Friday, February 12, 1999 Published at 20:14 GMT
EU birth rates drop
More people are born than die in Europe
The birthrate across Europe is at its lowest since the second world war and has dropped by one third since the 1960s.
However, more people are still being born than die each year.
According to a new EU survey, fertility in Europe dropped "dramatically" between 1965 and 1975, and has been on a downward path ever since.
The number of babies born in the 15 member states last year is put at almost 4.01 million, compared with 4.05 million in 1997.
When the death rate is included, the EU's population growth is put at 320,000, compared with 336,000 in 1997.
The post-war low for births over deaths was 278,000 in 1995.
Of the total population growth of 320,000, France contributed 200,000 and Britain 101,000, while in Germany and Italy the death rate exceeded the birthrate, to reduce the population by 71,000 and 39,000 respectively.
Proportionately Ireland's excess of births over deaths last year - 20,500 - remained the highest in the EU, at 5.5 per 1,000 citizens, compared with Britain's 1.7 and an EU average of 0.9.
The Eurostat survey says: "In the near future the number of births will probably continue to decrease as the large numbers of women born in the mid-Sixties' baby-boom move out of the peak childbearing ages and are replaced by the smaller numbers of women born during 1965 to 1975."