1. In September 2023, EU+ countries received some 108,000 asylum applications, marking the highest level since the refugee crisis of 2015-16
2. If current trends persist, it is projected that the EU+ will receive more than a million asylum applications by the end of 2023.
3. Syrians continued to lodge by far the most applications in September 2023 and Turkish applications soared, now ranked second.
4. Germany maintained its position as the foremost destination for asylum seekers in the EU+, receiving more than a quarter of all applications lodged in the EU+.
5. At the end of September 2023, the number of cases awaiting first instance decisions rose to 770,000, the most since the aftermath of the refugee crisis of 2015-16
6. At the end of September 2023, there were about 4.2 million beneficiaries of temporary protection in the EU+ who fled Ukraine following Russia’s full-scale invasion. Notably, Czechia hosted the most beneficiaries per capita, with 34 for every 1,000 inhabitants.
Almost continually since August 2022, the EU+ countries have received over 80,000 asylum applications per month, marking a significant increase that has not been observed for many years. In September 2023, this figure further increased to 108,000 applications, a level reminiscent of the refugee crisis of 2015-16. If the current trends continue, it is projected that the EU+ will receive more than a million asylum applications by the end of 2023.
However, these high levels of asylum applications do not fully capture the extent of individuals arriving in the EU+ with protection needs. Approximately 4.2 million displaced persons from Ukraine are currently benefitting from Temporary Protection.
These concurrent trends - the surge in asylum applications and the influx of displaced persons from Ukraine - are exerting immense strain on the EU+ asylum and reception systems. National authorities are being pushed to their limits in their efforts to accommodate and safeguard those in need.
In the realm of asylum applications within the EU+, a significant shift was observed in September 2023: Syrians, who have long dominated the asylum landscape, lodged the most applications for seven years (20,000) while Afghans the usual second-place holder, lodged 17% fewer applications compared to the same month in 2022, totalling just 11,400. Simultaneously, there was an unexpected surge of Turkish asylum seekers lodging 11,500 applications in September 2023. This figure represents double that of the same month in 2022, and the most on record, bringing Türkiye to the second most common country of origin for asylum applications in the EU+.
These three nationalities share several commonalities. In 2023, they were the most frequently detected nationalities illegally crossing the EU external border via the Western Balkan route. Furthermore, Germany emerged as the primary destination for these three nationalities, with half of all Syrian applications, more than half of all Turkish applications, and over a third a third of Afghan applications being lodged there in September 2023. This trend underscores Germany’s role as a key destination within the EU+.
Also noteworthy in September was the significant increase in applications lodged by nationals from Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire within the EU+. In fact, both Guineans and Ivorians lodged record numbers of applications in September, with 2,400 and 2,100, respectively. This marked staggering increases of 145% and 185% compared to the same month in 2022. These two nationalities were among the most frequently detected arriving in the Central Mediterranean. However, the majority of their asylum applications were lodged in France, which underscores the dynamic and evolving nature of asylum application patterns within the EU+.
In a trend seemingly detached from irregular migration, there persists a high volume of asylum applications from Venezuelans and Colombians, and to a lesser extent, Peruvians. These Latin American nationals, who enjoy visa-free access to the Schengen area, continued to submit significant numbers of applications in September 2023: 5,300 from both Venezuela and Colombia, and 1,900 from Peru. While these figures represent a slight decrease from recent peaks, they are markedly higher compared to the same month in 2022 (+17%, +31%, and +64%, respectively). The majority of these applications were lodged in Spain, accounting for more than 90% of Venezuelan applications and 88% of Colombian applications in September 2023, plus nearly all were first-time applications, suggesting that the applicants were newly arrived to the EU+. In response to challenges linked to visa-free travel, particularly the high numbers of unfounded asylum applications, the Commission adopted a proposal in October 2023 to strengthen the visa suspension mechanism.
To eliminate month-to-month fluctuations, the above chart provides offers a comprehensive overview of the asylum application trends of the top 20 nationalities in September 2023, over the last 12 months (yellow) in comparison to the preceding 12 months (blue). Syrians and Afghans lodged the most applications for asylum during both these time periods. However, Syrian applications saw a considerable increase (+50%), whereas Afghan applications remained relatively stable.
Most citizenships in the chart exhibited an upward change in their application numbers, which is to some extent a statistical artefact because we would expect those with decreasing trends to more likely drop below the top 20, and vice versa for those with increasing trends. Nevertheless, it is notable that Turks, Russians and Peruvians all lodged more than twice as many applications during the 12 months leading up to September 2023. Notably, Ivorians, Egyptians, Moroccans, and Guineans also lodged many more applications in the past year.
In contrast, among these top citizenships, only Nigerians, Tunisians and Iraqis lodged fewer applications in the twelve months leading into September 2023.
In September 2023, Germany maintained its position as the foremost destination for asylum seekers in the EU+, receiving 30,000 applications or 27% of all applications lodged in the EU+. Remarkably, Germany alone received more applications than the next two receiving countries combined, namely France with 13% of all applications (15,000) and Spain with 12% (14,000). Italy too featured prominently in the asylum landscape with over 12,000 applications which represents a non-trivial 11% of all applications in the EU+. It is worth noting that taken together these four countries received just under two thirds of all applications lodged in the EU+ in September 2023.
Comparisons with September 2022 reveal some notable increases: applications in Germany increased by 41%, in Spain by 21%, in Italy by 45%, and in Greece applications more than doubled (+111%).
Evaluating which EU+ countries tend to receive the most applications for asylum is important but to some extent a simple like-for-like comparison is not appropriate because the EU+ countries vary wildly in terms of the size and capacity of their asylum and reception systems. As a rough measure of their overall capacity and a more nuanced estimation of the pressure exerted on national authorities, this chart illustrates the number of asylum applications lodged per million inhabitants (Eurostat population data).
In September 2023, Austria, with a population size of around 9.1 million, received 8,300 asylum applications. This translates to 912 applications per million population, which is roughly 1 application for every 1,100 inhabitants. Germany reported more applications for asylum (30,000); however, given its larger population of 84 million, the German rate is lower at 351 applications per million inhabitants, or 1 application per 2,900 inhabitants. Spain and Belgium, while receiving very different numbers of applications per se (14,000 and 3,200, respectively), tended to be under similar pressure per capita. Each country had around 280 applications per million population.
Taking the whole EU+ into consideration: its population of 463 million and 108,000 asylum applications received in September 2023, converts to 234 applications per million population, or about 1 application for every 4,300 persons.
Uniquely among EU+ countries, Hungary received very few applications for asylum in September 2023, probably because of special conditions required to submit an asylum application which were introduced by the Hungarian government in May 2020. Read more in the EUAA Asylum Report 2021.
In addition to asylum applications, as of the end of September 2023, there were also 4.2 million persons benefiting from temporary protection. This protection is based on a 2001 Directive which was triggered for the first time in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The aim is to offer quick and effective assistance to people displaced to the EU+. At the end of September 2023, half of all beneficiaries of temporary protection were either in Germany (1.2 million) or Poland (1 million). For the context and to allow comparisons with the inflow of asylum applications, the chart above can also be used to illustrate the number of beneficiaries of temporary protection per capita in each EU+ country. In Czechia there were about 34,000 beneficiaries per million inhabitants, followed by Estonia, Poland and Bulgaria (all at 26,000).
Over the last year, the recognition rate, which reflects the percentage of asylum applications that receive decisions granting refugee status and subsidiary protection, fluctuated around 40%. In August and September 2023, this trend continued with a slight increase first to 44% in August and then to 46% in September, which represents the highest rate recorded for more than three years.
It is worth noting that, recognition rates for most of the main citizenships differ wildly from each other but tend to remain relatively steady over time. For example, in September 2023, Bangladeshis continued to have a recognition rate of around 6% and Pakistanis 12%, all in line with preceding months. However, there are recent exceptions, such as Iraqis for whom the recognition rate increased from 23% in September 2022 to 58% in September 2023. However, by far the most significant changes in recent times took place for:
- Turks - the recognition has been in steady decline over the last two years from 52% in December 2021 to 22% in September 2023
- Syrians – the recognition rate has been above 90% almost consistently for the last two years and in September it remained stable at 94%. However, over the same period there has been a trend favouring decisions granting subsidiary protection over refugee status, with refugee status falling from almost 50% at the end of 2021 to just 26% in September 2023.
Read EUAA Country Guidance on Syria and the following EUAA COI reports from 2022 on Syria Security situation, Targeting of individuals, Socio-economic situation and Major human rights, security and humanitarian developments
- Afghans – In the aftermath of the Taliban takeover in autumn 2021, the recognition rate for Afghans jumped from its usual value of just above 50% to more than 90%, before gradually returning to its former level. Adding to the complexity, there was another increase to 66% in September 2023.
Read EUAA Country Guidance on Afghanistan and the following EUAA COI reports from 2022 on Afghanistan Targeting of Individuals, Security Situation, Key socio-economic indicators and Major legislative, security-related, and humanitarian developments
It should be noted that some applicants, especially those from Venezuela and to a lesser extent from Afghanistan, tend to be granted national (rather than international) forms of protection which are unregulated at the EU level and are therefore considered as negative asylum decisions in these statistics. Also, these recognition rates are based on first instance decisions issued by asylum authorities and do not account for cases decided by judiciary and other authorities at second or higher instance i.e. appeal and review. Read more in the EUAA Factsheet no 19 on recognition rates.
The aim of EUAA’s work is to foster a harmonised implementation of the Common European Asylum System across the EU so as to reach a situation where an application for international protection would receive the same decision, no matter where it was lodged. Recognition rates, the percentage of asylum applications that receive decisions granting refugee status or subsidiary protection, are sometimes cited as an indicator of the level of such harmonisation between EU+ countries.
It is important to recognise that several objective factors may lead to variations in recognition rates. The complexity of an asylum application and its examination cannot be reduced to a single measure such as the nationality of the applicant. Differences in the underlying profile of the applicant, national jurisprudence and national policies, or the application of certain legal concepts also come into play and can result in different recognition rates (Read Asylum Report - National policies on specific profiles and nationalities). Irrespective of underlying causes, the chart presented here illustrates recognition rates across the EU+ for various citizenships. In each column, individual circles represent different issuing countries, with the size of each circle reflecting the number of decisions issued, and their placement on the vertical axis indicating the corresponding recognition rate—namely, the percentage of decisions that resulted in the granting of refugee status or subsidiary protection.
Between July and September 2023, the EU+ recognition rate for Afghans stood at 64% but as the chart shows, there was much variation between EU+ countries. Most decisions were issued by Germany (the biggest circle) where the Jul-Sep recognition rate stood at 53%. However, it is important to note that Germany also issued many decisions to Afghans granting a national form of protection (41% of all first instance decisions, not shown). France also issued many decisions to Afghans with a July-September recognition rate of 71%, while Switzerland issued 98% positive decisions to Afghans, compared to Belgium with 28%. Read EUAA Country Guidance on Afghanistan.
In contrast, the recognition rate for Syrians exhibited a much higher degree of consistency among EU+ countries. Among the countries issuing the most decisions for Syrians, Cyprus had a recognition rate of 100%, Austria 99%, Bulgaria 98%, the Netherlands 93% and Germany 92%. Notwithstanding the 53% recognition rate for Syrians in Greece, this similarity in recognition rates suggests a more consistent assessment of protection needs among Syrians across these EU+ countries.
While an application is awaiting a first instance decision, it is part of the first instance caseload of applications under examination, or so-called pending cases. The number of pending cases serves as a key indicator that reflects the workload faced by national authorities and the strain on national asylum systems, including reception systems. As of the end of September 2023, some 770,000 cases were awaiting a first instance decision which is more than at any other point since early 2017 when EU+ countries were still processing applications lodged during the refugee crisis of 2015-16.
In general, citizenships lodging the most applications tend to have the most cases awaiting decisions. For example, in September 2023, Syrians and Afghans had the largest share of first instance pending cases (105,000 and 75,000, respectively). This situation was particularly pronounced for Syrians, with a 57% increase compared to September 2022, while the number of pending cases for Afghans increased to a lesser extent by 16%.
Over the past year, several nationalities have seen their pending cases more than double. This trend was especially evident for Colombians and Peruvians primarily in Spain, Turks mostly in Germany, and Egyptians primarily in Italy.
Context: EU+ asylum authorities are under pressure to increase their decision making, and do so often with the operational support of the EUAA. Despite these efforts, decision making has not kept pace with the number of applications being lodged. As a consequence, we estimate that the total number of cases awaiting a decision at the end of August 2023 (including those in appeal or review) increased to around 1,010,000 (Eurostat - missing data estimated). Within this total, we conclude that just under three quarters (73% or 740,000) of cases were pending at first instance, while the remaining quarter (27% or 270,000) were awaiting decisions at second or higher instances.
The Survey of Asylum-related Migrants (SAM) is a multi-country project designed to collect testimonies directly from people seeking international protection across the EU+. Based on the premise that digital literacy is increasingly prevalent, the project uses online, self-administered surveys that can be completed on smartphones and offers the possibility to survey large numbers of migrants at the same time. The primary objective of SAM is to establish a permanent system of collecting standardised, reliable, and comparable data on relevant topics, such as push and pull factors, travel histories and migrants’ future aspirations. Understanding these drivers both facilitates general preparedness to deal with a high number of arrivals but also to better inform policymakers.
On 11 April 2022, the EUAA launched the Survey of Arriving Migrants for Displaced People from Ukraine, with the support of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The questionnaire was updated in February 2023 to include additional topics. Demographics of the responses since February 2023, as of 6 November 2023, are shown below but for more detailed information read the latest EUAA Employment and Education factsheet.
The survey is ongoing and accessible in Ukrainian, Russian and English at: https://tellusyourstorysurvey.eu/
For more information on SAM and on other projects related to displacement from Ukraine, access the following reports:
This Migration Research Series paper highlights four research projects employed by the EUAA that seek to understand displacement from Ukraine to the European Union.
The report covers national developments in the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive, from crisis measures to changing legislation and practices.
*Blank fields are indicative of EU+ countries not reporting on certain indicators
**Low values are rounded to the nearest 5
|Country code||EU+ country||Authority||Disclaimer|
|AT||Austria||Federal Ministry of the Interior||No major differences are expected between national and EUAA data. If discrepancies occur, they could be the result of differences in the timing of data extraction, the scope of data definitions, collection methodologies and/or retrospective revisions.|
|BE||Belgium||Office of the Commissioner-General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS)||
|BG||Bulgaria||State Agency for Refugees||No major differences are expected between national and EUAA data. If discrepancies occur, they could be the result of differences in the timing of data extraction, the scope of data definitions, collection methodologies and/or retrospective revisions.|
|CH||Switzerland||State Secretariat for Migration||No major differences are expected between national and EUAA data. If discrepancies occur, they could be the result of differences in the timing of data extraction, the scope of data definitions, collection methodologies and/or retrospective revisions.|
|CY||Cyprus||Asylum Service, Ministry of Interior|
|CZ||Czechia||Ministry of Interior|
|DE||Germany||Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)||National and EUAA data should be aligned for all indicators, but there may be differences for some breakdowns. Relocated applicants aren't considered in national statistics. In national statistics withdrawn applications are included in otherwise closed cases ("sonstige Verfahrenserledigungen"). Some first-instance decisions that in EUAA statistics are considered as negative decisions, in national statistics are classified as otherwise closed cases.|
|DK||Denmark||The main causes to differences between national statistics and EUAA EPS data is the group of cases included in the statistics. For example, national statistics for asylum includes both first- and final-instance determinations and both applications, determinations in appeal, reopened cases and determinations in review.|
|EE||Estonia||European Police and Border Guard Board (in Estonian only)||In general, the data should not differ, there may be cases where the data is corrected afterwards. The small difference with Eurostat data is due to the fact that Eurostat rounds the data.|
|ES||Spain||Ministry of Interior||
|FR||France||French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons|
|HR||Croatia||Ministry of Interior|
|HU||Hungary||National Directorate-General for Aliens Policing|
|IE||Ireland||International Protection Office|
|IT||Italy||Department of Civil Liberties and Immigration, Ministry of Interior|
|LT||Lithuania||Migration Department, Ministry of Interior|
|LU||Luxembourg||Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs||National indicators do not include children born on the Luxembourgish territory during the asylum procedure of its parents, while those children are included in the EUAA statistics. Another reason for differences can be adjustments of the data that are carried out retrospectively on the provisional data provided to EUAA.|
|LV||Latvia||Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs|
|MT||Malta||International Protection Agency|
|NL||Netherlands||Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND)|
|NO||Norway||Directorate for Immigration (in Norwegian only)||
Applications: National indicators are based on the date of making the applications. The revised numbers for 2022 count persons strictly. So if one person applied for both international protection and TPD only one is counted. The pseudo-algorithm for withdrawals are disregarded compared to other statuses. If a person have multiple TPDs only, the first one is counted. The same for multiple applications for international protection.
Decisions issued: National indicators are based on the most recent decision at first instance before the case is transferred to second/final instance. For example, if a person receives a decision of implicit withdrawal and then re-appears, and receives another decision this decision will be reported in the statistics. We use the same logic to Eurostat, but the first deicion is reports to EUAA."
|PL||Poland||Office for Foreigners||
|PT||Portugal||Immigration and Borders Service||No major differences are expected between national and EUAA data. If discrepancies occur, they could be the result of differences in the timing of data extraction, the scope of data definitions, collection methodologies and/or retrospective revisions.
|RO||Romania||General Inspectorate for Immigration|
|SI||Slovenia||Ministry of Interior|
|SK||Slovakia||Ministry of Interior|
Asylum applications include all persons who have lodged or have been included in an application for international protection as a family member in the reporting country during the reporting month.
EU+ refers to the 27 European Union Member States, plus Norway and Switzerland.
First instance decisions include all persons covered by decisions issued on granting EU-regulated international protection status (refugee or subsidiary protection) following a first time or repeated application for international protection in the first instance determination process.
Stock of pending cases includes all cases for which an asylum application has been lodged and are under consideration by the national authority responsible for the first instance determination of the application for international protection (until the first instance decision has been issued) at the end of the reference period (i.e. last day of the reference month). It refers to the “stock” of applications for which decisions at first instance are still pending.
The EU+ recognition rate includes EU-regulated forms of protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and excludes 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
This page is produced by EUAA’s Situational Awareness Unit (SAU) based on monthly data exchanged under the Early warning and Preparedness System (EPS). The data shared with the EUAA by EU+ countries are provisional and unvalidated and, therefore, may differ from validated data submitted to Eurostat at a later stage under Regulation (EU) 2020/851.
Date of release: 16 November 2023