Despite the fact that the EU issues a high number of asylum decisions by national asylum systems in the so-called EU+, which helped decreased the backlog, almost half a million cases are pending.In January this year, around 54,000 applications for international protection were lodged in the 28 EU Member States, including Norway and Switzerland (EU+). Despite issuing nearly 60,000 decisions in the first round, some 450,000 cases were still awaiting a decision.
Even though these numbers are lower than for the most part of last year, the numbers suggest that the asylum situation in Europe has not yet completely recovered from the effects of the upsurge in application in 2015-2016.Combined, EU+ countries are issuing more first-instance decisions on asylum cases that the number of new applications that are being submitted, which reflects the success of the management system that has been put into place. Consequently, there was a decrease in the number of pending cases, down from approximately a million in late 2016 to less than half a million at the end of January 2018.
A third of all asylum applications in the EU+ were submitted by citizens of just five countries: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. The number of Syrian applications was the lowest monthly number since February 2014, while other nationalities went up.Interestingly, figures show that Georgians became the sixth most common citizenship among all applications in the first instance. This is an indication that Georgians have been applying for asylum in increasing numbers since a Visa-Liberalization agreement for travel in the Schengen Area took effect in March 2017. Taking into account this increase, applications more than doubled compared to the number registered four months earlier (from 874 in September 2017 to 1,859 in January 2018).