EU: 650,000 people applied for asylum in 2017, half of 2015 record

Luxembourg - Just under 650,000 people sought asylum in the European Union in 2017, an almost 50-per-cent decrease from the peak of 1.26 million asylum seekers recorded in 2015, the EU's statistical office says.

The 2017 figure, which denotes first-time applicants, includes more than 100,000 Syrians, 47,500 Iraqis and 43,600 Afghans, Eurostat said.

About 30 per cent of the people applied for asylum in Germany, followed by Italy (20 per cent), France (14 per cent) and Greece (9 per cent).

Just more than 30,000 asylum applications were handed in in Spain in 2017, a 96-per-cent increase over the figure in 2016. In contrast, the number of applications fell in Germany by 73 per cent compared to 2016.

Eurostat also noted that close to 1 million asylum applications were pending at the end of 2017, with Germany accounting for 48 per cent of the total figure.