Italy no longer among EU’s ‘top 5’ host countries for asylum seekers

Germany received the largest number of migrants in 2019 with 165,615 registered persons (22 %). France came second with 128,940 registered applications, followed by Spain with 117,795. However, for the first time since 2015, Italy is no longer in the top 5, as 43,770 people, of which most came from Pakistan, applied for asylum there. [EPA-EFE/FRANCESCO RUTA]

For the first time since 2015, asylum applications in the EU started to rise again in 2019. However, Italy is no longer among the main host countries while Germany retains its top spot. EURACTIV Italy reports.

In 2019, the number of asylum applications lodged in EU member states, the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, i.e. in the states included in the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) report, are up compared to the previous year, a phenomenon that had not been observed since 2015.

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In 2019, there was a total of 738,425 applicants, representing an 11% increase over the previous year.

An additional 16% increase was recorded in the first two months of 2020, but it was abruptly interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, EASO estimates that the upward trend will resume once the health situation improves.

Compared to 2018, migration arrivals from Venezuela (+103%) and Colombia (+214%) have seen the largest increases. A number of countries, such as France, Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Spain, received more migrants last year than during the 2015-2016 migration crisis.

However, while EU member states strengthened their reception systems, especially for unaccompanied minors, procedures remain too long in many countries.

Germany received the largest number of migrants in 2019 with 165,615 registered persons (22 %). France came second with 128,940 registered applications, followed by Spain with 117,795. However, for the first time since 2015, Italy is no longer in the top 5, as 43,770 people, of which most came from Pakistan, applied for asylum there.

The majority of asylum seekers arriving in Europe in 2019 come from Syria, Afghanistan and Venezuela.

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Case against Hungary

At the EU level, Hungary remains the least cooperative country when it comes to asylums.

According to Priit Pikamäe, Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), Hungary has failed to fulfil its obligations with regard to asylum procedures and the return of irregular third-country nationals.

The European Commission had indeed accused Hungary of violating procedural safeguards relating to applications for international protection, of illegally detaining applicants seeking such protection in transit zones and of illegitimately deporting irregular third-country nationals.

The CJEU’s Advocate General, therefore, proposed that the Luxembourg court uphold the Commission’s application.

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Hungary said Thursday (21 May) it would close “transit zone” camps where hundreds of asylum seekers and migrants were held, following a ruling by EU’s top court against their detention.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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