The arrival of over a million people into the EU in 2015 triggered a political crisis, and continues to divide European nations. But, the latest figures show that although the number of people arriving are still higher than before the crisis, fewer people sought asylum in the EU last year. The report shows there was a sharp drop in claims.
This was published earlier in the week following the emergency talks in the German government, after a migrant rescue ship was banned from both Italy and Malta, and eventually docked in Spain. Germany has taken more asylum applications than any EU country., followed by Italy, France and Greece.
According to the EU’s asylum office, there were around 730,000 applications in the year 2017. This is down from over 1.3 million in 2015, and the 1 million who applied in 2015. Many of the applications were from individuals fleeing the war in Syria; Iraq and Afghanistan are also among the most frequent countries of origin for asylum seekers. People from these three countries make up around 29% of all the claims made.
In addition, there’s also been a sharp drop in the number of people making the journey across the eastern Mediterranean to Greece, and across the central Mediterranean to Italy: which are both considered to be extremely dangerous routes. However, more people are now travelling to Spain from West Africa.
The EU has spent over two years in talks over common asylum laws, but these negotiations are still in deadlock and a quota system still hasn’t been agreed by a number of member states. This is causing tension, as some countries, like Germany, have taken far more refugees than others. These disputes have resulted in a large backlog for claims: nearly 955,000 claimants are still waiting for a decision, which includes 443,640 in Germany.
The EU leaders plan to discuss this further at next week’s summit. A representative from the UN refugee agency, Sophie Magennis, has stressed the importance of the EU agreeing on a fair system for accepting refugees going forward. “Now really is the time for EU member states to come together and to agree on their approach to this issue. We do not have a crisis of numbers, we continue to a crisis of political will and that is something that needs to be addressed,” she said.
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