Ireland's birth rate was the highest in the EU last year while the rate of deaths recorded here was the lowest, according to a newly-published Eurostat report.
According to the data the population of the EU was almost 513.5 million at the beginning of the year, compared with 512.4 million 12 months earlier.
During 2018, more deaths than births were recorded, meaning the actual change in the EU population was negative for a second year in a row. The population growth recorded was attributed to net migration, the report says.
The highest birth rates in 2018 were recorded in Ireland, where the rate was 12.5 births per 1 000 residents, while the lowest was registered in Italy, which had 7.3 per 1,000 residents.
Ireland recorded 6.4 deaths per 1, 000 residents, just ahead of Cyprus and Luxembourg. At the opposite end of the scale were Bulgaria and Latvia, with 15.4 and 15 deaths per 1,000 residents respectively.
For the EU as a whole, the death rate was 10.4 per 1,000 residents.
Germany was the most populated country in the EU, with 83 million residents or 16.2 per cent of the total, ahead of France on 67 million and the UK on 66.6 million.
During 2018, the population increased in 18 EU member states and decreased in 10. The largest population increase was observed in Malta, which saw a jump in population of just under 4 per cent. The increase in Ireland's population was put at 1.5 per cent.