10 July 2015

In 2014, there were over 660,000 applications for international protection in the EU+ (EU Member States plus Norway and Switzerland) – the highest number recorded since the beginning of EU-level data collection in 2008. At the end of 2014, more than 500,000 people were awaiting a decision on their asylum application in the EU+, meaning that the volume of pending applications increased by over 37% compared to 2013.

This information was revealed in the Annual Report of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) this week. The report aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the situation of asylum in the EU+ by examining requests for international protection to the EU, analysing application and decision data, and focusing on some of the most important countries of origin of applicants for international protection.

According to the report, the highest numbers of asylum applicants recorded in 2014 were citizens of Syria, the Western Balkan countries combined, and Eritrea. The main receiving countries were Germany, Sweden, Italy, France and Hungary.

Figures for the first months of 2015, show a 68 % rise in the number of applications for international protection in the EU+ compared to the same period last year. This follows the 43 % increase in the number of applications in 2014 compared to 2013.

At EASO’s launch event in Brussels on 8 July, ECRE’s Secretary General Michael Diedring pointed out that in spite of these striking figures, the number of applications in the EU still remains quite modest in light of the numbers of refugees hosted in other regions of the world.

“This may have become a cliché, but it is nonetheless still relevant. We welcome the fact that EASO’s Annual Report clearly acknowledges the situation. The real refugee crisis is still outside the EU, in terms of numbers. Many Member States are experiencing particular pressure and most are confronted with capacity issues, but this could be solved with real EU solidarity,” he said.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • The number of applications from Syrians reached more than 128,000. This triggered the establishment of special measures in terms of resettlement and humanitarian admission.
  • The 42,745 asylum applications by Afghans in  2014 represented a 53% increase compared to 2013. The highest number of unaccompanied minors applying for asylum in the EU+ (6,155) is also from Afghanistan.
  • The number of applications from citizens of Western Balkan countries reached 110,000 with a significant number of people from Serbia and Kosovo applying for asylum.
  • There were over 14,000 Ukrainian applicants, which represents a 13-fold increase compared to 2013.
  • 2014 marked the launch of the 7-year Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) with a budget of 3.137 billion EUR to support projects in Member States.

For further information:

Read ECRE’s comments during EASO’s launch event here.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 10 July 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.