Friday

30th Jul 2021

Infographic

Europeans also seek EU asylum

  • (Photo: European Commission)

All the arguments that have broken out in Europe on the right of asylum in recent years - and the accompanying racism - are based on the idea that asylum seekers are those arriving from across the Mediterranean or Turkey, originating in Africa and Asia.

In reality, among those who applied for asylum in EU countries last year there were almost 100,000 European citizens: Albanians, Turks, Russians, Georgians, Ukrainians, Armenians, and others.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

These asylum seekers tend to escape the attention of public opinion and political powers, perhaps because many are minors, but also perhaps because some are perceived as Europeans and as less of an identity threat than their sub-Saharan Africa counterparts.

France was one of the few exceptions to this general lack of interest, since Albanians formed the largest body of asylum seekers in the country last year, forcing the press and politicians to take notice.

Indeed, Albanians represented a significant proportion of Europeans seeking asylum in Europe: in 2017, 22,000 Albanians sought asylum - by far the highest number compared to all other nationalities, whether in absolute terms, or in proportion to the population (almost 1 percent of Albanian citizens sought asylum in the EU last year).

(Photo: EDJNet)

The vast majority of Europeans who seek asylum in the European Union turn to Germany or France. In recent years, however, both countries have adopted an increasingly strict policy, as a result of the spike in applications received (from Europeans too) in 2015.

This led to placing more countries of origin on the list of "safe countries", rapid evaluation procedures with very low acceptance rates, forced repatriation, agreements with origin countries to stem the flow, and threats to reintroduce visas in the Schengen Area.

"In France the authorities now start from the presumption that applications like those from Albanians are bogus, and therefore these asylum seekers are not even offered accommodation. The basic idea is that you shouldn't be too nice with them", said Oliver Peyroux, who studies European immigration in France.

"Absent from all this is reflection on the causes that push these people to leave, and on what can be done to help them," he said.

"But very often basic knowledge is absent. For many French people, for example, the Albanians remain something of a mystery."

It is true that even before the recent tightening of restrictions EU countries rejected the majority of asylum applications originating from European countries.

It is also true that in many cases those seeking asylum are not people faced with specific dangers or threats, but rather economic migrants with few other options for moving abroad.

As the Albanian journalist Fatjona Mejdini confirmed, among her fellow citizens who leave there are many young people and families who cannot find work in their own country.

More applications accepted

Even if authorities tend to consider applications from Europeans as being bogus, the numbers tell a slightly different story.

In 2017, EU countries accepted about 18 percent of these applications, while five years earlier they granted asylum to only 8 percent of those who applied.

The lower rate of rejection certainly is not attributable to any greater generosity on the part of governments, but rather to a reflection of the objective precarity of living conditions in various European countries.

It is not just asylum seekers from Turkey and Ukraine - obviously exposed to very serious danger - who are having more luck with their applications, but also those from almost all the other nationalities.

For example, year-on-year Albanian asylum seekers are accepted more and more often: within the EU as a whole, successful Albanian asylum applications went from 500 to 1,600 in five years.

The reasons for this are primarily linked to dangers such as blood feuds, domestic violence, and discrimination against LGBT people and the Roma community.

As certain media reports have shown, these are very real and concrete dangers - even if the Albanian government and press tend not to speak about them, or deny the specificity of asylum seekers' claims.

Author bio

This article was produced by Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa as part of the European Data Journalism Network. It was translated by Ciaran Lawless.

EDJNet is a platform for data-driven news on European affairs brought to you in up to 12 languages by a consortium of media and data journalists from all over Europe, which includes EUobserver.

EU asylum claims drop, Germany registers most

EU states, plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, registered 728,470 asylum applications last year, a 44 percent drop compared to 2016. Germany had the highest registrations at 222,560, followed by Italy and France.

EU asylum reform on life support

The prospect of an EU consensus on asylum reform is dire, but even if leaders agree, their position will differ vastly from European Parliament demands.

EU delays Macedonia and Albania talks

Accession talks to start in 2019, not this year as hoped, after France, Denmark and Netherlands force delay despite breakthrough on Macedonia name dispute.

'We are not slaves': Brussels' migrant hunger-strike

Almost 500 undocumented migrants in Brussels have been demanding a legal pathway for residency in Belgium. Most have been on hunger strike since 23 May, with some now refusing water. MEPs are demanding the Belgian government offer them a solution.

Frontex chief accused of possible rights 'cover up'

A group of MEPs delivered their final report into the EU's border agency Frontex. After a four-month probe, they found it had failed to take its responsibility to protect fundamental rights at Europe's external borders.

Syria refugees prefer Libya sea-crossing to 'dangerous' Greece

A group of Syrians fleeing their country say that Greece has become too dangerous and expensive as an option to enter the EU, in order to claim asylum. They have instead opted for Libya and the highly-risky Mediterranean sea-crossing.

News in Brief

  1. US backs WHO plan for further Covid-origin investigation
  2. EU to buy 220,000 supplies of potential Covid treatment
  3. Report: Balkan states seek 'mini-Schengen'
  4. Lithuania sees new spike in migrant crossings from Belarus
  5. Google challenges Germany's new hate-speech law
  6. EU pauses Brexit legal threat on Northern Ireland
  7. US names its ambassador to EU
  8. UK in talks with US for travel corridor

Feature

The exploited Sikh labourers babysitting Italy's buffalos

The migrant workers are exploited (by landlords and dairy-businessmen) like slaves. They work up to 14-hours per day, every single day non-stop without any leave, for barely €400 per month. If they get injured, their bosses hide these incidents.

On board with SOS Méditerranée

Libyan police lieutenant: 'Coast guard are smugglers'

The Libyan coast guard actively works with smugglers and are run by a militia, an ex-Libyan lieutenant police officer. The EU is buying the guard three new P150 high speed patrol boats.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Can Greece work with Biden to solve the West Balkans impasse?
  2. EU and UK frustrated at US travel ban extension
  3. Polish judges rally behind EU court ruling
  4. Why 'Fit for 55' isn't fit for purpose
  5. EU hits vaccination target, as Delta variant now dominates
  6. European arms 'displaced over a million people', research finds
  7. Brexit: what is the 'Lugano Convention' and does it matter?
  8. US maintains summer travel ban on EU tourists

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us