Dublin statistics on countries responsible for asylum application
From Statistics Explained
- Data from March 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article presents European Union (EU) statistics on the Dublin Regulation 343/2003 which aims at reducing consecutive transfers of asylum seekers from one Member State to another and at preventing abuse of the system by the submission of several applications for asylum by one person. The main principle is that only one Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application. The Dublin Regulation is the key legislation for the allocation of this responsibility. It is based on a hierarchical set of criteria, from family considerations, to recent possession of visa or residence permit in a Member State, to whether the applicant has entered EU irregularly or regularly.
The Dublin Regulation is complemented by the EURODAC regulation (EC) No 2725/2000 which established the use of an EU asylum fingerprint database, the EURODAC central system. Both regulations have been recently amended. The regulation amending the Dublin Regulation is (EU) 604/2013 and entered into force on January 2014. The amendment of the EURODAC regulation is (EU) 603/2013.
The Member States follow these regulations and send ‘requests’ to each other, for the acceptance of responsibility of an asylum application. Accordingly, the statistics refer to incoming requests (country ‘A’ reports requests received from other countries) and outgoing requests (country ‘B’ reports requests sent to all other countries).
The article describes recent trends in relation to the numbers of requests, incoming and outgoing, to take charge or take back asylum seekers or applicants respectively, broken down by reasons, i.e. the provisions on which the requests are based. The statistics also refer to subsequent stages in the process, i.e. decisions taken concerning the requests, as well as transfers resulting from acceptance decisions. Data are provided for all countries in the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes
Main statistical findings
General trends in Dublin requests
Dublin requests increased in 2009 and subsequently stabilised. As shown in Figure 1, there was a sharp increase in incoming and outgoing requests in 2009 as compared to 2008 (49 182 vs. 22 288 and 53 439 vs. 32 269 respectively). The real increase must be smaller because the 2008 data do not include Greece and Poland, which both reported high numbers of incoming requests in 2009. However, even adjusting for this, the 2009 peak is evident. This may be explained by the increased number of asylum applicants in the EU in 2009 (from around 226 000 in 2008 to 266 000 in 2009).
The trends in incoming and outgoing requests are quite similar, as the two indicators should ‘mirror’ each other, much like a network of accounting systems. Putting aside time delays in reporting and methodological differences, a Dublin request is registered twice: an incoming request reported by country A as received from country B is also reported by country B as an outgoing request addressed to country A.
After 2009, the number of incoming requests reduced in 2010 (43 296) and 2011 (43 633) and then increased in 2012 (49 182). This again reflected the increasing number of asylum applicants registered in the EU in 2012.
The number of outgoing requests fell from 2009 until 2011, but increased significantly in 2012 to 53 439 requests.
Incoming Dublin requests
In 2012 there were large disparities in incoming requests between countries (Figure 2), with Italy receiving by far the most incoming requests (12 358). Poland followed with 4 725 requests. Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Spain also recorded high values in the range of 2 500 – 4 000 requests.
EU Member States receiving many incoming requests include both primary destination countries for asylum seekers and EU-border countries. For example, Italy, Poland and Spain are EU-border countries and receive many incoming take back requests due to asylum seekers who first entered Europe through these countries. On the other hand, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, France and the United Kingdom are primary destinations and each receives many incoming take back requests from the others.
The total figures in 2012 increased significantly compared with 2011, in part due to a considerably higher number of requests in Belgium, (+1 645 requests), Poland (+1 260) and the United Kingdom (+1 063 requests) (Figure 3). Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Romania also reported increases of more than 500 in the number of incoming requests. In Hungary and Greece, a decrease of around 400 requests from 2011 was observed.
Spain recorded by far the highest growth in incoming requests between 2008 and 2012 (Figure 4). High increases were also reported by several other countries. Italy, which topped the number of incoming requests in 2012 (Figure 2) had almost three times as many requests as in 2008. Among other countries that reported significant numbers of incoming requests in 2012, Belgium and Sweden more than doubled since 2008. On the other hand, incoming requests reported by Germany, which was fifth in incoming requests in 2012, were almost stable between 2008 and 2012. A notable reverse trend over this period was observed in Greece, with requests falling by 99 %. The Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Poland also registered decreases.
There are two types of incoming and outgoing requests: ‘take charge’ or ‘take back’. In the case of take back requests, the asylum seeker in the requesting country has already submitted an application for asylum in the country receiving the request. In case of the take charge requests, the requesting country considers that other Member States should take over responsibility for examining the asylum application of individuals.
Incoming take back requests in 2012 (Figure 5) were in general much higher in most countries than incoming take charge requests. They were by far the most in Italy, followed by Belgium, Sweden, Poland and Germany. On the other hand, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Greece and Estonia received more take charge than take back requests.
The two pie charts (Figure 6) show the break-downs by reason for incoming requests (take charge and take back) in the period 2008-2012. The vast majority of incoming take charge requests were related to documentation and entry reasons (93 %). Family reasons (6 %) and humanitarian reasons (1 %) reached only 7 % combined. The vast majority of incoming take back requests concerned the lack of permission for the asylum seeker to stay (under examination: 71 %; rejection: 25 %). Withdrawal of applications (during the Dublin procedure and followed by new applications) was the reason for only 4 % of the incoming take back requests (2 % in each case).
Outgoing Dublin requests
Large disparities can also be observed between countries in total outgoing requests in 2012 (Figure 7), with Germany and Switzerland submitting by far the most (11 574 and 11 029 respectively). They were followed by Sweden (7 805), France (5 389), Belgium (4 119), Austria (3 657) and Norway (2 183). The remaining countries recorded values below 2 000. Compared with the relatively high number of incoming requests in 2012 (12 358 - see Figure 2), Italy submitted only 1 550 outgoing requests to partner countries in the same year.
Sweden and Germany observed significant increases in sent outgoing requests between 2011 and 2012 (+4 077 and +2 315 respectively) (Figure 8). Switzerland followed with an increase of 1 682, and France and Denmark reported increases of more than 500.
Significantly higher growth in outgoing requests between 2008 and 2012, as compared with other countries, was observed in Estonia, Malta, Greece and Latvia (Figure 9); however only in Greece was the number of outgoing requests significant in absolute terms (Figure 7). Among the countries that reported more than 4 000 outgoing requests in 2012 (Figure 7), requests more or less doubled in Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Switzerland over the period 2008 - 2012.
Similar to the distribution of incoming requests by take charge and take back, and as expected due to the ‘mirroring’ mentioned, outgoing take back requests in 2012 were much higher than take charge requests in the majority of countries (Figure 10). Exceptions can be observed in Greece, Ireland and Portugal, as well as in some countries with very few outgoing requests not shown in Figure 10. The most outgoing take back requests in 2012 by far were submitted by Germany, followed by Switzerland, Sweden, France, Austria and Belgium. In Belgium, these were almost equal to take charge requests.
As for the reasons for submitting outgoing take charge and outgoing take back requests in the period 2008-2012, the patterns are quite similar to incoming requests. For outgoing take charge requests, documentation and entry reasons, family reasons and humanitarian reasons accounted for 94 %, 5 % and 1 % respectively. The vast majority of outgoing take back requests were due to the asylum seeker’s lack of residence permit (under examination: 75 %; rejection: 24 %). Withdrawal of applications during the Dublin procedure followed by a new application accounted for only 1 % of outgoing take back requests during 2008-2012.
Interactions between countries
There are pairs and groups of countries forming local ‘flows’ of requests. By far the most incoming requests in 2012 were received by Italy (Table 1), and most of them were submitted by Switzerland (5 020), Sweden (2 006) and Germany (1 945). Other notable interactions between countries are highlighted in Table 1:
- Incoming requests received by Poland, mainly from France (1 523) and Germany (945).
- Exchange of requests between Germany and Sweden; Germany received 763 incoming requests from Sweden while Sweden received 1 179 requests from Germany.
- Incoming requests received by Belgium from Germany (1 327) and France (752).
- Incoming requests received by the United Kingdom from Belgium (1 136).
- Incoming requests received by Switzerland from Germany (901).
Most countries with high numbers of incoming requests received them mainly from Germany, France and Sweden. This is in agreement with the statistics on asylum seekers. The highest numbers of asylum seekers in 2012 were reported by France and Germany.
The ‘mirror’ figures of outgoing requests in 2012 (Table 2) show a similar picture. Most of the outgoing requests were submitted by Germany, Switzerland and Sweden, and most of the outgoing requests were addressed to Italy. The differences observed are due to methodological reasons, such as time delays in reporting, differences in counting (persons vs. requests which may include family members), differences in the management and treatment of administrative data etc. However, one can verify some key findings on notable interactions mentioned earlier in terms of incoming requests (figures highlighted in Table 2):
- Outgoing requests submitted by Switzerland (6 605), Sweden (2 685) and Germany (2 469) to Italy.
- Outgoing requests addressed to Poland, mainly from France (1 530) and Germany (1 378).
- Outgoing requests sent by Germany, addressed to Belgium (1 375).
- Outgoing requests sent by Germany, addressed to Sweden (1 286).
- Outgoing requests sent by Belgium, addressed to the United Kingdom (1 192).
Requests based on the EURODAC system
In 2012, countries that sent many outgoing requests also made significant use of the EURODAC system for cross-checking. Statistics on EURODAC-based incoming requests show how many requests received by a country in a reference year have been cross-checked against EURODAC, the EU asylum fingerprint (dactyloscopy) database.
Among the countries which received more than 2 500 incoming requests in 2012, (i.e. Italy, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, and Spain), Belgium reported the highest use of the EURODAC system (90 %), followed by Italy (77 %). Spain, Poland and Germany (51 % - 60 %), while Sweden reported no use of the system (Figure 11). Italy reported by far the highest contribution to EURODAC-based incoming requests in 2012, as a result of both a very high number of incoming requests and a high use of the system in these requests.
Among the 13 countries which reported shares of 75 % and above of EURODAC-based incoming requests, six had received more than 1 000 total incoming requests.
The patterns in the EURODAC-based incoming requests are better explained through the corresponding figure for the EURODAC-based outgoing requests (Figure 12).
Among the countries which sent more than 2 000 outgoing requests in 2012, (i.e. Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, France, Belgium, Austria and Norway), the use of the EURODAC system was high in Norway (78 %), Germany (72 %), Switzerland (70%) and Austria (69 %), while in the rest of these countries the share of EURODAC-based outgoing requests was between 47 % and 57 %.
The contribution of these countries together with the interactions between countries offer an explanation of the patterns observed in EURODAC-based incoming requests. For example, the very high share of EURODAC-based incoming requests reported by Belgium is due to incoming requests sent from countries making much use (in absolute numbers) of the EURODAC system, notably Germany and France.
Among the 15 countries which reported shares of 68 % and above of EURODAC-based outgoing requests, eight had sent more than 1 000 total outgoing requests. The highest contribution, as shown in Figure 12, was by far from Germany.
There are large differences between countries in the proportion of requests which are pending. At the end of 2012, Italy had by far the most pending Dublin requests (incoming: 3 058; outgoing: 978) (Figure 13). More than 100 pending incoming requests were recorded in Germany (136), Norway, Sweden, Austria and Belgium. Poland and Denmark reported more than 50 pending incoming requests. In total, pending incoming requests at the end of 2012 were slightly higher (3 945) than pending outgoing requests (3 666).
Italy had by far the highest share of pending requests among total incoming requests, 25 % (Figure 14). Among the remaining countries with more than 2 500 incoming requests in 2012 (i.e. Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Germany and Spain), the share of pending requests was low, ranging from 0 % in Spain to 4 % in Germany. After Italy, relatively high shares (5 % - 10 %) of pending requests were reported in Lithuania, Denmark, Greece, Norway and the Czech Republic. The high proportion observed in Liechtenstein (13 %) should be interpreted with caution, as the country received only 8 incoming requests.
Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Malta received relatively many incoming requests in 2012, but had no pending requests, while in Poland, France, Hungary and Romania shares of pending requests were 1 % - 2 %.
On the other hand, Denmark (10 % pending ), Greece (8 % pending) and the Czech Republic (6 % pending) received relatively few incoming requests in 2012, but had relatively high shares of pending requests.
Decisions on Dublin requests
Decisions are proportional to requests and follow similar patterns. Countries receiving or submitting many requests also reported high numbers of decisions taken on those requests in 2012 (Figure 15). Of course, decisions can be delayed and may refer to requests lodged during previous reference years. However, due to the relative stability in the incoming and outgoing requests in each country in recent years, this proportionality does exist. More specifically, Italy, Poland, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Spain were top for incoming requests and related decisions. Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, France, Belgium and Austria were top for outgoing requests and related decisions.
In 2012, Italy (Figure 16) approved the most incoming requests (7 363), followed by Poland (4 257). Germany, Belgium, Spain and Sweden also accepted high numbers of incoming requests. Comparing acceptance decisions with the total number of incoming requests in the same year, very high ratios can be observed in Poland, Spain and Romania and a relatively low ratio in the United Kingdom. These ratios however should not be perceived as actual acceptance rates, since due to possible delays in the decision-making process, some of the decisions taken during a given year might refer to requests submitted in previous years.
In 2012, the largest numbers of accepted outgoing requests (9 328) were observed in Switzerland (Figure 17), followed by Germany (7 916) and Sweden (5 477). In relative terms i.e comparing acceptance decisions with the total number of outgoing requests in the same year, and not taking into account countries with very few outgoing requests, the highest rates of acceptance were observed in Switzerland, Austria, the United Kingdom and Denmark. The lowest rate was recorded in Italy, which was in fact the lowest of all countries, regardless of the number of outgoing requests sent.
Transfers resulting from outgoing requests did not exceed 30 % in the period 2008-2012 (Figure 18). The statistics on transfers refer to actual transfers from one country to another carried out. Some of the persons under the Dublin procedure may no longer appear to the authorities and abscond during the procedure and therefore cannot be effectively transferred. In addition a person may also return to the country of origin, or be transferred on the basis of other rules (e.g. returns or readmission agreements).
In 2012, Switzerland (4 637), Germany (3 062), Sweden (1 741), Austria (1 009), Belgium (969), the United Kingdom (714), Norway (706) and France (598) reported the highest number of outgoing transfers (Figure 19). Table 3 includes all pairs of countries with more than 100 outgoing transfers in 2012. The sending countries are the 9 top ones in Figure 19.
As shown in this table:
- Switzerland, which reported by far the most transfers in total, made the majority of transfers to Italy (2 981), followed by Spain (389), France (228) and Germany (211).
- Germany, the country reporting the second largest number, made transfers mainly to Italy (562), Poland (427), Belgium (426), Sweden (281), France (215), Switzerland (212) and Austria (209).
- Sweden reported transfers mainly to Italy (350), Germany (289), Norway (269), Poland (127) and Denmark (104).
Requests for information
Italy and Germany received the most requests for information in 2012. Results on incoming requests for information in 2012 show that incoming Dublin requests for information were higher than outgoing. Between 100 and 200 incoming Dublin requests for information were reported by Portugal, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Malta, Finland and the Czech Republic. Switzerland, Hungary, Sweden, Greece, Spain and Poland received between 400 and 1 000 requests for information.
France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany topped with 1 012, 1 168, 2 005 and 2 482 requests respectively. The high values in these countries can be explained by the fact that these are among the countries receiving the highest numbers of asylum applicants.
Portugal, Poland, Germany, Denmark, France and Finland reported more than 100 outgoing requests for information. Ireland, Austria and Sweden reported 649, 1 026 and 1 674 requests respectively, and Switzerland topped the list with 4 412.
Data sources and availability
Reference to the data collections on international migration and asylum are provided by the Ministries of Interior, immigration agencies or related agencies or police forces in general, based on Regulation 862/2007 (July 11, 2007) which refers, among others, to the obligation of submitting Dublin statistics.
Data are collected on an annual basis (calendar year) and must be transmitted by reporting countries no later than 3 months after the end of the reference period. Data are released by Eurostat approximately 2 weeks after reception.
Since 1999, the EU has focused on the creation of a Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and the improvement of the current legislative framework. Between 1999 and 2005, several legislative measures harmonising common minimum standards for asylum were adopted. New EU rules have now been agreed, setting out common high standards and stronger cooperation to ensure that asylum seekers are treated equally in an open and fair system – wherever they apply. In brief:
- The revised Asylum Procedures Directive aims at fairer, quicker and better quality asylum decisions. Asylum seekers with special needs will receive the necessary support to explain their claim and in particular there will be greater protection of unaccompanied minors and victims of torture.
- The revised Reception Conditions Directive ensures that there are humane material reception conditions (such as housing) for asylum seekers across the EU and that the fundamental rights of the concerned persons are fully respected. It also ensures that detention is only applied as a measure of last resort.
- The revised Qualification Directive clarifies the grounds for granting international protection and therefore will make asylum decisions more robust. It will also improve the access to rights and integration measures for beneficiaries of international protection.
- The revised Dublin Regulation enhances the protection of asylum seekers during the process of establishing the Member State responsible for examining the application, and clarifies the rules governing the relations between Member States. It creates a system to detect early problems in national asylum or reception systems, and address their root causes before they develop into fully fledged crises.
- The revised EURODAC Regulation allows law enforcement access to the EU fingerprint database of asylum seekers under strictly limited circumstances, in order to prevent, detect or investigate the most serious crimes, such as murder and terrorism.
The Dublin Regulation
The Dublin Regulation (the evolution of the Dublin ‘Convention’, sometimes called the Dublin II Regulation), Regulation (EC) 2003/343 establishes the Member State responsible for the examination of the asylum application. The Dublin Regulation replaced the 1990 Dublin Convention which first set the criteria relating to a country responsible for processing an asylum application. The Dublin Regulation remained valid until 1 January 2014, when the new Regulation (EU) (604/2013), adopted on 26 June 2013, entered into force.
The Dublin system establishes the principle that only one Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application. The objective is to avoid asylum seekers from being sent from one country to another, and also to prevent abuse of the system by the submission of several applications for asylum by one person. The criteria for establishing responsibility range, in hierarchical order, from family considerations, to recent possession of a visa or residence permit in a Member State, to whether the applicant has entered the EU irregularly or regularly.
All EU Member States apply the Dublin Regulation and its amendment, as do the countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), outside of the European Union, i.e. Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Experience from the previous system proved the need to better address situations of particular pressure on the Member States’ reception capacities and asylum systems. The new Dublin system contains sound procedures for the protection of asylum applicants and improves the system’s efficiency through:
- An early warning, preparedness and crisis management mechanism, geared towards addressing the root dysfunctional causes of national asylum systems or problems stemming from particular pressures.
- A series of provisions on protection of applicants, such as a compulsory personal interview, guarantees for minors (including a detailed description of the factors that should lie at the basis of assessing a child’s best interest) and extended possibilities of reunifying them with relatives.
- The possibility for appeals to suspend the execution of the transfer for the period when the appeal is judged, together with the guarantee of the right for a person to remain on the territory pending the decision of a court on the suspension of the transfer pending the appeal.
- An obligation to ensure legal assistance free of charge upon request.
- A single ground for detention in case of risk of absconding; strict limitation of the duration of detention.
- The possibility for asylum seekers who could in some cases be considered irregular migrants and returned under the Return Directive, to be treated under the Dublin procedure - thus giving these persons more protection than the Return Directive.
- An obligation to guarantee the right to appeal against a transfer decision.
- More legal clarity of procedures between Member States — e.g. exhaustive and clearer deadlines. The entire Dublin procedure cannot last longer than 11 months to take charge of a person, or 9 months to take him/her back (except for absconding or where the person is imprisoned).
The EURODAC Regulation
The EURODAC Regulation established an EU asylum fingerprint database. The current Regulation (EC) (2725/2000) will remain valid until 20 July 2015 when the amended Regulation (EU) (603/2013) becomes applicable. When someone applies for asylum, no matter where they are in the EU, their fingerprints are transmitted to the EURODAC central system. EURODAC has been operating since 2003 and has proven to be a very successful IT tool.
Some updates were however required, in particular to reduce the delay of transmission by some Member States, to address data protection concerns and to help combat terrorism and serious crime.
The new Regulation improves the regular functioning of EURODAC:
- It sets new time limits for fingerprint data to be transmitted, reducing the time that elapses between the taking and sending of fingerprints to the Central Unit of EURODAC.
- It also ensures full compatibility with the latest asylum legislation and addresses data protection requirements.
- Until now, the EURODAC database could only be used for asylum purposes. The new Regulation now allows national police forces and Europol to compare fingerprints linked to criminal investigations with those contained in EURODAC. This will take place under strictly controlled circumstances and only for the purpose of the prevention, detection and investigation of serious crimes and terrorism.
Cautions on quality and comparability
For a few Member States, fully disaggregated data may not be available. Concerning the comparability of the data and according to the guidelines, Dublin statistics should refer to persons, as stated in the text of Art. 4 of the Statistics Regulation (Council Regulation 862/2007 for asylum statistics). However, the respective Article dealing with Dublin statistics (Art. 4.4) refers to statistics based on the number of requests. Commission services have resolved the ambiguity and recommend that Art. 4.4 be interpreted as referring to the number of persons concerned by the request, decision and transfer. However, there are technical reasons leading some countries to supply statistics relating to the number of requests, rather than persons and these requests may even concern family members.
Further Eurostat information
- Technical guidelines for the data collection under Art. 4.4 of the Regulation 862/2007 ‘Dublin Statistics’
- Data in Focus 12/2013: Asylum applicants and first instance decisions on asylum applications: second quarter 2013
- Data in Focus 16/2013: Asylum applicants and first instance decisions on asylum applications: third quarter 2013
- Population (populat), see:
- International Migration and Asylum (migr)
- Asylum (migr_asy)
- Dublin statistics (migr_dub)
- ‘Dublin’ requests (migr_dubreq)
- Decisions on ‘Dublin’ requests (migr_dubdec)
- Transfers (migr_dubtransf)
- Dublin statistics (migr_dub)
- Asylum (migr_asy)
Methodology / Metadata
- Dublin statistics (ESMS metadata file - migr_dub_esms)
Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)
- Country responsible for asylum application (Dublin) - DG Home Affairs
- Dublin II Regulation - Europa, summaries of EU Legislation - Annual EURODAC report - DG Home Affairs
- The European network for technical cooperation on the application of the Dublin II regulation
- Not shown in the figures and tables.
- Not shown in the figures and tables.