In 2018, 580 800 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU), down by 11% compared with 2017 (654 600) and less than half of the number recorded in the peak year 2015 when 1 256 600 first-time asylum applicants were registered. The number of asylum applicants in 2018 is comparable to the level recorded in 2014, before the peaks of 2015 and 2016.
Syrian (80 900 first-time applicants), Afghan (41 000) and Iraqi (39 600) continued to be the main citizenships of people seeking international protection in the EU Member States in 2018, together accounting for almost 30% of all first-time applicants.
These data on asylum applicants in the EU are issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. They are complemented with an article and an infographic available on the Eurostat website.
Almost 3 in 10 applied for asylum in Germany
With 161 900 first-time applicants registered in 2018, Germany accounted for 28% of all first-time applicants in the EU Member States. It was followed by France (110 500, or 19%), Greece (65 000, or 11%), Spain (52 700, or 9%), Italy (49 200, or 8%) and the United Kingdom (37 300, or 6%). Among Member States with more than 5 000 first-time asylum seekers in 2018, the number of first time applicants, rose most compared with the previous year in Cyprus (+70%, or 3 100 more first-time asylum seekers in 2018 than in 2017) and Spain (+60%, or 19 700 more), ahead of Belgium (+29%, or 4 100 more), the Netherlands (+27%, or 4 400 more), France (+20%, or 18 500 more) and Greece (+14%, or 8 000 more). In contrast, the largest relative decreases were recorded in Italy (-61%, or 77 400 fewer), Austria (-49%, or 11 100 fewer), Sweden (-19%, or 4 100 fewer) and Germany (-18%, or 36 400 fewer).
Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi – main citizenships of asylum seekers
Syrian (14% of the total number of first-time applicants) was the main citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States in 2018, a position it has held each year since 2013.Of the 80 900 Syrians who applied for asylum for the first-time in theEUin 2018, more than half were registered in Germany (44 200, or 55%). Syrian was the main citizenship of asylum seekers in eight EU Member States.
With 41 000 first-time applicants (or 7% of the EU total) in 2018, Afghan was the second main citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States. Almost 29% of Afghans applied in Greece (11 800). Afghan was the main citizenship of asylum seekers in five EU Member States.
Iraqi (7% of the total number of first-time applicants) was the third main citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States in 2018. Of the 39 600 Iraqis seeking asylum protection for the first-time in the EU in 2018, more than 41% applied in Germany (16 300). Iraqi was the main citizenship of asylum seekers in two EU Member States.
Highest number of first-time applicants relative to the population in Cyprus, lowest in Slovakia
The highest number of registered first-time applicants in
2018 relative to the population of each Member State was recorded in Cyprus (8 805 first-time applicants per
million population), ahead of Greece (6
051), Malta (4 276) and Luxembourg (3 694). In contrast, the
lowest numbers were recorded in Slovakia
(28 applicants per million population), Poland
(63), Hungary (65), Estonia (68) and Latvia (91). In 2018, in the EU as a whole, there were
1 133 first-time asylum applicants per million population.
Less than 900 000 asylum applications pending at the end of 2018
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 2018, 878 600 applications for international protection in the EU Member States were still under consideration by the national authorities (excluding Finland, as data not available). At the end of 2017, this figure was slightly higher (927 000). Germany had the largest share of applications pending in the EU at the end of 2018 (384 800, or 44% of the EU total), ahead of Italy (103 000, or 12%), Spain (78 700, or 9%) and Greece (76 300, or 9%).
Pending applications: data not available for Finland for October-December 2018
The European Union (EU) includes Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Methods and definitions
Data on asylum are provided to Eurostat by the Ministries of Interior, Justice or immigration agencies of the Member States according to the provisions of Article 4 of the Regulation (EC) 862/2007 of 11 July 2007 on Community statistics on migration and international protection. In addition, all Member States provide data on first-time asylum applicants on a voluntary basis.
The EU total is calculated as an aggregation of Member States data. Member State data refer to the number of persons applying for asylum for the first-time in that Member State. Persons may however apply for international protection in more than one Member State in a given reference year. Consequently, the EU total may include such multiple applicants.
‘Application for international protection’ means an application for international protection as defined in the Art. 2(h) of Directive 2011/95/EU, i.e. including requests for refugee status or for subsidiary protection status, irrespective of whether the application was lodged on arrival at the border, or from inside the country, and irrespective of whether the person entered the territory legally (e.g. as a tourist) or illegally.
‘First-time asylum applicant/seeker’ means a person having submitted an application for international protection or having been included in such application as a family member, for the first-time. Applications submitted by persons who are subsequently found to be a subject of a Dublin procedure are included in the statistics on first-time asylum applicants if such persons are also a subject of first asylum application. A person can be recorded as first-time applicant only if he or she had never applied for international protection in the reporting country in the past, irrespective of the fact that he or she is found to have applied in another Member State of the European Union.
This news release refers to the number of ‘First-time asylum applicants’. The indicator ‘First-time asylum applicants’ excludes repeat applicants i.e. persons applying for asylum more than once in one country and therefore more accurately presents the number of persons applying for international protection in the EU Member States. The use of this indicator is now possible as all Member States are able to provide it to Eurostat.
person being the subject of a ‘pending
application’ means a person who is the subject of an application 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 (see Art 4.1(b) of the Regulation).