In 2017, 650 000 first time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU). This was just over half the number recorded in 2016, when 1 206 500 first-time asylum applicants were registered, and is comparable to the level recorded in 2014, before the peaks of 2015 and 2016.
Syrian (102 400 first-time applicants), Iraqi (47 500) and Afghan (43 600) continued to be the main citizenships of people seeking international protection in the EU Member States in 2017, together accounting for 30% of all first-time applicants.
3 in 10 applied for asylum in Germany
With 198 300 first-time applicants registered in 2017, Germany accounted for 31% of all first-time applicants in the EU Member States. It was followed by Italy (126 600, or 20%), France (91 100, or 14%), Greece (57 000, or 9%), the United Kingdom (33 300, or 5%) and Spain (30 400, or 5%). Among Member States with more than 5 000 first-time asylum seekers in 2017, the number of first time applicants compared in relative terms with the previous year rose most in Spain (+96%, or 14 900 more first-time asylum seekers in 2017 than in 2016), France (+19%, or 14 300 more), Greece (+14%, or 7 200 more) and Italy (+4%, or 5 400 more). In contrast, the largest relative decreases were recorded in Germany (-73%), Austria (-44%), the Netherlands (-17%) and the United Kingdom (-15%).
Highest number of first-time applicants relative to the population in Greece, lowest in Slovakia
The highest number of registered first-time applicants in 2017 relative to the population of each Member State was recorded in Greece (5 295 first-time applicants per million population), ahead of Cyprus (5 235), Luxembourg (3 931) and Malta (3 502). In contrast, the lowest numbers were recorded in Slovakia (27 applicants per million population), Poland (79), Portugal (98), the Czech Republic (108) and Estonia (138). In 2017, there were in total 1 270 first-time asylum applicants per million population in the EU as a whole.
Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan – main citizenships of asylum seekers
Syria (16% of the total number of first-time applicants) was in 2017 the main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States, a position it has held each year since 2013. Of the 102 400 Syrians who applied for asylum for the first-time in the EU in 2017, almost 50% were registered in Germany (49 000). In total, Syrian was the main citizenship of asylum seekers in fourteen EU Member States.
Iraq (7% of the total number of first-time applicants) was the second main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States in 2017. Of the 47 500 Iraqis seeking asylum protection for the first-time in the EU in 2017, close to 50% applied in Germany (21 900). Iraqi was the main citizenship of asylum seekers in three EU Member States.
With 43 600 first-time applicants (or 7% of the EU total) in 2017, Afghanistan was the third main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States. More than one-third applied in Germany (16 400).
Close to one million asylum applications pending at the end of 2017
Pending applications for international protection are applications that have been made at any time and are still under consideration by the national authorities at the end of the reference period. In other words, they refer to the “stock” of applications for which decisions are still pending. This statistic is intended to measure the workload of the national authorities.
At the end of 2017, 927 300 applications for international protection in the EU Member States were still under consideration by the national authorities. At the end of 2016, this figure was slightly higher (1 094 100). Germany had the largest share of applications pending in the EU at the end of 2017 (443 800, or 48% of the EU total), ahead of Italy (152 400, or 16%), Austria (57 700, or 6%) and Sweden (51 500, or 6%).