This map shows how Europe's population changed and shifted in the first decade of the 21st century

An extract from the BBSR's map of Europe's changing population.

Immigration – I know this sounds unlikely, but bear with us a moment here – is in the news rather a lot at the moment.

For one thing, there's the Mediterranean migrant crisis, which EU leaders are meeting to discuss this week. Then there's the non-stop thrill ride of Britain's debate over whether or not it's a good idea to alienate the entirety of the continent just across the English Channel; one of the main arguments put forward by the Eurosceptic and definitely not racist right-wing party UKIP is that pulling out of Europe would give us back control of our borders.


This, though, isn't the only demographic story playing out in Europe at the moment. While Britain debates how to handle population growth, other countries are facing a crisis brought on by emigration and falling birth rates – a gradual depopulation of the sort that could utterly wreck welfare systems.

What this movement of people looks like across an entire continent can be hard to visualise. Lucky, then, that someone has done it for us.

To be specific, it's the good people of the Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung – or, if your German's a bit rusty, the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs & Spatial Development.

The BBSR, as all the hepcats of Germany's sexy young demographic forecasting community like to call it, has produced a map, showing how the population of every municipality in Europe (LAU2 units, to use the technical name) changed between 2001 and 2011.

The colours represent average annual population change. The three shades of red represent growth (light pink up to 1 per cent, darker pink 1-2 per cent; dark red 2 per cent or over); the three shades of blue represent the same figures, except with a minus sign in front of them. Yellow areas are basically stable.

Here's the map:

The BBSR highlighted some of its findings in a statement accompanying the map. (It's in German, and our German is pretty rusty, too, so we're relying on internet translation tools. But you get the sense, at least.)

Especially in the countries of Eastern and Southern Europe, the population has declinded significantly... Growing and shrinking populations are sometimes right next to each other, for example in the German-Polish border regions...

Many regions in western Europe, however, show strong gains [in population] – in France, England and the Benelux countries, many areas recorded growth in population.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the clearest trends shown on the map is the shift to the cities:

Cities and suburban municipalities reported rising population figures in almost all countries. In many countries, especially in eastern Europe, they are the only growth regions. In the Baltic states and in Bulgaria, growth is concentrated in the capital regions.

(Emphasis ours.)

The notes also highlight the "spiderweb" growth of London, affecting not just the city proper but axes radiating out from it. It's a sign that London's functional economic area extends beyond the city proper and along major commuter rail routes.

Some other trends we've spotted:

  • The Scandinavians seem to be moving south – though we suspect this is a function of urbanisation, rather than a response to the weather.
  • The Mediterranean coasts are getting more populated, too. Look at north eastern Spain, northern Italy, or even Turkey.

  • Germany is facing significant depopulation – a trend that's especially pronounced in the old communist-controlled part of the country.
  • Last but not least, check out the north of Scotland. That's the Aberdeen oil boom right there.

EDIT TO ADD: On Twitter, David Freeborn has noted another trend that we missed:

@CityMetric A beautiful trend you didn't mention: suburbanisation in Poland as people move from old Communist-era inner cities to suburbs.

— DavidPWFreeborn (@DPWF0) June 16, 2015

He's not wrong.

You can see the map, with official commentary, in German, here.

 
 
 
 

The Fire Brigades Union’s statement on Theresa May’s resignation is completely damning

Grenfell Tower. Image: Getty.

Just after 10 this morning, Theresa May announced that she would resign as Britain’s prime minister on 7 June. A mere half an hour later, a statement from Royal Institute of British Architects president Ben Derbyshire arrived in my inbox with a ping:

“The news that Theresa May will step down as Prime Minister leaves the country in limbo while the clock ticks down to the latest deadline of 31 October. While much is uncertain, one thing remains clear – a no deal is no option for architecture or the wider construction sector. Whoever becomes the next Prime Minister must focus on taking the country forward with policies beyond Brexit that tackle the major challenges facing the country such as the housing crisis and climate change emergency.”

I was a bit baffled by this – why would the architecture profession try to get its thoughts into a political story? But then Merlin Fulcher of Architects Journal put me right:

Well you know construction is a larger contributor to GDP than financial services, and most of the work UK architects do is for export, and at least half of the largest practice (Foster + Partners) are EU, so there's a lot at stake

— Merlin Fulcher (@merlinfulcher) May 24, 2019

So, the thoughts of the RIBA president are an entirely legitimate thing to send to any construction sector-adjacent journalists who might be writing about today’s big news, and frankly I felt a little silly.

Someone else who should be feeling more than a little silly, though, is Theresa May herself. When listing her government’s achievements, such as they were, she included, setting up “the independent public inquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower” – a fire in a West London public housing block in June 2017 – “to search for the truth, so nothing like it can ever happen again, and so the people who lost their lives that night are never forgotten”.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, is having precisely none of this. Here’s his statement:

“Many of the underlying issues at Grenfell were due to unsafe conditions that had been allowed to fester under Tory governments and a council for which Theresa May bears ultimate responsibility. The inquiry she launched has kicked scrutiny of corporate and government interests into the long-grass, denying families and survivors justice, while allowing business as usual to continue for the wealthy. For the outgoing Prime Minister to suggest that her awful response to Grenfell is a proud part of her legacy is, frankly, disgraceful.”

A total of 72 people died in the Grenfell fire. At time of writing, nobody has been prosecuted.

Jonn Elledge is editor of CityMetric and the assistant editor of the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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