The Italians are no longer the largest group of immigrants to Belgium. The Moroccan immigrants have managed to outnumber them for the first time, according to sociologist Jan Hertogen. He says it is a “historic moment.” Hertogen based his analysis on figures from the General Department of Statistics and Economic Information of the federal ministry for the economy.
Belgium counted 264,974 Moroccan and 262,120 Italian immigrants as of 1 January 2006. This includes both foreigners and naturalised Belgians. For the first time Italians are not the largest group of migrants in the country, but the second largest.
After the Moroccans and Italians, the Turks are the next largest group, with 159,336 immigrants. The French (145,556) and Dutch (126,447) are once again the largest groups of European migrants. Hertogen says there are a total of 1,569,909 migrants.
The statistics department was more cautious about Hertogen’s numbers. “The figures Hertogen is using are more or less accurate, but they are not the comprehensive official figures. He counted the naturalisations but did not take into account deaths or people who had re-emigrated,” they say.