Latest Asylum Trends

June 2020

The visualisation below provides an overview of the key indicators regarding the situation of international protection in the EU+ in the past 24 months. The size of the different circles in the countries of origin is proportional to the volume of applications lodged in EU+ countries, the colour of the circle reflects the recognition rate at first instance (blue - high, red - low). The shade of the country reflects the stock of pending cases at the end of the selected year. By clicking on a circle, the evolution of these key indicators for the citizenship selected is displayed in the lower panel. Note that data until the end of 2019 include the United Kingdom (30 EU+ countries), whereas data as of January 2020 exclude the United Kingdom (29 EU+ countries).

Reference month:   Citizenship:   

 
 
 
 
 

Source: EASO EPS, June 2018 – June 2020.

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. However, until the end of 2019 data for the EU+ include also the United Kingdom.

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 in 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.

 

 

Key findings

  • Despite the continuing gradual easing of containment measures across the EU+, asylum activities are still not fully resumed in most countries, with persisting effect on asylum trends.
  • In June, some 31 500 applications for international protection were lodged in the EU+, increasing considerably from May but still comparable with March, when the impact of emergency restrictions first became visible. 
  • There continued to be many more applications for asylum than detections of illegal border-crossing at the EU external border.
  • The share of repeated applicants (11 %) remained higher than the levels before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic despite a decline compared to the previous two months.
  • Compared to May, a wide range of citizenships started to lodge more applications but nearly all were still lodging fewer applications compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.
  • After recent increases, Syrians and Afghans continued to lodge the most applications for asylum. Venezuelans and Colombians suddenly started to lodge many applications again, after two months of very low levels of applications. 
  • Some 34 300 decisions were issued at first instance, somewhat more than in May but similar to April.
  • For the fourth successive month, more first-instance decisions were issued than applications were lodged, although the gap became much smaller.
  • At the end of April, some 965 000 cases are estimated to have been pending at all instances (including appeals).
  • At the end of June, some 426 700 cases were pending at first instance in the EU+, decreasing for the fourth consecutive month.
  • The EU+ recognition rate for EU-regulated forms of protection was 37 %, similar to the previous month but higher than in the beginning of the year.
 

 

EU+ picture: In June, asylum applications lodged in the EU+ more than tripled from May and almost returned to the level in March, which was at about half the number prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. EU+ countries issued slightly more decisions than last month, and more than the number of applications that were lodged. As a result, there was some reduction in the number of pending cases at first instance.

Asylum activities still affected by containment measures in place across the EU+

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, EU+ countries introduced various restrictions, which resulted in a sharp drop in asylum applications in March 2020 and a further drop in April. Then in May applications increased slightly but in June applications tripled to 31 495.1 More than three quarters of all applications were lodged in just four countries. Almost all of the EU+ countries received fewer applications in June than in the first two months of the year, which indicates that the impact of emergency measures has not disappeared. EU+ countries continued to gradually ease restrictions and resume asylum services step by step but emergency measures continued to apply to a different extent. Strict protocols and preventative health measures are likely to have continued to limit the number of applications that could be lodged, while a backlog of cases awaiting to be lodged has been formed in some countries. More information on developments in this regard is available in the recent report “COVID-19 emergency measures in asylum and reception systems”.

So far in 2020 about 212 100 applications have been lodged in the EU+, much lower – by 37 % – than in the same period last year. In comparison, so far this year there have been just 36 400 detections of illegal border-crossing, a drop by nearly a fifth from the same period in 2019.2 Hence, even throughout the COVID-19 period, there continued to be many more applications for international protection than detections at the EU external border.

In June, the share of repeated applications among all applications lodged was 11 %, decreasing after two consecutive months on the rise but still higher than in the first two months of 2020 (8 - 9 %).3 Applications lodged by self-claimed unaccompanied minors (UAMs) represented some 3 %, in line to earlier periods. 

In June, EU+ countries issued some 34 266 decisions at first instance, considerably more than in May but similar to April.4 Even though the number of first-instance decisions remained lower than before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, still more decisions continued to be made than applications lodged – a trend that has been sustained since March. Some EU+ countries returned to the level of decisions issued in the beginning of 2020 but others were far from catching up.

At the end of April 2020, about 965 000 cases were pending at all instances (also including appeals) in the EU+.5 In June, the number of pending cases at first instance decreased for the fourth successive month and reached some 426 667 cases at the end of June. This decrease was visible in most but not all EU+ countries.

Atypically, the EU+ recognition rate6 at first instance varied during the last few months, likely as a result of different prioritisation patterns of cases processed during the pandemic. In June, the recognition rate was 37 %, similar to the previous month but higher than in the beginning of the year.  

Applications lodged by top citizenships

Which citizenships are lodging the most applications for asylum? At the present time, this is influenced by differential resumption of activities in the EU+ asylum authorities, as well as asylum-related migration trends to the EU+.

In June, Syrians (4 068), Afghans (3 137), Venezuelans (2 831), and Colombians (2 419) lodged the most applications in the EU+, jointly accounting for two fifths of all applications. While Syrian and Afghan applicants continued to lodge the most, Venezuelans and Colombians regained prominence after two months of very few applications.

Pakistanis, Iraqis, Nigerians, Turks, Bangladeshis, Guineans, Congolese (DR), Moroccans, and Somalis also lodged significant numbers of applications in June. Many lodged more applications than in April and May, and some even more than in March (Afghans, Pakistanis, Guineans, Bangladeshis, Congolese (DR), and Moroccans) but none returned to the level prior to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

Although the number of applicants from nationals of some Western Balkan counties – Albania, Kosovo, and Serbia – as well as The Gambia was relatively low, they continued to have very high shares of repeated applicants. 

Overall close to half of all self-claimed UAMs were Afghans and Syrians but, the proportion of UAMs among Afghan applicants (11 %) was much higher than for other nationalities. There were 43 Venezuelan UAMs applying for asylum after no such cases were recorded in the previous two months.

 

 
 

Focus on relevant citizenships

Syria – In June 2020, Syrians lodged an increasing number of applications (slightly above 4 000) for the second consecutive month and more than twice as many as in May but still  fewer than the pre-COVID levels of January and February 2020. Overall, around 13 % of all applications in the EU+ in June were lodged by Syrians, down from 19 % in the two previous months.

At the same time, Syrians were issued stable numbers of first-instance decisions compared to May (above 5 000). Hence, Syrians continued to be issued more decisions than they were lodging applications such that, at the end of June, the number of Syrian cases awaiting a decision at first instance continued to decrease and reached the lowest value (≈35 500) in years. Most cases (54 %) were pending for more than six months.

The vast majority of Syrians were granted international protection (90 %) in June, the highest level among all major citizenships applying for asylum in the EU+ and up by eight percentage points compared to May. So far in 2020, the recognition rate for Syrians fluctuated from 80 % in February to 90 % in April and June and stood at 85 % in 2019. 

Afghanistan –
In June, Afghans (≈3 100) lodged more than three times as many applications in the EU+ as in May, but still below that prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe. 

First-instance authorities issued some 3 000 decisions on Afghan cases, 5 % more than in May. However, the Afghan backlog remained considerable at almost 47 000 cases. Some 68 % of this backlog pertained to cases older than six months.

The EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued to Afghan applicants rose to 58 % in June. This was the highest so far in 2020 and also above the level of the last quarter of 2019 (50 %).

Venezuela – With some 2 800 applications lodged in June, Venezuelans became again, as earlier this year, the top third citizenship group lodging the most applications in the EU+. This was a significant change compared to April and May, when applications almost halted (just 211 altogether) due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related emergency measures. 

The trend was similar regarding the number of first-instance decisions issued to Venezuelans that increased to 5 222 in June but remained still below the levels in the beginning of 2020. At the end of June, some 17 600 cases were pending at first instance (over two thirds of those for fewer than six months) compared to more than 29 000 in April and May. 

Only one in every 100 applications received a positive decision in June. Even though the EU+ recognition rate for Venezuelans was low overall (ranging from 2 % to 18 % between June 2019 and May 2020), this was the lowest monthly recognition rate in over a year. However, it should be noted that the recognition rate reported here does not consider national forms of protection, which have been granted to Venezuelans in some EU+ countries.

 


First instance decisions for top citizenships

In June, most first instance decisions were issued to Venezuelans, Syrians, and Afghans, together accounting for 39 % of all such decisions in the EU+. While the number of decisions taken on Syrian and Afghan cases remained stable compared to May, those on Venezuelan cases rose compared to the previous three months. In contrast, decreases from May to June took place for Iraqis, Nigerians, and Georgians, among others. However, for most citizenships the level of decisions either increased or remained stable.


EU+ recognition rates in top citizenships

Among the top 10 citizenships of origin receiving most decisions at first instance, Syrians (90 %) and Eritreans (83 %) continued to have the highest recognition rates in June. Applicants with somewhat fewer decisions7 but relatively high recognition rates included Palestinians (72 %) and Yemenis (84 %). The recognition rate for all these citizenships rose compared to May but in some cases returned to the level in April. In contrast, just 1 % of the Venezuelans and 5 % of the Pakistanis were granted refugee status or subsidiary protection.8 The recognition rate was quite low also for applicants of Albania, Bangladesh, The Gambia, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Serbia, and Ukraine (between 0 % and 5 % each). Overall, the monthly variation in recognition rates was wider during the pandemic than before; more details on the reasons behind this variation can be found in the “EASO Special Report: Asylum Trends and COVID-19 - Issue 2”.


Pending cases for top citizenships

At the end of June, most pending cases at first instance still belonged to Afghan (46 937 or 11 % of the total cases pending in the EU+) and Syrian (35 502 or 8 %) applicants. The backlog continued to decrease for both of these citizenships as well as for a range of other nationalities. Compared to May the largest absolute drops in pending cases were for Venezuelans and Colombians,9 followed at quite some distance by Syrians, Ukrainians, Salvadorans, Turks, Hondurans, and Iraqis among others. Conversely, there were hardly any increases in the stocks. Among the citizenships with most pending cases, only for Venezuelans the backlog of cases awaiting a decision for fewer than six months was larger than the backlog of older cases. 

 

This page is produced by EASO’s Situational Awareness Unit (SAU) on the basis of monthly data exchanged under the Early Warning and Preparedness System (EPS). The data shared with EASO by the EU+ countries are provisional and unvalidated, and therefore may differ from validated data submitted to Eurostat (according to Regulation (EC) No 862/2007). In line with the dissemination guide on EPS data, EASO cannot publish data disaggregated per EU+ country.

Date of release: 11 August 2020



Notes
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[1]  In June, data on asylum applications, first-instance decisions and cases pending at first instance were available for all EU+ countries.
[2]  Frontex, News Release: Situation at EU external borders – Arrivals down in first half of 2020, 13 July 2020.
[3]  Repeated application refers to an application for international  protection lodged after a final decision has  been made on a previous application by the same person in the same reporting country.
[4]  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.
[5] Eurostat, migr_asypenctzm, accessed on 5 August 2020. Due to missing April data for Cyprus the March data value is included in the calculation. An indication of the cases pending at second and higher instances (i.e. in appeal or review) may be drawn by comparing the number of cases awaiting a decision at first instance (EPS data), with those pending at all instances of the administrative and/or judicial procedure (Eurostat migr_asypenctzm).
[6]  This recognition rate does not include national forms of protection, which Venezuelans and other nationals are granted in some EU+ countries.
[7]  Only citizenships with more than 100 decisions in June are considered.
[8]  However, as the EASO Asylum Report 2020 shows, in 2019 Venezuelans were often granted humanitarian protection in Spain, the country that issued most decisions on this nationality. In the first six months of 2019, no Venezuelans issued first-instance decisions in Spain were granted any EU-regulated types of protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) but 99 % of the decisions granted humanitarian status. Source: Eurostat, migr_asypenctzm, accessed on 7 August 2020.
[9]  Data on pending cases for these citizenships might be subject to technical revisions.