Asylum applications in Europe up by 19%

The European Asylum Support Office says asylum applications increased by 19%, significant increases in Ukrainian and Syrian refugees

In the first five months of 2014, there was a 19% rise in the number of applications for asylum in the EU compared to the same period last year.

This follows the 30% increase seen in numbers of asylum applications in 2013 compared to 2012. This emerged from a study by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

When compared to the previous years, new trends emerged in 2014. The arrival of Syrian asylum-seekers continued to increase and are in the top three countries of origin in 16 Member States.

There has also been a substantial increase in the numbers of Eritreans in recent months, arriving in Italy and applying in a number of northern countries Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

On the other hand, applications from citizens of the Russian Federation declined significantly since 2013.

However, since March 2014, there has been a significant rise in the numbers of Ukrainian citizens applying for asylum in the EU, Norway and Switzerland.

In the last 20 years the average number of applications was of roughly 100 applicants per month. From March to May, over 2,000 applications were made.

The new applications are in large part (over 95%) from first time applicants and are widely distributed throughout Europe.

As part of its Early warning and Preparedness System, EASO has recently begun to collect operational data from Member States on various aspects of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).

This has led to a much faster and more comparable data collection on the practical functioning of the Common European Asylum System.

Better data leads to a greater common understanding between Member States, EASO and the European Commission.

This is evidenced by increased requests for EASO operational support as a normal avenue of cooperation. Currently EASO is on the ground in 4 Member States, namely Bulgaria, Italy, Greece and Cyprus. All 4 plans include measures on improving statistical information.

EASO’s role will be key in 2014-15 in ensuring the implementation in practical terms of the changes introduced in the Common European Asylum System via the recast of the asylum acquis.

435,760 applications in 2013

Today EASO also released its yearly reference report which provides a comprehensive overview of the situation of asylum in the EU, by examining requests for international protection to the EU, analysing application and decision data, and focusing on some of the most important countries of origin of applicants for international protection.

The report focuses on three asylum flows that underline the very different characteristics of asylum applicants in the EU: Syria, Russian Federation and Western Balkans countries.

In 2013, 435,760 persons applied for international protection in the European Union- the highest number of applications for international protection since the beginning of EU data collection in 2008 – and represented an increase of 30% compared to 2012.

The highest numbers of asylum applicants were recorded for citizens of Syria, Russian Federation and the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia) while the main receiving Member States (MS) were Germany, France, Sweden, United Kingdom and Italy.

The overall recognition rate at first instance at EU 28 level (including humanitarian protection) stood at 34.4%,with refugee status being granted to 49,710 persons, subsidiary protection to 45,535 persons and humanitarian protection to 17,665 persons.

The highest recognition rates were noted for Syrians, Eritreans and stateless persons. At the end of 2013, more than 352 000 persons were awaiting a decision on their asylum application in the EU 28; the volume of pending applications therefore increased by +33% compared to the previous year.

With a 109% increase in the number of applications for international protection, Syria became the main country of origin of asylum seekers in the EU 28 in 2013 (applications for international protection from Syria have also been analysed by EASO in its previous annual reports in 2011 and 2012).

The increase was widespread; the volume of Syrian applicants increased in nearly all Member States in 2013.