ECRE has published its second AIDA Legal Briefing, discussing key problems in the collection and provision of asylum statistics in the European Union (EU). The briefing draws on EU sources of data such as Eurostat and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), as well as statistical reports from national asylum authorities across AIDA countries, to examine data concerning applications for international protection, decisions and recognition rates, the functioning of the Dublin system, and detention.

The briefing submits that valuable asylum information is lacking from the EU’s knowledge base in a number of important areas. While Member States’ difficulties in complying with their reporting obligations in a timely manner are often crucial to those challenges, a number of gaps in statistical practice are directly related to the EU legal and technical framework itself. Notwithstanding recent methodological improvements in Eurostat’s statistical collection, information on the exact operation of the Dublin Regulation, including the responsibility criteria used to substantiate “take back” requests and transfers, as well as the usefulness of the Eurodac database as an assisting instrument, is still far from satisfactory. Detention of asylum seekers is even more concerning an area, given the quasi-absolute absence of information on the numbers of applicants that Member States detain and on the precise legal basis and duration of deprivation of liberty.

At the same time, timely provision of statistics persists as a challenge. Under the Migration Statistics Regulation, Member States provide Eurostat with information on different aspects of their asylum systems at different intervals. Coupled with persevering delays in the submission of data by national authorities, this prevents the possibility of a comprehensive understanding of the state of play of the Common European Asylum System at any given point. The briefing concludes that, for all the attention it attracts in political, legal and media circles in Europe, the asylum debate is fragmented, opaque and even at times misrepresented.

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