Latest figures from the EU’s central statistics body, Eurostat, shows we had the highest birth rate of all 28 member countries in 2014.
According to Eurostat, we had 14.4 births last year for every 1,000 residents — much higher than the 10.1 European average and almost double the sluggish Portugese who were bottom of the table with just 7.9 per 1,000.
We also had the EU’s second lowest death rate, losing just 6.4 people for every 1,000 residents — only marginally more than top-placed Cyprus with a rate of 6.2.
That compares to the EU average of 9.7 and a EU high of 15.1 which was recorded in Bulgaria. Others with high death rates were Latvia (14.3), Lithuania (13), Hungary (12), and Romania (12).
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As a result, Ireland also had the highest natural increase in population in 2014 at 8 per 1,000, way ahead of our nearest rival Cyprus on 4.7, the EU average which is just 0.3% and the poorest performer, Bulgaria which had a decrease of 5.7.
But natural population changes only count for so much. When net migration was taken into account, Luxembourg was the country that swelled its resident numbers most to record an increase of 23.9 per 1,000.
In all, 16 countries saw their overall populations increase, Ireland falling to 10th on that list with a rate of 4.4 per 1,000. All the countries that had overall falls in population are in eastern and southern Europe.
Across all of the EU, there were 5.1m babies born last year and the total population increased by 1.3m. But only 200,000 of those extra people were accounted for by the natural surplus of births over deaths, meaning migrants made up more than a million of the increase.
For all our efforts, we still make up a tiny 0.9% of the total EU population. Giants Germany and France make up 16.9% and 12.3%, while Malta and Luxembourg account for just 0.1% each.