Asylum quarterly report


Data extracted on 15 June 2020.

Planned article update: September 2020.

Highlights
First-time asylum applicants up 2 % in Q1 2020 compared with Q1 2019 and down 12 % compared with Q4 2019 .
In the 1st quarter of 2020, 42 % of first instance decisions on asylum applications taken by EU 27 Member States were positive.

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.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the related introduction of movement restrictions and border closures, some countries have applied certain administrative measures (e.g. temporary closure of asylum authorities, suspended asylum interviews, suspension of lodging applications), which resulted in a drop in the number of asylum applications as well as in the number of decisions issued starting from March 2020.

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Main trends in the number of asylum applicants

The number of first-time asylum applicants[1] in the EU-27 increased by 2 % in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019 and decreased by 12 % compared with the fourth quarter of 2019. As such, the number of persons seeking asylum from non-EU countries in the EU-27 during the first quarter of 2020 amounted to 150 200 (Figure 1, Table 2).

The number of first-time asylum applicants in the EU-27 accounted for 91 % of the total number of asylum applicants[2] (164 700), recorded in the first quarter of 2020 (Figure 1, Table 2).

Figure 1: Asylum applicants, EU-27, between Q1 2014 and Q1 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm)

Where do asylum applicants come from?

Citizens of 147 countries, as well as stateless persons, sought asylum for the first time in the EU in the first quarter of 2020. Syrian, Afghan and Venezuelan were the top 3 citizenships of asylum seekers, lodging 19 300, 14 900 and 13 000 applications respectively (Table 1).

Table 1: First-time asylum applicants in the EU-27, 30 main citizenships, Q1 2019 – Q1 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm)

Compared with the first quarter of 2019, Colombians (7 200 more applicants ) contributed most to the overall increase in first-time asylum applicants in absolute terms, followed by Afghans (4 700 more), Syrians (2 500 more), Venezuelans (2 200 more) and Peruvians (1 800 more). By contrast, the number of asylum applicants decreased most in absolute terms for citizens of Georgia (2 900 fewer), Nigeria (2 300 fewer), Albania (2 200 fewer), Iran (1 800 fewer) and Iraq (1 700 fewer). (Table 1).

The countries of citizenships which increased most in relative terms in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019 were Peru (173 % more), Colombia (126 % more), Honduras (56 % more), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (47 % more) and Afghanistan (46 % more). By contrast, the most substantial relative decrease in the number of asylum applicants in the EU in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019 was recorded for Palestinians, Albanians (49 % fewer both), Georgians (47 % fewer), Ukrainians (44 % fewer), Iranians and Nigerians (40 % fewer each) (Figure 2, Table 1).

Figure 2: First-time asylum applicants by citizenship, EU-27, relative change between Q1 2019 and Q1 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm), see country codes

Where do asylum applicants go to?

The highest number of first-time asylum applicants in the first quarter of 2020 was registered in Spain (with 36 600 first-time applicants, or 24 % of all first-time applicants in the EU Member States), followed by Germany (32 300, or 22 %), France (28 100, or 19 %) and Greece (20 000, or 13 %). These four Member States together account for almost eighty percent of all first-time applicants in the EU-27 (Table 2).

Table 2: Asylum applicants, Q1 2019 – Q1 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm)

Trends in the number of asylum applicants varied from country to country in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019 (Table 2). Germany (with 8 200 fewer applicants) was the country with the largest absolute decrease in the number of first-time applicants, followed by Italy (1 600 fewer applicants). By contrast, in Spain the number of asylum seekers increased by 10 800 and in Greece by 4 100 in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019.

In relative terms, Czechia (59 % fewer), Hungary (58 % fewer) and Lithuania (56 % fewer) recorded the largest relative decreases in first-time asylum seekers. By contrast, Croatia (417 % more), Romania (248 % more) and Latvia (87 % more) recorded the largest relative increases in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019 (Figure 3). Among the countries with more than 5 000 applicants in the first quarter of 2020, Germany and Italy recorded relative decreases of 20 % and 19 % respectively, while the number of first-time asylum applicants rose by 42 % in Spain and 26 % in Greece in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019.

Figure 3: First-time asylum applicants, relative change between Q1 2019 and Q1 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm), see country codes

Syrian was the main citizenship of asylum seekers in ten EU Member States, Afghan in four, while Venezuelan, although among the top 3, was the main citizenship in only one EU Member State, namely Spain (Table 3). Of the 19 300 Syrians who applied for the first time for asylum in the EU in the first quarter of 2020, 52 % were registered in Germany (10 100) while 92 % of 13 000 Venezuelans applied for asylum in Spain (11 900). Of the 14 900 Afghans, 55 % (8 100) applied for the first time for asylum in Greece. (Table 4).

Table 3: Five main citizenships of first-time asylum applicants, 1st quarter 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm)


Table 4: Thirty main citizenships of first-time asylum applicants by destination country in the EU 27, 1st quarter 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm)

Compared with the population of each Member State, the highest rate of registered first-time applicants during the first quarter of 2020 was recorded in Cyprus (3 373 first-time applicants per million population), followed by Greece (1 869) and Malta (1 485). By contrast, the lowest rates were observed in Hungary (5 applicants per million population) and Slovakia (7 applicants per million population). In total in the EU as a whole, there were 336 first-time asylum applicants per million population in the first quarter of 2020 (Table 2).

Decisions on asylum applications

During the first quarter of 2020, 142 600 first instance decisions[3] were made by the national authorities of EU Member States. Among them, 42 % were positive (i.e. granting a type of protection status) (Table 5).

Table 5: First instance decisions by outcome and recognition rates, 1st quarter 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asydcfstq)


Germany issued the most total first instance decisions[4] during the first quarter of 2020 (35 500 decisions), followed by Spain (33 700), France (23 200), Italy (16 800), Greece (11 200) and Sweden (5 300) (Figure 4). These six Member States accounted together for 88 % of all first instance decisions issued in the EU-27. For more detailed information about the distribution of decision outcomes please refer to Table 6.

Figure 4: First instance decisions by outcome, selected Member States, 1st quarter 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asydcfstq)


Table 6: First instance decisions by citizenship and outcome, selected Member States, 1st quarter 2020- Source: Eurostat (migr_asydcfstq)


Most first instance decisions in the EU-27 were issued to Venezuelans (20 700), followed by Syrians (17 800), Colombians (8 100) and Afghans (8 000) (Table 7, Figure 5).

Venezuelans received the highest number of decisions granting protection status in the EU Member States, including protection based on national legislations (20 000 positive first instance decisions, or 97 % rate of recognition[5]) (Table 7).

For more detailed information on decision outcomes please refer to Table 8.

Table 7: First instance decisions by outcome and recognition rates, 30 main citizenships of asylum applicants granted decisions in the EU-27, 1st quarter 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asydcfstq)


Figure 5: First instance decisions in the EU-27 by outcome, selected citizenships, 1st quarter 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asydcfstq)


Table 8: First instance decisions by destination country and outcome in the EU-27, selected citizenships of asylum applicants, 1st quarter 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asydcfstq)

Data sources

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.

Context

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.
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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)


Notes

  1. 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 repeated 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.
  2. Total applicants includes first-time and repeated applicants
  3. Data on first instance decisions relate to decisions on applications granted to all asylum applicants i.e. first-time asylum applicants and repeated asylum applicants.
  4. Total decisions equal to positive decisions plus negative decisions.
  5. 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'.