Asylum in the European Union: 2017

The Eurostat yearbook‘s chapter Population provides information on asylum (article describes recent developments in relation to numbers of asylum applicants and decisions on asylum applications in the EU).


The number of first time asylum applicants in the EU-28 in 2017 was 650 thousand. This latest figure for 2017 marked a decrease of 560 thousand first-time applicants across the EU-28 in comparison with the year before, as the number of first-time applicants fell from 1.2 million in 2016 to 650 thousand in 2017.

Syria was the main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU Member States in 2017, a position it has held each year since 2013. In 2017, the share of Syrians in the EU-28 total dropped from 27.8 % to 15.8 %. Despite this drop, Syria was the main country of citizenship in fourteen EU Member States.

Around 95.2 thousand people in the EU-28 received positive final decisions based on appeal or review in 2017, of which 49.6 thousand were granted refugee status, 31.1 thousand were granted subsidiary protection, and a further 14.6 thousand were granted humanitarian status.

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The number of first time applicants fell from almost 1.26 million in 2015 to 1.20 million in 2016.

In 2016, the share of first time asylum applicants in the EU-28 from Syria dropped from 28.9 % to 27.8 %. Afghani citizens accounted for 15 % of the total number of first time asylum applicants and Iraqis for 11 %.

In 2016, there were 1.1 million first instance decisions in all EU Member States, almost double the number in 2015. By far the largest number of decisions was taken in Germany, constituting 57 % of the total first instance decisions in the EU-28 in 2016. In 2016 61 % of EU-28 first instance asylum decisions resulted in positive outcomes, that is grants of refugee or subsidiary protection status, or an authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons. For first instance decisions, some 54 % of all positive decisions in the EU-28 in 2016 resulted in grants of refugee status.

Source: Eurostat