Syrian asylum seekers push EU protection claims to 435,000

Large increase to almost 435,000 asylum applicants registered in the EU28 in 2013

The Lampedusa shipwreck provided Malta with an enduring image of the suffering of Syrians being pushed away from their war-torn country
The Lampedusa shipwreck provided Malta with an enduring image of the suffering of Syrians being pushed away from their war-torn country


In 2013, 435 000 asylum applicants were registered in the EU28. It is estimated that around 90% of these were new applicants and around 10% were repeat applicants. In 2012, there were 335,000 asylum applicants.

In 2013, the highest number of applicants was registered in Germany (127,000 applicants, or 29% of total applicants), followed by France (65,000, or 15%), Sweden (54,000, or 13%), the United Kingdom (30,000, or 7%) and Italy (28,000, or 6%). These five Member States accounted for 70% of all applicants registered in the EU28 in 2013.

Compared with the population of each Member State, the highest rates of applicants registered were recorded in Sweden (5,700 applicants per million inhabitants), Malta (5,300), Austria (2,100), Luxembourg (2,000), Hungary and Belgium (both 1 900).

Rates below 100 applicants per million inhabitants were observed in seven Member States: Portugal (50), the Czech Republic (65), Estonia (70), Romania (75), Slovakia (80), Latvia and Spain (both 95). In 2013, there were 860 asylum applicants per million inhabitants in the EU28.

Syria (50,000 asylum applicants, or 12% of the total number of applicants) became in 2013 the first main country of citizenship of these applicants, ahead of Russia (41,000, or 10%), Afghanistan (26,000, or 6%), Serbia (22,000, or 5%), Pakistan (21,000, or 5%) and Kosovo (20,000, or 5%).

In some Member States, a large proportion of the applicants came from a single country. The Member States with the highest concentrations were Poland (84% of the applicants came from Russia), Latvia (76% from Georgia), Romania (68% from Syria) and Bulgaria (63% from Syria).

More than a third of first instance decisions were positive

In 2013 in the EU28, 65% of first instance decisions made on asylum applications were rejections, while 15% of applicants were granted refugee status, 14% subsidiary protection and 5% authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons. It should be noted that first instance decisions made in 2013 may refer to applications registered in previous years.

If the proportion of positive decisions varies considerably among Member States, it should be kept in mind that the country of origin of applicants also differs greatly between Member States.


An asylum applicant means a person having submitted an application for international protection or having been included in such application as a family member during the reference period. For reasons of simplicity, the term "applicant" has been used in this Release, because the data counts individuals rather than applications, which include in some cases several persons.

First instance decision means a decision made in response to an asylum application at the first instance level of the asylum procedure.

Rejected applicants have the possibility to appeal against refusal. The outcomes of the appeals may overturn the results of the first instance decisions and may vary greatly between countries.

Person granted refugee status at first instance means a person covered by first instance decision granting refugee status, taken by administrative or judicial bodies during the reference period. Person granted subsidiary protection status means a third country national or a stateless person who does not qualify as a refugee but in respect of whom substantial grounds have been shown for believing that the person concerned, if returned to his or her country of origin, or in the case of a stateless person, to his or her country of former habitual residence, would face a real risk of suffering serious harm and is unable, or, owing to such risk, unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country.

Person granted authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons includes persons who are not eligible for international protection, but are nonetheless protected against removal under the obligations that are imposed on all member states by international refugee or human rights instruments or on the basis of principles flowing from such instruments. Examples of such categories include persons who are not removable on ill health grounds and unaccompanied minors.