Migrants being rescued in the Mediterranean by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, June 2020/Photo: Frontex

Asylum applications in the EU rise for first time since 2015, new report reveals

Asylum applications in Europe increased by 11% in 2019 compared with the previous year. The European asylum support office expects the overall rise to continue, despite the current pandemic-related slump. Asylum applications in the EU account for one-third of the global total. Charlotte Hauswedell/InfoMigrant reports

In 2019, asylum applications in EU+ countries rose by 11% compared with the year before – it’s the first recorded annual increase since 2015. Germany saw the largest number of new asylum seekers — 22% of the total of 738,425 applications were filed there.

Data is recorded for the 27 EU member states, the United Kingdom (an EU member state in 2019), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) this week published its annual report on key developments in asylum data. While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an 87% drop in applications from March onward, EASO expects the overall increase in asylum applications to resume.

The increase of first-instance applications in 2019 is partly due to a sharp rise in applications from Latin America – applications from Venezuela and Colombia increased by 103% and by 214% over 2018 respectively.

EASO also highlights that some EU member states in 2019 received more applications than during the large refugee and migrant movement to Europe in 2015 and 2016, namely Cyprus (the EU member state with the highest per capita asylum rate), France, Greece, Malta and Spain.

Lengthy procedures, pending cases

The procedure time for first-instance asylum requests remained lengthy in most countries, according to EASO, even though efforts were ramped up to expedite procedures, fast-track returns of rejected asylum seekers and increase accommodation capacities. The procedure times “frequently extended past the six-month legal time.”

The number of applications is not equal to the number of decisions made. In 2019, the number of decisions taken at first instance (excluding appeals) was 584,770, compared with 601,430 in 2018.

Meanwhile, the number of pending cases at the end of the year was almost 912,000 applications, a figure much higher than before 2015. EASO says this illustrates the pressure under which asylum and reception systems are still operating.

Select figures at a glance

Asylum applicants: Top countries

  1. Germany (22%)
  2. France (17%)
  3. Spain (16%)

Top countries of origin (for all EU+ countries)

  1. Syria (11%)
  2. Afghanistan (8.2%)
  3. Venezuela (6.2%)

Recognition rate

  • The overall rate remained unchanged, with 40% of decisions positive
  • More than half of all positive decisions were granted refugee status and the remainder, in equal shares, granted subsidiary protection or humanitarian protection
  • Country with lowest recognition rate: Czech Republic (10%)
  • Country with highest recognition rate: Switzerland (88%)

Highest recognition rate: Top countries of origin

  1. Venezuelans (96% positive)
  2. Syrians (86% positive)
  3. Eritreans (85% positive)
  4. Yemenis (82% positive)

Unaccompanied minors

  • In 2019, around 17,700 applications for protection were lodged by unaccompanied minors in EU+ countries, that’s 13 % less than 2018
  • Unaccompanied minors accounted for 2% of the total number of applicants
  • Most applications were lodged by Afghan minors (28%), with the highest share being filed in the United Kingdom (21%)

Dublin transfers

  • EU+ countries implemented about 27,200 transfers of applicants to another state (the one responsible for the asylum assessment), a 3% decrease compared with 2018


  • In 2019, approximately 30,700 persons arrived in Europe through resettlement, 8% more than in 2018
  • Syrians accounted for nearly two-thirds of all resettled persons for the third year in a row

© InfoMigrant

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