2015.
Birth rates in Eastern Europe countries, since 2001, are rising fastest, though from very low levels. Birth rate also increased strongly in Sweden over this period.
Overall fertility rates are well below the replacement level and immigration is necessary to prevent a population implosion and an unsustainable ratio for supported population/working population. Eastern Europe is most resistant to immigration and is particularly vulnerable. Even though fertility rates have risen significantly, they are still among the lowest in Europe.
The age of women having their first child is also increasing (29 years) but surprisingly, is highest in Italy and Spain (31 years).
In 2015, 5.103 million babies were born in the European Union (EU), compared with 5.063 million in 2001 (the first year comparable statistics are available).
Among Member States, France continued to record the highest number of births (799 700 in 2015), ahead of the United Kingdom (776 700), Germany (737 600), Italy (485 800), Spain (418 400) and Poland (369 300).
On average in the EU, women who gave birth to their first child in 2015 were aged nearly 29 (28.9 years). Across Member States, first time mothers were the youngest in Bulgaria and the oldest in Italy.
Overall, the total fertility rate in the EU increased from 1.46 in 2001 to 1.58 in 2015. It varied between Member States from 1.31 in Portugal to 1.96 in France in 2015.
A total fertility rate of around 2.1 live births per woman is considered to be the replacement level in developed countries: in other words, the average number of live births per woman required to keep the population size constant without migration.
Total fertility rate below the replacement level of 2.1 in all Member States
In 2015, France (1.96) and Ireland (1.92) were the two Member State with total fertility rates closest to the replacement level of around 2.1. They were followed by Sweden (1.85) and the United Kingdom (1.80).
Conversely, the lowest fertility rates were observed in Portugal (1.31), Cyprus and Poland (both 1.32), Greece and Spain (both 1.33) as well as Italy (1.35).
In most Member States, the total fertility rate rose in 2015 compared with 2001. The largest increases were observed in Latvia (from 1.22 in 2001 to 1.70 in 2015, or +0.48), the Czech Republic (+0.42), Lithuania (+0.41), Slovenia (+0.36), Bulgaria (+0.32), Romania (+0.31), Sweden (+0.28) and Estonia (+0.26).
In contrast, the highest decreases were registered in Cyprus (-0.25), Luxembourg (-0.19) and Portugal (-0.14).
For the EU as a whole, the total fertility rate increased from 1.46 in 2001 to 1.58 in 2015 (+0.12).
First time mothers youngest in Bulgaria, Romania and Latvia, oldest in Italy and Spain.
In 2015, the mean age of women at birth of their first child stood at 27 or below in Bulgaria (26.0), Romania (26.3), Latvia (26.5) and Poland (27.0).
In contrast, this age was above 30 in Italy (30.8), Spain (30.7), Luxembourg and Greece (both 30.2).
Highest growth in number of births over last 15 years in Sweden, largest drop in Portugal.
In the EU, 40 217 more babies were born in 2015 than in 2001 (+0.8%). Across Member States, the largest relative increases were in Sweden (+25.6%), the Czech Republic (+22.1%), Slovenia (+18.1%) and the United Kingdom (+16.1%).
In contrast, the highest decrease was in Portugal (-24.2%), followed by the Netherlands (-15.8%), Denmark (-11.1%), Romania (-10.4%) and Greece (-10.2%).