Statbel, processed by Statistics Flanders
Legally resident population: Statbel reports on the ‘legally resident population’, which is based on the National Register of Natural Persons. By default, it shows the situation on the 1st of January of the calendar year and is based on the entries in the population register (Belgians and foreigners who are authorised to reside in Belgium) and the register of foreigners (foreigners who are allowed or authorised to stay in Belgium for more than 3 months for a fixed or indefinite period of time). Certain categories of foreigners (e.g. diplomatic and consular staff) are exempt from registration in the population registers. In some cases they may be registered at their own request. Only in this case they are included in the population figures.
The National Register also includes the waiting register for asylum seekers (applicants for international protection) in which asylum seekers are registered by the Immigration Department (DVZ), as well as a waiting register for EU citizens pending a residence check (after which they are registered in the foreigners register and counted in the population figures). Since 1995, persons registered in the waiting register for asylum seekers (applicants for international protection) are no longer included in the population figures of Statbel. Asylum seekers are only included in the population statistics of Statbel once they are transferred from the waiting register for asylum seekers to a regular population register after recognition as a refugee, after granting a subsidiary protection status or after obtaining a residence permit for another reason.
Usually resident population: Eurostat reports on the ‘usually resident population’, i.e. the population usually residing in the declared territory (country/region/municipality). The ‘usual residence’ in particular refers to the place where a person normally lives, regardless of temporary absences for reasons of recreation, leave, visits to friends or acquaintances, working conditions, medical care or religious pilgrimages. Only the following residents are considered usual residents: 1) persons who have been living in the place of residence for more than 12 months before the reference period (1st of January of the indicated year), and 2) persons who have arrived within the last 12 months before the reference period with the intention of staying there for more than one year (see Regulation (EC) no. 862/2007 of the European Parliament and the Council on community statistics on migration and international protection). The European regulation stresses that asylum seekers are also included, at least for as long as they can prove a long-term stay or registration in the receiving country (>12 months) or at least have the intention to do so. In practice, the EU Member States use various methods to comply – more or less - with the European provisions on the ‘usually resident population’ and ‘international migrations’. From 2011 onwards, Belgium reports to Eurostat on the ‘usually resident population’ according to the European definition. The usually resident population has slightly more members than the ‘legally resident population’ (about 30,000 extra for Belgium and 10,000 extra for the Flemish Region).
Remarks on quality
The European statistics lack the quality of a closed logical system that is typical of Belgian population statistics. The latter, however, show a blind spot for the non-legally resident population.
The intentional component in the definition of the ‘usually resident population’ in European Regulation (EC) no. 862/2007 results in the fact that sometimes only approximations can be provided for many Member States, see the Eurostat website: ‘Member States may estimate the total usually resident population referred to in paragraph 1 from the legally resident or registered population using scientifically-based, well-documented, and publicly available statistical estimation methods.’