UK, Spain, Germany, and Italy: most popular EU immigration destinations

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The United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, and Italy topped the charts for non-EU immigration in 2008, according to the latest figures from Eurostat.

Each of the four Countries allowed in 100,000 immigrants in the latest year for which data is available 2008. These were the only Countries in the EU that took in more than 100,000 immigrants each.

Spain allowed in the most non-EU immigrants during this period, at 498,000 immigrants. This was followed by the UK at 307,000 immigrants, Italy at 283,700 immigrants, and Germany at 237,900 immigrants.

France, was in the past a major immigration destination Country. In 2008 only 89,000 immigrants emigrated to France.

Overall, the European Union took in 3.8 million immigrants in 2008, a six percent decrease from the previous year.

Immigration is a hot issue for some EU member states. The UK Government is attempting to curb non-EU immigration via a controversial immigration cap. There is already a temporary immigration cap in place in the UK. The permanent immigration cap will go into effect in April 2011.

The measure is unlikely to reduce immigration to the "tens of thousands" as hoped by the UK Government; Under EU law most EU citizens are allowed to work in most other EU Countries. In recent years the majority of new immigrants coming to the UK have been from other EU Countries.

EU Countries including Germany, the UK, Spain and Italy are expected to see further declines in their working age populations in future. Increasing immigration from outside the EU is needed to deal with skills shortages.