The European Agency for Fundamental Rights specifies five persistent challenges for migration to the European Union: access to territory, reception conditions, asylum procedures, unaccompanied children and immigration detention. Its latest report assessed the rights of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in member states from October 2016 to December 2017 and concluded that, despite some improvements in a few countries, “several issues persist – and some have even deteriorated”.
The report specifies an increasingly difficult access in almost half of EU member states because of new fences such as the one erected in Hungary. Other issues include the refusal of some migrants, contrary to the right to asylum. Access is overall getting more restrictive in asylum application procedures in many member states. This is mostly caused by the difficulties in registering asylum applications and in identifying and getting legal aid and information.
There are also some positive developments mostly around capacity and reception conditions in some EU states thanks to a drop in new arrivals. However, the situation is difficult in the countries that face the biggest influx of migrants – France, Spain, Italy and Greece where “reception facilities remained overcrowded”. The pressure on the reception facilities triggered the establishment of informal camps in three of those countries. The lack of reception capacity is especially profound in all four Western European countries – there were “between 900 and 3,300” unaccompanied children waiting in Greek informal camps during 2017.
According to Eurostat, EU member states received more than 1.2 million first-time asylum applications in 2015. Germany, Hungary, Sweden and Austria received two thirds of these applications. While in the same year, over 1 million migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea, the number dropped sharply in 2016 to around 364,000.