The situation of asylum in the EU 2017: Overview
Source: EUROSTAT, from 2008 to 2017.
Asylum applications in the EU+ in 2017
In 2017, EU+ countries recorded 728 470 asylum applications1. This is a decrease by 44 % 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 - before the migratory and asylum crisis gained full momentum - 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, approximately, between 59 000 and 64 000. The main exceptions to this trend were April and December, when considerable declines took place likely related to fewer working days during Easter and Christmas holidays. A seasonal trend, with higher numbers of applications over the summer, was less visible than in the previous three years. In terms of receiving countries, about three-quarters of all applications were lodged in just five EU+ countries: Germany (31 %), Italy (18 %), France (14 %), Greece (8 %) and the United Kingdom (5 %). Thus, despite a 70 % decrease compared to 2016, Germany received almost twice as many applications as any other EU+ country. In contrast, Italy (+ 5 %), France (+ 18 %) and Greece (+ 15 %) all received more applicants than in 2016.
About 56 000 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+. Some 32 715 unaccompanied minors (UAMs)3 applied for international protection in the EU+, half as many as in 2016 (65 520), accounting for 4 % of asylum applicants. Notwithstanding the decline in the number of UAMs, in several EU+ countries they were more numerous than in 2016: most notably in Italy (+ 3 925 or + 65 %), Romania (+ 220 or + 489 %), Slovenia (+ 145 or + 59 %) Spain (+ 135 or + 450 %), France (+ 115 or + 24 %) and Greece (+ 105 or + 5 %).
Syria was the most common country of origin of applicants for the fifth consecutive year, with more than 108 040 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 nationals constituted the second largest group of applicants, lodging 52 625 applications for international protection, followed by Afghans with 49 280. In 2017, almost one in three applicants (29 %) in the EU+ originated from these three countries.
The top ten of countries of origin also included Nigeria, 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 Turkish (+ 43 %), Ivoirian (+ 25 %), Venezuelan (+ 155 %) and Georgian (+ 36 %) applicants.
Focus on the 10 main countries of origin of applicants
Number and outcome of decisions issued in first instance and second instance in EU+ countries in 2017
In 2017, EU+ countries issued 996 685 decisions at first instance, 13 % fewer than in 2016 5. Despite the decrease, this was the second highest number of first instance decisions ever issued at European level since data collection began in 2008 6. In the EU+ as a whole, 46 % of all decisions in first instance were positive, i.e. granting either refugee status, subsidiary protection an authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons under national law (humanitarian protection). This recognition rate was 14 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.
Afghanistan was the country of origin with most decisions issued in 2017, after four consecutive years in which this position was held by Syria. Afghans received more than 184 265 decisions, a 68 % increase compared to 2016. The recognition rate was 47 %, nine percentage points lower than the previous year. For Syrian nationals, the number of first-instance decisions issued more than halved to 152 330; the recognition rate for Syrians was the highest of all citizenships at 94 %, yet 4 percentage points lower than in 2016.
Of all the positive decisions issued in 2017, a half granted refugee status, about one-third resulted in subsidiary protection, and the remainder (15 %) humanitarian protection. Thus, at the EU+ there has been a decrease in the number of decisions granting EU+ regulated forms of protection (refugee status or subsidiary protection) and a parallel increase in those granting a humanitarian authorization to stay under national law.
In contrast, the number of decisions issued at second or higher instance increased by 15 % to 273 960. In 2017, one-third of decisions were issued based on appeals lodged by nationals of Syria (14 %), Afghanistan (13 %) and Iraq (7 %), all receiving considerably more decisions at higher instances than in 2016.
The EU+ recognition rate of cases decided at second or higher instance was 35 %, considerably higher than in 2016 (when it was 18 %). This was mainly due to the fact that, in 2016, a third of all decisions issued in appeal were received by applicants of three Western Balkan countries (Albania, Kosovo and Serbia), with much lower recognition rates.
The difference between the EU+ recognition rate at first and second instance stood at 11 percentage points, more modest than in the past years. One explanation is that a large number of decisions were issued, at both stages, to the same three citizenships: Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi applicants, all with a first instance recognition rate higher than the EU+ average. Moreover, for several citizenships of origin, the recognition rate was unexpectedly higher in appeal than at first instance: these included Afghanistan (51, + 4 percentage points than at first instance), Pakistan (17 %, + 5 percentage points), Albania (8, + 2 percentage points) and Bangladesh (19 %, 1 percentage point higher).
Stock of pending cases at the end of 2017
While an application is under consideration with the responsible authority, it is part of the stock of pending cases 7, which represent an important measure of the workload that national asylum authorities face as well as of the pressure on the national asylum systems. At the end of 2017, some 954 100 applications were awaiting a final decision in the EU+, 16 % fewer than at the same time in 2016.
The largest number of applications awaiting a decision were those of Afghan nationals, representing 17 % of the stock in the EU+, and despite decreasing by a third compared to 2016. The other two main groups of applicants awaiting a decision were Syrian (12 %) and Iraqi (9 %) citizens. Each of them recorded a decline in the total number of pending cases of approximately 30 % compared to a year earlier. Considerable absolute declines in the stock also took place for citizens of Iran (- 32 %), Somalia (- 31 %), Albania (- 34 %), Eritrea (- 20 %) and Kosovo (- 49 %). In contrast, considerable increases in the number of applicants awaiting a decision were noticed for other countries of origin, with the largest concerning Venezuela (+ 197 %), Côte d'Ivoire (+ 55 %), Turkey and Mali (+ 40 % each). Unsurprisingly, in 2017 all these citizenships lodged more applications than a year earlier.
The visualisation above provides an overview of the key indicators regarding the situation of international protection in the EU+ in the indicated reference period. 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.
Asylum applicants: all persons having submitted an application for international protection or having been included in such application as a family member during the reference period. 'Application for international protection' means an application for international protection as defined in Art.2(h) of Directive 2011/95/EU, i.e. a request made by a third-country national or a stateless person for protection from a Member State, who can be understood to seek refugee status or subsidiary protection status, and who does not explicitly request another kind of protection, outside the scope of this Directive, that can be applied for separately.
First-instance decisions: decisions (positive and negative) considering applications for international protection as well as the grants of authorisations to stay for humanitarian reasons, including decisions under priority and accelerated procedures taken by administrative or judicial bodies in Member States.
Stock of pending cases: all applications for international protection under consideration by the responsible national authority at the end of the reference period. It includes the number of persons with pending applications at all instances of the administrative and/or judicial procedure.
The EU+ recognition rate includes EU-regulated forms of protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) as well as 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.
Source: Eurostat migr_asyappctza,migr_asypenctzm, migr_asydcfsta and migr_asydcfina as of 2 May 2018.
The figures presented in this visualisation are provisional and may be subject to update or revision from the Member States. Data available on the Eurostat website are rounded to the nearest five. As such, aggregates calculated on the basis of rounded figures may slightly deviate from the actual total. The recognition rate ("RR") is calculated as the share of decisions granting refugee status, subsidiary protection or, where applicable, an authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons. Please be advised that a ‘0’ may not necessarily indicate a real zero value but could also represent a value of ‘1’ or ‘2’. It is important to note that Eurostat Technical Guidelines have been regularly amended. For more information on these changes which affect data comparability over time please refer to the following reference metadata migr_asyapp_esms and migr_asydec_esms.
 If not stated otherwise, EU+ will be understood as EU28 plus Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland.
 Source: EASO EPS.
 For statistical purposes, the unaccompanied minor applicants are those whose age has been accepted by the national authority, and, if carried out, confirmed by an age-assessment procedure. The Eurostat Guide for practitioners highlights that ‘the age of unaccompanied minors reported shall refer to the age accepted by the national authority. In case, the responsible national authority carries out an age assessment procedure in relation to the applicant claiming to be an unaccompanied minor, the age reported shall be the age determined by the age assessment procedure’.
 The EU+ recognition rate includes EU-regulated forms of protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) as well as national protection forms (humanitarian reasons). It is calculated by dividing the number of positive first-instance decisions (granting EU+ or national protection forms) by the total number of decisions issued.
 Regulation (EC) 862/2007 on Community statistics on migration and international protection and repealing Council Regulation No 311/76 on the compilation of statistics on foreign workers specifies that the following possible outcomes of international protection procedures (defined by reference to the Qualification Directive) should be notified by Member States: granting of refugee status (under Geneva Convention); granting of subsidiary protection status; granting of an authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons under national law concerning international protection (humanitarian protection); temporary protection status (under EU legislation); rejection of the application.
 When Eurostat started to collect information on asylum decisions.
 The indicator ‘pending cases’ includes the number of persons with pending applications at all instances of the administrative and/or judicial procedure.
This page is produced by EASO's Information and Anaysis Unit (IAU) on the basis of validated data submitted to Eurostat (According to regulation (EC) No862/2007)
Date of release:15 June 2018.