Latest Asylum Trends - Overview 2017
This page is produced by EASO’s Information and Analysis Unit (IAU) on the basis of monthly data exchanged under the Early Warning and Preparedness System (EPS). The data shared with EASO by the EU+ countries are provisional and unvalidated, and therefore may differ from validated data submitted to Eurostat (according to Regulation (EC) No 862/2007).
Date of release: 1 February 2018
Latest asylum trends – 2017 overview
For further analysis please continue reading below the visualisation
The visualisation below provides an overview of the key indicators regarding the situation of international protection in the EU+ in the past 24 months. The size of the different circles in the countries of origin is proportional to the volume of applications lodged in EU+ countries, the colour of the circle reflects the recognition rate at first-instance (blue - high, red - low). The shade of the country reflects the stock of pending cases at the end of the selected year. By clicking on a circle, the evolution of these key indicators for the citizenship selected is displayed in the lower panel.
Reference month: Citizenship:
Source: EASO EPS, December 2015 - December 2017.
Asylum applications include all persons who have lodged or have been included in an application for international protection as a family member during the reporting month.
First-instance decisions include all persons covered by decisions issued on granting EU-regulated international protection status (refugee or subsidiary protection) following a first time or repeated application for international protection in the first instance determination process.
Stock of pending cases includes all cases for which an asylum application has been lodged and are under consideration by the national authority responsible for the first instance determination of the application for international protection (until the first instance decision has been issued) at the end of the reference period (i.e. last day of the reference month). It refers to the “stock” of applications for which decisions in first instance are still pending.
The EU+ recognition rate includes EU-regulated forms of protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and excludes national protection forms (humanitarian reasons). It is calculated by dividing the number of positive first-instance decisions (granting refugee status or subsidiary protection) by the total number of decisions issued.
Asylum applications in the EU+ in 2017
In 2017, EU+ countries recorded 706 913 asylum applications. This is a decrease by 43 % compared to 2016, and the second consecutive year with fewer applications after the unprecedented influx in 2015 and 2016. Still, the 2017 total remained at a slightly higher level than the number of applications lodged in 2014, indicating that the asylum-related inflow in the EU+ remained considerable.
In the EU+ as a whole, monthly applications remained stable throughout the year. The monthly number of applications ranged from 49 042 in December to 66 443 in March. A seasonal trend, with higher numbers of applications over the summer, was less visible than in the previous three years. The stable trend at EU+ level however conceals stark variation at the country level.
About 55 000 applications, or 8 % of the total, were repeated applications by persons who had already lodged an application previously in the same EU+ country. While the absolute number of repeated applicants rose only slightly in 2017, it is actually double the proportion compared to 2016. Hence, the proportion of repeated applications has increased massively which implies that the applicants comprise of fewer new arrivals to the EU+. At least 3.5 % of all applications concerned claimed unaccompanied minors (UAM).
Syria was the most common country of origin of applicants for the fifth consecutive year, with more than 98 000 applications. Despite a considerable decrease compared to 2016, twice as many Syrians lodged an application for international protection in the EU+ as any other citizenship. Iraqi, Afghan and Nigerian nationals each lodged more than 40 000 applications in 2017. These four countries of origin together constituted one in three applications throughout the EU+ in 2017. The top ten of countries of origin also included Pakistan, Eritrea, Albania, Bangladesh, Guinea and Iran. Importantly, of these top-ten citizenships, only Bangladeshi and Guinean citizens lodged more applications in the EU+ in 2017 than in 2016. Other noteworthy increases were recorded for Venezuelan (+ 158 %), Turkish (+ 45 %), Georgian (+ 35 %) and Ivoirian (+ 24 %) applicants.
Focus on the 10 main countries of origin of applicants
Syria – In 2017, nationals of Syria continued to lodge the most applications (98 583). Nonetheless, their applications declined the most (- 221 412 or - 69 %) compared to 2016. The highest number of applications was registered in August (10 097) and the lowest level of applications were lodged in April and December. The trend of asylum applications lodged by Syrian nationals, therefore, echoes the picture of asylum at the EU+ level, testifying to the influence that applications lodged by Syrians still exert on the overall EU+ asylum picture; in 2017, approximately one out of seven applicants in the EU+ was a Syrian national.
Iraq – In 2017, some 49 630 Iraqi nationals applied for international protection in EU+ countries, 60 % fewer compared to 2016. This citizenship lodged most applications in the months between August and November. A large share of Iraqi nationals lodged applications in Germany and Greece.
Afghanistan – There were 47 248 applicants from Afghanistan in 2017. Afghanistan was the country of origin with the most precipitous year-to-year decrease (- 73 %). In contrast to most other citizenships, Afghan nationals lodged more applications at the beginning of 2017 than in the summer months, with a record number of applications in March (5 160). Consistent with the previous year, Afghan nationals accounted for the largest proportion of UAM applicants: 15 % of all UAM applicants across the EU+ in 2017 were from Afghanistan.
Nigeria – The decrease in the number of asylum applications lodged by Nigerian nationals was much less evident than for other citizenships of origin: in 2017, Nigerians lodged 41 890 asylum applications, just some 6 800 fewer than in the previous year. The number of applications was characterised by fluctuations in the first half of 2017, showing a slight – but constant – decreasing trend as from July onwards. In contrast, over the last two years, applications by Nigerian nationals tended to peak in the summer months. This changing pattern is likely attributable to a decrease in arrivals via the Central Mediterranean route. A large proportion of Nigerian applicants lodged a claim in Italy or Germany.
Pakistan – The number of applications lodged by Pakistani nationals totalled 32 292 in 2017, a 35 % decrease compared to 2016. The highest level of applications was recorded in March (3 285). Among Pakistani applicants, sizeable shares of UAMs (6 %) and repeated applicants (7 %) were observed. A large proportion of Pakistani applicants lodged a claim in Italy, Greece or Germany.
Eritrea – In 2017, Eritrean nationals lodged 28 049 applications, some 11 000 fewer than in 2016. A slightly higher number of applications was lodged in the summer months, with a peak of 3 183 applications in September. Almost 7 % of all Eritrean applicants were UAM, and Eritreans represented the third largest citizenship in this category of vulnerable applicants.
Albania – Albanian nationals lodged 25 512 applications in 2017. The year-to-year decrease was less evident than for other citizenship groups, with only about 6 000 fewer claims lodged. Among the top 10 citizenships of applicants, Albanian nationals had the largest share of repeated applicants: 14 % of all applications lodged by Albanian applicants were repeated, which suggests they were not new arrivals.
Bangladesh – Unlike other citizenships, in 2017 more Bangladeshis lodged applications compared to 2016: 21 143 applications were lodged throughout 2017, some 3 800 more than in the previous year. Remarkably, the number of UAMs among Bangladeshi nationals more than doubled, representing 6 % of all Bangladeshi applications. A large proportion of Bangladeshi nationals lodged an application in Italy or France.
Guinea – Guinean applicants entered the top 10 of main citizenships of origin in 2017 following an increase of 28 % compared to 2016. The increase took place early in the year, with the highest number of applications lodged in March (2 237) compared to November and December with the lowest numbers (1 261 and 1 082, respectively).
Iran – In 2017, some 18 530 Iranian nationals lodged a claim for international protection in the EU+. This was only half the number of applications lodged in 2016. Over the summer of 2017 the numbers decreased, but again reached higher levels in September, October and November.
Number and type of decisions issued in first instance in EU+ countries in 2017
In 2017, EU+ countries issued 981 615 decisions at first instance, 13 % fewer than in 2016. Despite the decrease, this was the second highest number of first instance decisions ever issued at European level since data collection began in 2008. In the EU+ as a whole, 40 % of all decisions in first instance were positive, i.e. granting either refugee status or subsidiary protection. This recognition rate was 17 percentage points lower than in 2016 – a significant decrease which reflects the combined effect of a higher number of decisions issued to citizenships with relatively lower recognition rates (such as Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) and the concurrent decrease in the number of decisions issued to Syrian and Eritrean nationals, characterised by higher recognition rates.
In 2017, EU+ countries issued most first-instance decisions for Afghan applicants, more than for Syrian applicants. Afghans received more than 179 000 decisions, a 68 % increase compared to 2016. The recognition rate was 32 %, four percentage points lower than the previous year. For Syrian nationals, the number of first-instance decisions issued more than halved; the recognition rate for Syrians was the highest of all citizenships at 94 %.
Of all the positive decisions issued in 2017, the majority granted refugee status (59 %) and a lower share resulted in subsidiary protection (41 %). This distribution of the two EU-regulated types of protection was similar in 2016.
Stock of pending cases at the end of 2017
At the end of 2017, there were 462 532 applications awaiting a decision in first instance. This is half the number of cases that were pending a year ago at the end of 2016, resulting from more first-instance decisions being issued in 2017, than asylum applications lodged. The decrease in pending cases was reflected in most EU+ countries, with some notable cases of increased pending cases.
Afghans remained the citizenship with most pending cases (46 651), despite being subject to the largest decrease in the stock compared to one year ago (- 76 %). Nigerian applicants were the second-largest group awaiting a first-instance decision (41 014), just 6 000 fewer than at the end of 2016. Pending cases for Syrians stood at 40 357 pending cases, or 60 % fewer than a year ago.
Despite the overall decrease, the stock of pending cases increased for some citizenships who also recorded increases in the number of applications. This was the case for Venezuelans for whom the stock of pending cases almost tripled. There were also more pending cases than last year for Bangladeshi and Ivoirian cases.
At the end of 2017, some 61 % of the pending cases had been pending for six months or more. At the end of 2016, this was 56 %. Several factors contribute to the duration of the process leading up to a first-instance decision.
 The EU+ is composed of 28 EU Member States plus Norway and Switzerland. Data on applications for international protection were available for all 30 EU+ countries. Some monthly data were missing and these are estimated to represent approximately 1 000 applications.
 Claimed UAM represent the asylum applicants claiming to be below the age of 18 years rather than those assessed to be such after an age assessment has been carried out. Several EU+ countries have difficulties reporting on claimed UAM in the framework of the EPS data exchange. These figures should therefore be considered as underestimations of the actual proportion of claimed UAM.
 First-instance decisions include all persons covered by decisions issued on granting EU-regulated international protection status (refugee or subsidiary protection) following a first time or repeated application for international protection in the first instance determination process. Data on first-instance decisions were available for all 30 EU+ countries. Some monthly data were missing.
 When Eurostat started to collect information on asylum decisions.
 The EU+ recognition rate includes EU-regulated forms of protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and excludes national protection forms (humanitarian reasons). It is calculated by dividing the number of positive first-instance decisions (granting refugee status or subsidiary protection) by the total number of decisions issued.
 Data on pending cases were available for 29 EU+ countries. Some monthly data were missing.