The number of asylum requests in the 25 countries of the European Union amounted to 282 thousand in 2004, one fifth below the level of the previous year. In the Netherlands the number of asylum seekers fell by more than a quarter to 9.8 thousand, the lowest number since 1988.
One and a half times as many asylum requests in 2002
For the second year running the number of persons seeking asylum in the EU 25 fell sharply. In 2002 there were nearly 426 thousand asylum seekers, approximately one and a half times as many as in 2004. More rigid immigration laws in many EU countries restricting the number of immigrants partly accounts for the decrease. A substantial decrease in the number of persons from Iraq and Afghanistan seeking asylum in Europe also plays a part in this respect.
Asylum requests in the European Union
Substantial decrease in the United Kingdom and Germany
The number of persons seeking asylum dropped in nearly all EU member states. The most substantial decrease was found in the United Kingdom: from 60 thousand in 2003 to 40 thousand in 2004 but also in Germany the number of asylum seekers fell sharply, i.e. from 51 thousand to 36 thousand.
France has largest number of asylum seekers
In the ten new member states the number of asylum seekers was still rising slightly. In France it also increased marginally: from 60 thousand in 2003 to 62 thousand in 2004. France faced the largest number of asylum requests.
Asylum requests by EU country, 2004
The Netherlands: lowest number since 1988
The number of persons seeking asylum in the Netherlands has not been this low since 1988. It dropped from nearly 44 thousand in 2000 to 9.8 thousand in 2004, even lower than in Cyprus. The Netherlands is in tenth place in the EU 25 rankings, whereas in 2000 it was still in fourth place.
Relatively few asylum requests in Southern Europe
If the population is taken into account, Luxembourg had the highest rate of asylum seekers, namely 3.5 per thousand inhabitants. Austria and Sweden were in second and third place. The Netherlands tallied with the EU average: 0.6 per thousand inhabitants. The rate is relatively low in Southern European countries, like Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece.
Asylum requests in the EU, 2004
Most asylum seekers in the EU come from Eastern Europe
In 2004 most asylum seekers came from the former Soviet Union (28 thousand), Serbia and Montenegro (19 thousand) and Turkey (14 thousand). The influx from Iraq and Afghanistan to Europe declined. For the Netherlands, however, Iraqis constituted the largest group of asylum seekers.
Han Nicolaas and Arno Sprangers