Majority of asylum seekers in need of international protection, according to Eurostat first instance asylum statistics

More than two thirds of the 29,490 decisions issued by the Asylum Service on asylum applications in the first half of 2020 were positive, according to the latest statistics published by the European Commission’s statistical office, Eurostat. The Office is responsible for the keeping and publication of official consolidated asylum statistics across the European Union (EU).

Asylum seekers in the first half of 2020

Due to the suspension of the asylum procedure by way of emergency decree and the subsequent suspension of Asylum Service operations as part of Greece’s COVID-19 response, registrations of asylum claims went from 2,410 in March, to zero in April, 670 in May and 3,610 in June.

The main countries of origin of asylum seekers registered during the first six months of the year are as follows:

Asylum applicants: 1 January – 30 June 2020

Democratic Republic of Congo1,300

By way of comparison to the data on asylum seekers, during the same period (first half of 2020), the Reception Identification Service (RIS) registered a total of 7.762 new arrivals in reception and identification procedures.

According to Eurostat figures, the number of persons with pending asylum cases at all instances was 84,330 at the end of June 2020.

First instance asylum decisions: 1 January – 30 June 2020

Refugee statusSubsidiary protectionRejected & inadmissibleTotalRecognition rate

RSA highlights that, contrary to the data previously published by the Asylum Service, Eurostat statistics count inadmissibility decisions as negative decisions. This includes decisions dismissing applications on grounds such as the “safe third country” concept or subsequent claims without new elements.[1] As a result, the calculation of the rate of positive decisions based on Eurostat figures does not accurately represent the recognition rate of in-merit asylum authorities’ decision-making.

According to statistics released in a Ministry of Migration and Asylum information note, the percentage of “positive decisions” was at 44% in the first six months of 2020.[2] These numbers are contradicted by the official data provided by the Greek government to Eurostat, which point to a substantial rise of the first instance recognition rate to 69%.

Furthermore, the number of positive Asylum Service decisions significantly increased between the first and second quarter of 2020, particularly in relation to refugee status grants:

First instance asylum decisions: Comparison of Q1 and Q2 2020

Refugee statusSubsidiary protectionRejected & inadmissibleRecognition rate

A number of conclusions may be drawn from the above statistics:

  1. The majority of people seeking asylum are assessed by the authorities to be in need of international protection, with official data calling into question statements to the contrary.[3]
  2. Opposite trends in the first and the second instance procedure, bearing in mind the drop of the recognition rate before the Appeals Committee to 2.9% in the second quarter of 2020.
  3. Steady and significant increase in the population of beneficiaries of international protection in Greece, who face severe obstacles to access to rights due to the absence of a holistic plan to enable their integration in the country.
  4. Substantial discrepancies between the data presented by the Ministry information notes and reports to international organisations and EU statistics, which render the need to resume publication of detailed Asylum Service statistics all the more pressing.

For more information:


  1. However, according to its Technical Guidelines, Eurostat does not count Dublin decisions as negative decisions.
  2. Note that, according to the figures submitted by the government to the Council of Europe in the context of supervision of the M.S.S. and Rahimi cases, the rate of positive in-merit decisions in the first five months of 2020 was 53.15%, while there were 12,979 in-merit rejections and 2,967 inadmissibility decisions during the same period.
  3. See a recent interview of the Minister of Migration and Asylum, referring to a reduction of recognition rates to 40%.

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