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Situation of Asylum in the European Union: 2019 overview

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© EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries. The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the European Union.1
Source: EUROSTAT, from 2010 to 2019.

Based on Eurostat migr_asyappctza, migr_asypenctzmmigr_asydcfsta and migr_asydcfina as of 27 April 2020.

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.



Applications for international protection in the EU+

In 2019, almost 740 000 applications for international protection were lodged in EU+ countries,2an increase of 11 % compared to 2018. This was the first time since the migration crisis of 2015 that the number of applicants started to climb, in part due to a sharp rise in applications from Venezuelan and other Latin American nationals. In fact, in 2019 top receiving countries, such as France, Greece and Spain, received more applications than during the migration crisis.

Applications continued to be concentrated in a small number of Member States. In 2019, France, Germany and Spain received more than one-half of all applications in EU+ countries, followed at a distance by Greece. In contrast, Italy received far fewer applications for the second consecutive year, associated with significantly reduced irregular migration along the Central Mediterranean route. Based on EASO calculations, Cyprus, Greece and Malta received the most applications for international protection relative to their population sizes.

Three countries of origin accounted for one-quarter of all applications for international protection in EU+ countries in 2019. In absolute numbers, applicants from Syria lodged about 80 000 applications, followed by Afghanistan (about 61 000) and Venezuela (about 46 000). Often language and cultural connections can play a role in where an application is lodged. This was typically the case for Latin Americans (Venezuelans and Colombians, but also nationals of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) who lodged applications primarily in Spain. Visa-free travel may also play a role in where an application is lodged. A significant new trend in 2019 was an increase in the number of applications lodged by citizens of countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen area,3 which accounted for more than one-quarter of all applications (about 188 500).

In 2019, about 17 700 applications for international protection were lodged by unaccompanied minors, representing 2 % of the total.4 While total applications increased in EU+ countries, the share of unaccompanied minors decreased compared to the share in 2018 (3 %). In relative terms, there was a 13 % decrease in applications lodged by unaccompanied minors between 2019 and 2018. It is worth noting the sharp increase in the number of unaccompanied children from Afghanistan, with a 46 % rise compared to 2018.


Asylum decisions: first and higher instances

In 2019, EU+ countries issued approximately 585 000 decisions on first instance applications.5 This indicated a continuation of the declining trend in the number of decisions rendered on applications for international protection since 2016. Five countries accounted for three-quarters of all decisions taken on international protection: France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain. Most first instance decisions were issued to nationals of Afghanistan, Syria and Venezuela, accounting for one-quarter of all decisions in EU+ countries in 2019. Applicants from Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Palestine, Tunisia, Morocco and Yemen received significantly more decisions in 2019 compared to the year before.

In 2019, EU+ countries issued about 313 000 decisions on second or higher instance applications, similar to 2018. Three countries, France, Germany and Italy, issued three-quarters of all decisions at higher instances in EU+ countries in 2019. The appeals body in Germany continued to issue far more final decisions than any other EU+ country, with 131 000 decisions representing 42 % of all decisions. The most decisions were still issued for appeals lodged by citizens of Afghanistan (41 885 or 13 % of the total), Iraq (22 280 or 7 %) and Syria (22 125 or 7 %). Altogether these three citizenships received more than one-quarter of all final decisions in 2019, but a lower proportion than in 2018 (when they received one-third of all decisions).


Recognition rates at first instance (asylum authorities) and higher instances (appeals bodies)

The EU+ recognition rate at first instance in 2019 was 40 %, almost on par with the previous year. Just over one-half of all positive decisions (approximately 128 500) granted refugee status, with the remainder granting subsidiary protection status and humanitarian protection in almost equal shares. A noticeable development in 2019 was the number of positive decisions granted to applicants from Venezuela. The recognition rate for Venezuelans was 96 % in 2019, compared to just 29 % in 2018 but these positive decisions almost exclusively granted national protection in Spain rather than EU regulated international protection. Other nationalities with high recognition rates included: Syrians (86 %), Eritreans (85 %) and Yemenis (82 %). In contrast, applicants from North Macedonia and Moldova received the lowest proportion of positive decisions, at 1 % each.

The recognition rate for decisions issued at final instance was 32 %, down from 37 % in 2018. Overall, the recognition rate in appeals tends to be lower than that at first instance but this is not always the case. In particular, many more positive decisions at final than at first instance were issued for nationals of Bangladesh (with a final recognition rate of 28 % at second or higher instances, compared to just 8 % at first instance), Senegal (24 % compared to 7 % at first instance) and Mali (31 % compared to 16 % at first instance).


Pending cases awaiting a final decision

At the end of 2019, close to 912 000 applications for international protection were still awaiting decisions in EU+ countries, a stable trend compared with 2018. Overall, the backlog was still much higher than pre-crisis levels, which illustrates the heightened pressure under which EU asylum systems are currently operating. Germany continued to have by far the most open cases, but in contrast to many other EU+ countries, there was a reduction in the backlog between the end of 2018 and 2019. The stock of pending cases was considerable and growing in Belgium, Greece, France, Spain and the United Kingdom. Calculations based on Eurostat and EASO data suggest that more than one-half of all cases awaiting a decision (or over 540 000) were pending at first instance. In all countries with significant increases in the number of pending cases, the trend was largely driven by the fact that more applications were being lodged, and thus, most of the backlog was accrued at first instance.



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.



[1]  The designation "Kosovo" is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence". 
[2] If not stated otherwise, EU+ will be understood as EU28 plus Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland.
[3] Regulation (EU) 2018/1806.
[4] 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’.
[5] 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.