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LUXEMBOURG, July 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The native-born population of the European Union (EU) is on the decline thanks to more deaths than births in 2017, new government figures reveal.

On Tuesday, the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat released a report on the latest population data, just in time for World Population Day on Wednesday. It reveals that the EU saw 5.3 million deaths and 5.1 million births in 2017. The overall population increased from 511.5 million to 512.6 million, however, thanks to immigrants making up the difference.

“With 82.9 million residents (or 16.2% of the total EU population on 1 January 2018), Germany is the most populated EU Member State, ahead of France (67.2 million, or 13.1%), the United Kingdom (66.2 million, or 12.9%), Italy (60.5 million, or 11.8%), Spain (46.7 million, or 9.1%) and Poland (38.0 million, or 7.4%),” the report says. “For the remaining Member States, nine have a share of between 1.5% and 4% of the EU population and thirteen a share below 1.5%.”

Ireland retained the highest birth rate and lowest death rate in the EU, making its natural population growth five times higher than the EU’s average. Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) projects that the population will continue to grow until reaching nearly 6.7 million in 2051, though it remains to be seen how the country’s legalization of abortion will impact such predictions.

Births also continued to outnumber deaths in Cyprus, Luxembourg, France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The economic impact of declining birth rates in the western world is a topic of ongoing concern. Progressives welcome mass immigration as a solution to native births dropping below replacement levels, while conservatives warn that trading birth for migration presents deeper cultural challenges.

“Europe has been importing a considerable mass of people on the unspoken assumption that more diversity in a society will invariably breed ever more tolerance,” Brian Stewart writes at The Federalist. “Worse, this massive influx has been accompanied by an austere and often fervent Islamic piety; and this has been doubly dangerous.”

“Loose talk of a ‘clash of civilizations’ between Europe and its Muslim communities is egregious, but it is hard to ignore the rampant illiberalism exhibited by large numbers of certain immigrant groups,” he continues. “After the 7/7 bombings in London, polls revealed that 68 percent of British Muslims believe that British citizens who ‘insult Islam’ should be arrested and prosecuted.”

The solution, Stewart says, is for Europeans to “insist that, despite the sins of their past, they have rights as well as duties in the present. They could abandon their disinclination to power that has become little more than a disinclination to history. They might even consider crediting certain forms of Christianity for their contributions to civilization.”