Number of people seeking asylum in Europe increases by 30 per cent in 2013

According to a new report, the number of people seeking asylum in the European Union has increased by 30 per cent compared to 2012 figures.

By Kayleigh Rose Lewis

08 Jul 2014

The annual report, released by the European asylum support office (EASO), states that in 2013, 435,760 people applied for international protection in the EU.

These figures represent the highest number of applicants since the data started being collected in 2008, and a 109 per cent increase in the number of Syrian applications in the past year.  

Home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmström, who was speaking at the launch of the report on Monday, said, "EASO has documented what is going on both within the EU and across the world so that we can better monitor the situation and the flow of persons who intend to apply for protection.

The Swedish official said that this is vital because what happens outside the EU's borders "will quite immediately have repercussions at our borders as well, so we need to be as prepared as we possibly can".

She continued, "The report is also important because it gives you are more detailed overview of the trends throughout the year.

"Where do people come from, how do they travel, where do they go in Europe, where are there weaknesses in our national systems."

Recent trends, aside from the increase in Syrian asylum seekers, include a 'substantial increase' in the number of Eritreans arriving in Italy and applying for asylum in Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

The commissioner said, "There is a strong emphasis on assisting Syrians at the moment, but there are also other countries that would need support.

"People do embark on rickety vessels, on very dangerous travels because there are very few if any legal ways to get to Europe"

"People do embark on rickety vessels, on very dangerous travels because there are very few if any legal ways to get to Europe, and one way to… come to Europe in a safe way would be through increased resettlement.

"We must increase this and this is clear aim we are working with EASO, member states, UNHCR and others to make sure that all countries engage in resettlement and take their part of the responsibility and building up the capacity to do so."

The report highlighted Germany, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Italy as the main receiving states, and the overall recognition rate in first instances across all member states was just 24.4 per cent.

It also states that at the end of 2013 there were more than 352,000 people awaiting a decision on their applications, an increase of 33 per cent on 2012.

Speaking about the recent EU asylum laws, Malmström said, "The newly agreed laws will lead to fairer, quicker and better quality of the asylum decisions.

"There will be greater protection of unaccompanied minors, victims of torture and women who have suffered sexual violence.

He said that the laws will "ensure a humane reception" and  improve "conditions such as housing" for those seeking asylum in Europe, as well as guaranteeing that the "fundamental rights are fully respected" .

"There will be greater protection of unaccompanied minors, victims of torture and women who have suffered sexual violence"

In addition, the laws have "considerably reduced the possibility to detain asylum seekers" and established that "all member states must make sure that the decisions, the interviews and the handling are done by qualified persons".

In concluding, the commissioner said, "In some member states there are minor adjustments to be done, some have more to do and some countries will actually have to build up basically a system from the beginning.

"But," she said, "With all this in place in a couple of years hopefully all 28 countries can take responsibility, as we know today not even half of the member states really do their part in receiving the asylum seekers.

"So we hope that this will lead to similar procedures, similar outcomes, similar conditions no matter where an asylum seeker hands of their application."

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