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EMN Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum 2015: Synthesis Report

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The EMN Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum 2015 provides an overview of the main legal and policy development in the area of migration and asylum taking place at EU level and within participating countries[1].

The following key points are identified:

Common European Asylum System

  • A total of 1,321,600 asylum applications were submitted in 2015, more than double compared to 2014 (626,710 asylum applicants).
  • The high and/or unexpected influx in the number of applications for asylum and international protection presented challenges in a number of countries (AT, BE, CY, DE, EL, ES, FI, IT, LU, NL, SE, SI, NO ),
  • Challenges included managing the registration of applicants for international protection (EL, HR), a lack of reception capacity (AT, DE, SE, NO), overcrowding in existing reception facilities (AT, DE, EE, FI, PL, NO), prolonged procedures to decide on applications (BE, CZ, DE, IT, SE, NO) and an increased backlog of pending applications (BE, DE, LU, SE, NO).
  • To ensure efficient processing of applications, some Member States introduced changes related to the registration of applicants (CZ, DE, HR, LU, LV, PL, SI), the upgrading of technical/IT equipment (DE, FI, IT, MT, SE, SI, NO), as well as the establishment of special procedures (DE, IT, LT, NL, PL, NO).
  • Some Member States (AT, BE, CZ, EE, IT, LU, LV, NL, SE, SK) also revised their reception practices with a view to provide more adapted reception conditions.
  • Other Member States (BG, CZ, FR, HR, HU, IT, LU) reduced possibilities for placing applicants in detention in line with the recast Reception Conditions Directive.
  • All Members States and Norway continued to support EASO activities in 2015. Ireland together with other Member States, contributed to the deployment of experts for training-related activities, including regional train-the-trainer sessions (AT, BE, DE, EE, FI, FR, IE, MT, NL, PL, SE, SK, NO).
  • Most of the resettled refugees arrived from third countries to the EU under general resettlement schemes. Some Member States (AT, BE, CZ, DE, FR, HU, LU, SE, SK, UK) and Norway also increasingly resettled refugees originating from regions impacted by the Syrian crisis under various humanitarian resettlement schemes. Lithuania and Poland adopted specific measures concerning resettlement from Ukraine and, in the case of Poland, also from Eritrea.
  • All Member States pledged to relocate a certain number of applicants from Italy and Greece as agreed by the adoption of the EU emergency relocation mechanism. Several Member States reported on relocations having taken place by the end of 2015 including (planned) relocations for 2016. 

Unaccompanied Minors (UAMS) and other vulnerable groups

  • A total of 93,295 asylum applications were submitted by Unaccompanied Minors (UAMs) in 2015 (compared to 23,075 in 2014). 
  • The majority of Member States (AT, BE, BG, CZ, DE, EL, ES, FI, FR, HR, HU, IE, IT, LV, LU, MT, NL, PL, SE, SI, SK, UK) and Norway reported on changes to law and practice with regard to UAMs, to improve accommodation and reception capacity (AT, BG, DE, FI, FR, HU, IT, MT, NL, SE, SI, SK, NO), to better arrange the appointment of guardians and/or legal representatives (AT, BE, EL, HR, LU, PL, NO), to address vulnerability and enhance respect for the best interest of the child principle (BE, ES, IE, IT, LU, PL, SK).

European Policy on Legal Migration and Integration

  • In 2015, some Member States reported on efforts to attract workers from third countries to cover particular occupations (BG, CY, DE, EL, ES, IE, LU, LT, UK), while others reported on measures to simplify entry and stay conditions for labour migrants (AT, CZ, DE, EE, FR, HU, LV, SK, NO). Measures related to particular shortage occupations have been adopted in eight Member States (BG, CY, DE, EL, ES, LT, UK).
  • Eleven Member States (AT, BG, CZ, EE, ES, FR, IE, IT, LT, NL, UK) reported efforts to facilitate admission of highly qualified workers as part of the global competition for talent.
  • A number of Member States introduced measures to attract migrant entrepreneurs and investors, for example in relation to special ‘start-up’ visas of residence permits for migrant entrepreneurs (ES, FR, IE, IT, LT, NL, SK, UK).
  • Some Member States introduced measures to enhance labour market access during studies and after graduation (AT, BG, EE, EL, ES, FI, FR, LT, LV, NL, NO), facilitate and simplify entry and stay conditions (AT, CZ, EE, EL, ES, FI, FR, HU, IE, LU, UK), and facilitate cooperation with third countries in order to attract international students (CZ, ES, LV, NL, SK). 
  • More than half of the Member States (AT, BE, DE, EE, EL, ES, FI, HR, HU, IE, IT, LV, LT, LU, SE, SK, NL) and Norway reported new measures to enhance migrants’ integration into the labour market.

Securing Europe’s External Borders

  • In 2015, more than 1.8 million irregular border crossings (associated with an estimated 1 million individuals) were reported along the external borders of the EU.
  • A number of Member States (AT, BE, BG, CY, CZ, DE, EE, EL, ES, FI, FR, HU, IE, LT, LV, MT, NL, PL, SE, SI, SK, UK) introduced or planned new border control measures in 2015.

Irregular Migration and Return

  • In 2015, approximately 300,000 third-country nationals were refused entry at the external borders.
  • 533,395 third-country nationals were ordered to leave while 193,565 were returned, which represented an increase of 13.3% and 14.6% respectively compared to 2014.

Actions Addressing Trafficking in Human Beings

  • Efforts towards improving the identification and provision of information to victims of trafficking in human beings were reported in 2015 including the introduction of new legal acts concerning the prevention of trafficking and support to victims or amending existing ones and new strategies and action plans and the development of national systems of assistance to victims.
  • Other measures included the training of different stakeholders who might come into contact with victims, including labour inspectors, guardians, the police, prosecutors, the staff working in reception centres, etc. (AT, BE, BG, CZ, EL, FI, NL, PL, SK).

See also: EMN Annual Report on Immigration and Asylum 2015 Statistic Annex


[1] 26 EMN National Contact Points (Austria (AT), Belgium (BE), Bulgaria (BG), Croatia (HR), Cyprus (CY), Czech Republic (CZ), Estonia (EE), Finland (FI), France (FR), Germany (DE), Greece (EL), Hungary (HU), Ireland (IE), Italy (IT), Latvia (LV), Lithuania (LT), Luxembourg (LU), Malta (MT), the Netherlands (NL), Poland (PL), Slovak Republic (SK), Slovenia (SI), Spain (ES), Sweden (SW), the United Kingdom (UK) and Norway(NO))

Author: European Migration Network
Publisher: Directorate General Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission
Date of Publication: 10 August 2016
Reference Period: 10 August 2016 to 01 January 2020
Geographical focus: Europe

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