Asylum quarterly report


Data extracted on 15 March 2021.

Planned article update: 18 June 2021.

Highlights
First-time asylum applicants in the EU down by 38 % in Q4 2020 compared with Q4 2019 and by 5 % compared with Q3 2020.
In the 4th quarter of 2020, 37 % of first instance decisions on asylum applications taken by EU Member States were positive.
[[File:Asylum applicants EU Q1 2014 to Q4 2020 interactive v5.xlsx]]

Asylum applicants (non-EU), EU, Q1 2014 to Q4 2020


This article describes recent developments in relation to the number 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, and the related introduction of movement restrictions and border closures, some countries have applied certain administrative measures (e.g. temporary closure of asylum authorities, suspension of 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. For more information on developments in this regard please consult the recent reports “COVID-19 emergency measures in asylum and reception systems” (Issue No.1,Issue No.2,Issue No.3) published by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

Full article

Main trends in the number of asylum applicants

The number of first-time asylum applicants[1] in the EU decreased by 38 % in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019 and by 5 % compared with the third quarter of 2020. As such, the number of persons seeking asylum from non-EU countries in the EU during the fourth quarter of 2020 amounted to 106 400 (Figure 1, Table 2).

The number of first-time asylum applicants in the EU accounted for 86 % of the total number of asylum applicants[2] (124 400), recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020 (Figure 1, Table 2).

Figure 1: Asylum applicants, EU, Q1 2014 – Q4 2020
(thousands)
Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm)

Where do asylum applicants come from?

Citizens of 132 countries, as well as stateless persons, sought asylum for the first time in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2020. Syrian, Afghan and Pakistani were the top 3 citizenships of asylum seekers, lodging 17 500, 14 000 and 5 300 applications respectively (Table 1).

Table 1: First-time asylum applicants in the EU by citizenships, Q4 2019 – Q4 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm)

Increases in the number of asylum applicants among the 30 main citizenship compared with the fourth quarter of 2019 were only recorded for Ukrainians (60 more). The number of asylum applicants decreased most in absolute terms for citizens of Venezuela (9 100 fewer), Colombia (6 700 fewer) and Afghanistan (5 500 fewer) (Table 1).

The most substantial relative decrease in the number of asylum applicants in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019 was recorded for Albanians (69 % fewer), followed by Venezuelans (66 % fewer), Iranians (65 % fewer), Russians (63 % fewer), Georgians (61 % fewer), Congoleses (60 % fewer) and Colombians (58 % fewer) (Figure 2, Table 1).

Figure 2: First-time asylum applicants by citizenship, EU, relative change between Q4 2019 and Q4 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm), see country codes

Where do asylum applicants go to?

The highest number of first-time asylum applicants in the fourth quarter of 2020 was registered in Germany (with 27 400 first-time applicants, or 26 % of all first-time applicants in the EU Member States), followed by France (23 300, or 22 %), Spain (15 700, or 15 %) and Italy (8 100, or 8 %). These four Member States together account for 70 % of all first-time applicants in the EU (Table 2).

Table 2: Asylum applicants, Q4 2019 – Q4 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm)

The number of asylum applicants decreased in the majority of the countries in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019 (Table 2). Greece (with 23 500 fewer applicants) was the country with the largest absolute decrease in the number of first-time applicants, followed by Spain (with 19 700 fewer applicants) and France (with 10 400 fewer applicants). By contrast, the number of asylum seekers increased most in Romania (2 100 more), Austria and Bulgaria (by 1 500 more asylum seekers each) in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019.

In relative terms, Greece (84 % fewer), Hungary (83 % fewer), Ireland (66 % fewer), Spain (56 % fewer), Sweden (55 % fewer) and Portugal (54 % fewer) recorded the largest relative decreases in first-time asylum seekers. By contrast, Bulgaria (382 % more) and Romania (179 % more) recorded the largest relative increases in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019 (Figure 3). Among the countries with more than 5 000 applicants, apart from Spain listed above, also France, Italy and Germany recorded relative decreases of 31 %, 17 % and 13 % respectively in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019.

Figure 3: First-time asylum applicants, relative change between Q4 2019 and Q4 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm), see country codes

Among the top three citizenships, Syrian was the main citizenship of asylum seekers in seven EU Member States, Afghan in six, and Pakistani in two (Table 3). Of the 17 500 Syrians who applied for the first time for asylum in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2020, 58 % were registered in Germany (10 200). Around one quarter of 14 000 Afgan applications were lodged in Germany and France each (3 500 and 3 300 respectively). Of the 5 300 Pakistani, 40 % (2 100) applied for the first time for asylum in Italy. (Table 4).

Table 3: Five main citizenships of first-time asylum applicants, Q4 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm)


Table 4: Thirty main citizenships of first-time asylum applicants by destination country in the EU, Q4 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asyappctzm)

Compared with the population of each Member State, the highest rate of registered first-time applicants during the fourth quarter of 2020 was recorded in Cyprus (2 285 first-time applicants per million population), followed by Malta (1 578) and Luxembourg (644). By contrast, the lowest rates were observed in Hungary (1 applicants per million population), Estonia (10 applicants per million population), Poland and Slovakia (14 applicants per million population each). In total in the EU as a whole, there were 238 first-time asylum applicants per million population in the fourth quarter of 2020 (Table 2).

Decisions on asylum applications

During the fourth quarter of 2020, 128 900 first instance decisions[3] were made by the national authorities of EU Member States. Among them, 37 % were positive (i.e. granting a type of protection status) (Table 5).

Table 5: First instance decisions by outcome and recognition rates, Q4 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asydcfstq)


France issued the most total first instance decisions[4] during the fourth quarter of 2020 (29 400 decisions), followed by Germany (28 800), Spain (22 900), Greece (12 100), Italy (11 300) and Sweden (5 500) (Figure 4). These six Member States accounted together for 85 % of all first instance decisions issued in the EU. 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, Q4 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (migr_asydcfstq)


Table 6: First instance decisions by citizenship and outcome, selected Member States, Q4 2020- Source: Eurostat (migr_asydcfstq)


Most first instance decisions in the EU were issued to Syrians (16 900), followed by Afghans (13 300), Colombians (9 200), Pakistani (5 300), Iraqis (4 900) and Nigerians (4 700) (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 (14 700 positive first instance decisions, or 87 % 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, Q4 2020 - Source: Eurostat (migr_asydcfstq)


Figure 5: First instance decisions in the EU by outcome, selected citizenships, Q4 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (migr_asydcfstq)


Table 8: First instance decisions by destination country and outcome in the EU, selected citizenships of asylum applicants, Q4 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.


In September 2020, the European Commission presented the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. This pact provides a comprehensive approach, bringing together policy in the areas of migration, asylum, integration and border management, recognising that the overall effectiveness depends on progress on all fronts. It creates faster, seamless migration processes and stronger governance of migration and borders policies, supported by modern IT systems and more effective agencies. It aims to reduce unsafe and irregular routes and promote sustainable and safe legal pathways for those in need of protection. It reflects the reality that most migrants come to the EU through legal channels, which should be better matched to EU labour market needs.

Direct access to
Other articles
Tables
Database
Dedicated section
Publications
Methodology
Legislation
Visualisations
External links





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)


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. The indicator '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'.