EMN publishes policy brief on migrants’ movements through the Mediterranean

07 Jan 2016

The EMN policy brief presents key data on the irregular movements of people across the EU external borders and within EU, whether as asylum seekers or as migrants in search of greater economic security, over recent years and including the first nine months of 2015.

Asylum trends in the EEA from 2009 to September 2015

Between 2009 and September 2015 there were 3.3 million asylum applications to the EEA and Switzerland.

During this period, Syrian nationals accounted for the greatest number of asylum applications in the EEA (448,000). Almost half (222,000) of these Syrian asylum applications were made in the first nine months of 2015.

The nationalities contributing the highest number of applications in the first nine months of 2015 were:

  • Syrian (448,000),
  • Afghani (103,000),
  • Iraqi (69,000),
  • Kosovo (69,000) and
  • Albania (54,000).

Among EEA Member States, the largest number of asylum applications by far, in recent years have been received by Germany. Germany received 32% (289,000) of all applications in the EEA in the period.

The Member States receiving the largest numbers of asylum seekers in the first nine months of 2015 were:

  • Germany 289,000 (32%),
  • Hungary 176,000 (20%),
  • Sweden 73,000 (8%),
  • Italy 59,000 (7%),
  • Austria 57,000 (7%), and
  • France 51,000 (6%).

Less than 100 applications were registered in Croatia and the Slovak Republic while Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Latvia all registered less than 250 applications.

Routes into the EU

The numbers detected using the Central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy increased three fold between 2013 and 2014. However, this pattern changed in 2015. Between January and September 2015 the most commonly used route for irregular entry into the EU was the Eastern Mediterranean which saw a large increase in numbers of detected arrivals.

The Western Balkan land route* also saw an increase in detections in 2014 (43,000) compared to 2013.

In 2015 Syrians have predominantly been arriving through the Eastern Mediterranean and onward land routes (Serbia, Hungary and Croatia). The Central Mediterranean route is currently being mainly used by people coming from a variety of African countries. The main nationalities of people using the Western Balkan route were from Afghanistan, Syria and in the first few months of 2015 Kosovo.

Rates of acceptance as a refugee in the EEA

The average grant rate for all nationalities applying for asylum across the EEA in the first nine months of 2015 was 48% (based on the total number of decisions made in the same period), but this varies considerably between Member states (from 14% in Hungary to 76% in Sweden).

The average rates of acceptance will vary considerably, depending on the nationalities contributing to the flow of asylum seekers being received by a particular EEA Member State.

Syrians (96%) and Eritreans (87%) have a high grant rate across EEA Member States at present for well understood reasons, while nationals from Kosovo (2%) and Albania (3%) have a very low grant rate.

For more information:

See: EMN Policy Brief on migrants’ movements through the Mediterranean

See also: EMN Inform on migrants’ movements through the Mediterranean


*Describes two main migration flows; migrants coming from the Western Balkan states into Hungary and the secondary movements of migrants who initially entered the EU through the Eastern Mediterranean through Greece, Bulgaria or Cyprus.