Asylum quarterly report
Data extracted on 12 March 2019.
Planned article update: June 2019.
This article describes recent developments in relation to numbers of asylum applicants and first instance decisions on asylum applications in the European Union (EU). Asylum is a form of international protection given by a state on its territory. It is granted to a person who is unable to seek protection in his/her country of citizenship and/or residence, in particular for fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.
Main trends in the numbers of asylum applicants
The number of first-time asylum applicants in the EU-28 decreased by 2 % in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared with the same quarter of 2017 and increased by 3 % compared with the third quarter of 2018. As such, the number of persons seeking asylum from non-EU countries in the EU-28 during the fourth quarter of 2018 was 151 000, a number around the levels recorded in 2014, before the peaks of 2015 and 2016 (Figure 1, Table 2).
The number of first-time asylum applicants in the EU-28 accounted for 91 % of the total number of asylum applicants (165 000), including repeat applicants, recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018 (Figure 1, Table 2).
Where do asylum applicants come from?
Citizens of 147 countries sought asylum for the first time in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2018. Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi were the top 3 citizenships of asylum seekers, lodging 17 500, 12 200 and 9 700 applications respectively (Table 1).
Syrians (6 000 fewer applicants compared with the fourth quarter of 2017) contributed most to the overall decrease in first-time asylum applicants in absolute terms, followed by Iraqis (3 200 fewer) and Nigerians (3 100 fewer). By contrast, the number of asylum applicants increased most in absolute terms for citizens of Iran (3 600 more), Afghanistan (2 400 more) and Venezuela (2 200 more) (Table 1).
The most substantial relative decrease in the number of asylum applicants in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared with the same quarter of 2017 was recorded for Nigerians (41 % less), Senegalese (39 % less) and Eritreans (32 % less). By contrast, Colombia (about two times more) , Palestine (121 % more), Iran (84 % more) and Venezuela (61 % more) were the countries of citizenships which mostly increased in relative terms in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared with the same quarter of 2017 (Figure 2, Table 1).
Where do asylum applicants go to?
The highest number of first-time asylum applicants in the fourth quarter of 2018 was registered in Germany (with 36 300 first-time applicants, or 24 % of all applicants in the EU Member States), followed by France (32 000, or 21 %), Greece (19 000, or 13 %), Spain (15 100, or 10 %), the United Kingdom (10 800, or 7 %) and Italy (8 800, or 6 %). These six Member States together account for 81 % of all first-time applicants in the EU-28 (Table 2).
Trends in the number of asylum applicants varied from country to country in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared with the same quarter of 2017 (Table 2). Italy (with 14 200 fewer applicants) was the country with the largest absolute decrease in the number of first-time applicants, followed by Germany (9 600 fewer applicants). By contrast, in Spain the number of asylum seekers increased by 7 100 and in France by 6 200 in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared with the same quarter of 2017.
In relative terms, Hungary (85 % less), Italy (62 % less), Austria and Croatia (about 50 % less each) recorded the largest relative decreases of first-time asylum seekers. Among the countries with more than 10 000 applicants in the fourth quarter of 2018, only Germany recorded a relative decrease (21 % less) in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared with the same quarter of 2017. Cyprus (110 % more) and Spain (90 % more) have recorded the largest relative increase of first-time asylum seekers in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared with the same quarter of 2017 (Figure 3).
Both Syrian and Afghan were the main citizenships of asylum seekers in five EU Member States (Table 3 ). Of the 17 500 Syrians who applied for the first time for asylum in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2018, 55 % were registered in Germany (9 500) and 12 % in Greece (2 200). 42 % of Afghans (5 100) applied for asylum in Greece and 37 % of Iraqis (3 600) in Germany (Table 4).
Compared with the population of each Member State, the highest rate of registered first-time applicants during the fourth quarter of 2018 was recorded in Cyprus (3 131 first-time applicants per million population) and Greece (1 772), followed by Malta (1 408) and Luxembourg (1 159). By contrast, the lowest rates were observed in Slovakia (6 applicants per million population), Hungary (10) and Estonia (14). In the fourth quarter 2018, there were in total 294 first-time asylum applicants per million population in the EU as a whole (Table 2).
Decisions on asylum applications
During the fourth quarter of 2018, 140 600 first instance decisions were made by the national authorities of EU Member States. Among them, 38 % were positive (i.e. granting a type of protection status) (Table 5).
Germany issued by far the most total first instance decisions during the fourth quarter of 2018 (42 300 decisions), followed by France (29 900), Italy (23 200), Greece (8 800), Sweden (7 700) and the United Kingdom (6 600) (Figure 4). For more detailed information about the distribution of decision outcomes please refer to Table 6.
Most first instance decisions in the EU-28 were issued to Syrians (19 800), followed by Afghans (11 600) and Iraqis (10 100) (Table 7, Figure 5).
Syrians received the highest number of decisions granting protection status in the EU Member States, including protection based on national legislations (17 975 positive first instance decisions, or 91 % rate of recognition), followed by Afghans (6 105, or 53 %). By contrast, of the 1 115 first instance decisions issued to citizens of North Macedonia only 20 were positive (or 2 % rate of recognition), and of the 3 680 issued to Georgians only 170 were positive (or 5 % rate of recognition). (Table 7).
For more detailed information on decision outcomes please refer to Table 8.
The data used for this publication are provided to Eurostat by the interior and justice ministries or immigration agencies of the Member States and EFTA countries. Data on asylum applications are collected monthly while data on first instance decisions are collected quarterly. Data are based entirely on relevant administrative sources.
Apart from statistics on first asylum applicants, these data are supplied in accordance with the provisions of Article 4 of the Regulation (EC) No 862/2007 of 11 July 2007 on Community statistics on migration and international protection. All data presented in this publication are rounded to the nearest 5, and are provisional (except as otherwise stated) and may be subject to change.
The Directorate-General Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME) is responsible for developing EU policies on asylum.
The 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees (as amended by the 1967 New York Protocol) has, for over 60 years, defined who is a refugee, and laid down a common approach towards refugees that has been one of the cornerstones for the development of a common asylum system within the EU.
Since 1999, the EU has worked towards creating a common European asylum regime in accordance with the Geneva Convention and other applicable international instruments. A number of directives in this area have been developed. The four main legal instruments on asylum — all recently recast — are:
- the Qualification Directive 2011/95/EU on standards for the qualification of non-EU nationals and stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection;
- the Asylum Procedures Directive 2013/32/EU on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection;
- the Reception Conditions Directive 2013/33/EU laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection;
- the Dublin Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or stateless person.
The Hague programme was adopted by heads of state and government on 5 November 2004. It puts forward the idea of a common European asylum system (CEAS), in particular, it raises the challenge to establish common procedures and uniform status for those granted asylum or subsidiary protection. The European Commission’s policy plan on asylum (COM(2008) 360 final) was presented in June 2008 which included three pillars to underpin the development of the CEAS:
- bringing more harmonisation to standards of protection by further aligning the EU Member States’ asylum legislation;
- effective and well-supported practical cooperation;
- increased solidarity and sense of responsibility among EU Member States, and between the EU and non-member countries.
With this in mind, in 2009 the European Commission made a proposal to establish a European Asylum Support Office (EASO). The EASO supports EU Member States in their efforts to implement a more consistent and fair asylum policy. It also provides technical and operational support to EU Member States facing particular pressures (in other words, those EU Member States receiving large numbers of asylum applicants). The EASO became fully operational in June 2011 and has worked to increase its capacity, activity and influence, working with the European Commission and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
In May 2010, the European Commission presented an action plan for unaccompanied minors (COM(2010) 213 final), who are regarded as the most exposed and vulnerable victims of migration. This plan aims to set-up a coordinated approach and commits all EU Member States to grant high standards of reception, protection and integration for unaccompanied minors. As a complement to this action plan, the European Migration Network has produced a comprehensive EU study on reception policies, as well as return and integration arrangements for unaccompanied minors.
In December 2011, the European Commission adopted a Communication on ‘Enhanced intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum’ (COM(2011) 835 final). This provided proposals to reinforce practical, technical and financial cooperation, moving towards a better allocation of responsibilities and improved governance of the asylum system in the EU, namely through:
- introducing an evaluation and early warning mechanism to detect and address emerging problems;
- making the supporting role of the EASO more effective;
- increasing the amount of funds available and making these more flexible, taking into account significant fluctuations in the number of asylum seekers;
- developing and encouraging the relocation of beneficiaries of international protection between different EU Member States.
- Asylum and new asylum applicants - monthly data (tps00189)
- Persons subject of asylum applications pending at the end of the month - monthly data (tps00190)
- Asylum and new asylum applicants - annual aggregated data (tps00191)
- First instance decisions on applications by type of decision - annual aggregated data (tps00192)
- Final decisions on applications - annual data (tps00193)
- Asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors - annual data (tps00194)
- Resettled persons - annual data (tps00195)
- Applications (migr_asyapp)
- Asylum applicants by citizenship till 2007 Annual data (rounded) (migr_asyctz)
- First time asylum applicants by citizenship till December 2007 Monthly data (rounded) (migr_asyctzm)
- Asylum and first time asylum applicants by citizenship, age and sex Annual aggregated data (rounded) (migr_asyappctza)
- Asylum and first time asylum applicants by citizenship, age and sex Monthly data (rounded) (migr_asyappctzm)
- Persons subject of asylum applications pending at the end of the month by citizenship, age and sex - Monthly data (rounded) (migr_asypenctzm)
- Asylum applications withdrawn by citizenship, age and sex Annual aggregated data (rounded) (migr_asywitha)
- Asylum applications withdrawn by citizenship, age and sex - Monthly data (rounded) (migr_asywithm)
- Asylum applicants considered to be unaccompanied minors by citizenship, age and sex Annual data (rounded) (migr_asyunaa)
- Decisions on applications and resettlement (migr_asydec)
- Decisions on asylum applications by citizenship till 2007 Annual data (rounded) (migr_asydctzy)
- Decisions on asylum applications by citizenship till December 2007 Monthly data (rounded) (migr_asydctzm)
- First instance decisions on applications by citizenship, age and sex Annual aggregated data (rounded) (migr_asydcfsta)
- First instance decisions on applications by citizenship, age and sex Quarterly data (rounded) (migr_asydcftq)
- Decisions withdrawing status granted at first instance decision by type of status withdrawn and by citizenship Annual aggregated data (rounded) (migr_asywitfsta)
- Decisions withdrawing status granted at first instance decision by type of status withdrawn and by citizenship Quarterly data (rounded) (migr_asywitfstq)
- Final decisions on applications by citizenship, age and sex Annual data (rounded) (migr_asydcfina)
- Decisions withdrawing status granted as final decision by type of status withdrawn Annual data (rounded) (asywitfina)
- Resettled persons by age, sex and citizenship Annual data (rounded) (migr_asyresa)
- Applications (migr_asyapp)
- Applications (migr_asyapp) (ESMS metadata file — migr_asyapp_esms)
- Decisions on applications and resettlement (migr_asydec) (ESMS metadata file — migr_asydec_esms)
- First-time applicant for international protection is a person who lodged an application for asylum for the first time in a given Member State. The indicator 'First-time asylum applicants' excludes repeat applicants i.e. persons applying for asylum more than once in one country and therefore more accurately presents the number of persons applying for international protection in the EU Member States. The use of this indicator is possible as all Member States are able to provide it to Eurostat since 2014.
- Data on first instance decisions relate to decisions on applications granted to all asylum applicants i.e. First-time asylum applicants and Repeat asylum applicants.
- Total decisions equal to positive decisions plus negative decisions.
- Rate of recognition is the share of (first instance) positive decisions in the total number of decisions at first instance. In this report, the exact number of decisions has been used for calculations instead of the presented rounded numbers. Rates of recognition for humanitarian status are not shown, but are part of the 'Total recognition rate'.