Migration and asylum

Due to the geopolitical situation in several of the EU’s neighbouring countries, the surge of asylum-seekers to the EU has increased exponentially over the past two years.

For this reason, asylum and migration have become the most urgent topics of discussion across the EU. The EU details some common standards in several regulations and directives. However, the concrete implementation of asylum and migration policy lies with the Member States, who must ensure that their national legislation is compliant with both EU law and international agreements.

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flows of migration


EU law does not allow for the regulated arrival of asylum-seekers, so their entry into EU territory is usually irregular due to a lack of necessary documentation and/or the use of unauthorised border-crossing points. Therefore, the figures for illegal border crossings are for mixed flows of both irregular immigrants and possible future asylum-seekers. These mixed flows pose a large challenge for border authorities: while asylum-seekers cannot be refused entrance into a Member State, irregular immigrants can and should be refused entry based on the Schengen Borders Code.

Frontex, the EU border surveillance agency, collects data concerning illegal crossings of the EU’s external borders from national border-control authorities.

External borders are those between Member States and third countries as well as between Schengen Associated Countries (Norway, Iceland and Switzerland) and third countries.


The main points of entry show the routes of illegal entries into the EU 2015. For each route, the point of entry shows the number of entries and the top three nationalities of migrants.

The bar chart shows illegal border crossings by third-country citizens via land and sea routes. In 2015 there was a six-fold increase in illegal border crossing in comparison with 2014 and a 17-fold increase compared to 2013, due to a large increase in sea border crossings by citizens of Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

In 1 000s
Land borders Sea borders

The maps shows the monthly average number of detections of illegal border crossings in the EU.

Frontex reports that 1.83 million irregular border crossings were detected at the EU’s external borders in 2015. Although not all of those arriving in the EU claim asylum, Eurostat annual data indicate that roughly 1.25 million people applied for asylum in 2015. However, this does not give an adequate overview of the people entering the EU irregularly without applying for asylum.

Frontex specifies that irregular border crossings may be attempted by the same person several times in different locations, which means that a large number of those who were counted when they arrived in Greece were counted again when entering the EU for the second time through Hungary or Croatia.


The map show the global flow.

Asylum applications

Asylum-seekers are not evenly spread throughout the EU, with some countries receiving a disproportionate amount of asylum applications. The eight Member States marked in the map have received 90% of the total requests for asylum for the first six months of 2015. The number of asylum applicants in the EU has more than doubled in the last two years.

In 1 000s

Rates of migration have changed over time. The map shows migration trends since 1998. Figures were collected on the basis of a gentlemen’s agreement until 2007 and in accordance with the Regulation on statistics on migration and international protection since 2008.

Migrants arrive in the EU Member States at the EU external borders. Under the Dublin Regulation, they should apply for asylum in the first EU country they enter, which is normally a Member State on the EU external borders. However, as the table shows, a large number of migrants travel to Germany or Sweden to seek asylum either because they have friends and family there or because they believe they would enjoy better living conditions in these countries.


The map shows the relative weight of the number of applicants per million inhabitants in the ‘country of arrival’ (the EU Member State in which asylum has been requested) for the period January to June 2015. The EU average is 823 applicants per million inhabitants.

Overall, the numbers of asylum-seekers from 13 of the top 15 countries of origin have increased in 2015 compared to the 2014 levels. The top 15 countries represent 82% of the total asylum seekers in 2015.

In 1 000s

The chart on the right hand side shows the number of asylum-seekers from the top 15 countries of origin for 2014 and 2015. The value in brackets represents changes in 2015 with respect to 2014; positive value shows an increase, negative a decrease (e.g. there was an increase of 246 000 applicants from Syria in 2015 compared to 2014). The numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand, thus sometimes there might be a difference between the numbers in brackets and the numbers on the bars.

Asylum decisions

First instance decisions refer to decisions taken by the Member States on refugee status, subsidiary protection and authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons.


The data bubbles display positive and negative decisions by Member States for 2015.

The number of asylum applicants and the number of first instance decisions during the same year differs due to the time elapsed between a request and the decision. This time varies considerably depending on asylum procedures and the administrative workload of Member States.


The data bubbles shows the aggregate of positive decisions for the EU 28 (no data is available for Austria for the year 2014). Red colors represent the positive decision in thousands while the bubbles give the percentage that the positive decisions represent in total decisions.


Western Africa


Côte d'Ivoire

Central Mediterranean

153 946


Circular route (Albania - Greece)

8 932

FYR of Macedonia

Eastern Mediterranean

885 386


Western Balkans

764 038

Not specified

Eastern Border

1 920


Western Mediterranean

7 164


Central Mediterranean

3 775
14 222
12 829
4 342

Eastern Mediterranean

2 067
4 236
73 782
61 439

Western Balkans

1 663
3 613
63 670
51 401


irregular border crossings
See the evolution of
the number of applicants


23 805

Applicants in Jul-Dec 2015.


43 600

Applicants in Jul-Dec 2015.


32 970

Applicants in Jul-Dec 2015.


294 730

Applicants in Jul-Dec 2015.


53 470

Applicants in Jul-Dec 2015.


59 850

Applicants in Jul-Dec 2015.


133 515

Applicants in Jul-Dec 2015.


110 345

Applicants in Jul-Dec 2015.
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in the EU

In the current EU asylum system, individual Member States are responsible for processing asylum applications. Through its Directives and Regulations, the EU has reinforced the standards and obligations for providing international protection, complying with the commitments taken by all EU Member States under the Refugee Convention.

The EU moved towards greater harmonisation of asylum rules in 2013 with the completion of the second phase of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).

CEAS is based on two aspects:

CEAS comprises five key acts

Dublin III Regulation

Dublin III Regulation establishes the criteria for determining which Member State is responsible for examining an application for international protection to avoid ‘refugees in orbit’ (asylum-seekers for which no Member State takes responsibility) and to prevent multiple asylum applications;

Qualification Directive

Qualification Directive clarifies the grounds on which international protection is granted to asylum-seekers;

Asylum Procedure Directive

Asylum Procedure Directive establishes common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, while strengthening the rights of asylum-seekers during the asylum procedure;

Reception Conditions Directive

Reception Conditions Directive ensures a common standard in Member States for asylum-seekers’ access to various services including healthcare, education and employment;

EURODAC Regulation

EURODAC Regulation facilitates the application of the Dublin Regulation by centralising fingerprint information from asylum-seekers and irregular immigrants in a single database in order to identify the point of entry or the first application made by a claimant.

160 000

people need to be relocated

The Dublin System states that, by default, the first Member State an asylum-seeker enters is responsible for examining his or her application for international protection.

This means that an asylum-seeker who moves to another Member State is automatically transferred back to the Member State of first entry. However, in accordance with judgements from the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU, asylum-seekers are not transferred to a Member State with systemic deficiencies in asylum procedures or in the reception conditions of asylum-seekers.

Unfortunately, certain Member States on the EU’s external borders, such as Greece, Italy, Malta and Hungary, are overburdened by asylum-seekers. This has led to both poor conditions for asylum-seekers (unjustified detentions, mistreatment, etc.) and to lower rates of asylum being granted.

An early warning mechanism was established to prevent pressure on the asylum systems of Member States experiencing difficulties coping with a surge of migrants.

As a consequence, many asylum-seekers travel to other countries, such as Germany or Sweden, where they believe they have a higher chance of a successful application and better reception conditions.

This second group of Member States often refrain from sending asylum-seekers back to their Member State of entry into the EU because of the worse reception conditions there, in practice turning the 'exception' provided for in the Dublin Regulation into a rule and, as a result, suspending the Dublin system altogether.

One growing issue is that of unaccompanied minors, one of the most vulnerable groups in the migration process.

This refers to minors who either arrive in the EU without an adult responsible or are left unaccompanied after they have entered EU territory. The Dublin Regulation includes an exception to the ‘first country’ rule in the case of unaccompanied minors, who should apply for asylum in the Member State where they have a family member. In the absence of any relative in the EU, the Member State where they have lodged an application is responsible, provided that it is in the best interest of the child.

Despite the progress of CEAS, many claim the structural problems that have led to an overburdening of some Member States, can only be tackled by greater EU support and solidarity from those less affected.

Under operational measures approved by the Council of Ministers in September 2015, a temporary emergency relocation programme was launched in October.

The programme aimed to relocate 160,000 people in clear need of international protection from Italy and Greece to other EU Member States. The idea behind the relocation was to alleviate the pressure experienced, particularly by Member States at the external EU borders, by relocating asylum-seekers to other Member States according to a distribution key taking into account GDP, unemployment rates, etc. By April 2016, only 1145 persons had actually been relocated and 7 out of 28 Member States had not made any places available for asylum-seekers regardless of the mandatory distribution key. Moreover, Slovakia and Hungary have turned to the Court of Justice of the European Union to challenge the validity of the relocation scheme. In light of the problems encountered with the emergency relocation mechanism, the Commission's proposal to establish a permanent relocation scheme is already meeting the resistance from some Member States.

Additionally, the Commission is discussing an EU-wide resettlement scheme to offer 20,000 places across all Member States, based on distribution criteria. Resettlement refers to refugees who are currently outside the EU. The places will be offered to people in need of international protection currently present in North Africa, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. This initiative has been called for by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

To achieve a comprehensive approach to migration in the future, policy and regulations need to strike the right balance between humanitarian aspects of asylum and migration on one hand and security and social cohesion concerns on the other. Furthermore, many call for the reasons that lead people to embark on dangerous journeys, such as poverty and insecurity in their countries of origin, to be addressed. A further obstacle is the public’s increasingly negative opinion of migration, partly as a consequence of the economic crisis in many Member States, as well as security threats such as terrorism and fear for an increase in crime.

These concerns were address in the European Agenda on Migration, presented in May 2015.


The agenda relies on:

  • Full and coherent implementation of the CEAS;
  • Fighting irregular immigration, with particular emphasis on actions against human smuggling and further development of readmission agreements with third countries. Currently the EU’s return policy depends on the will of the countries of origin and of transit to readmit migrants;
  • Securing the effective management of EU external borders, inter alia by strengthening Frontex’s operational capabilities and pooling more resources amongst Member States;
  • New EU policy of legal immigration.

Various proposals have been made to flesh out this collective responsibility:

  • An EU-wide asylum status and a centralised EU agency;
  • A system of collective responsibility with distribution of asylum-seekers between Member States;
  • Joint processing schemes across the EU.

The Commission has announced the revision of the Dublin system by Spring 2016. Among other aspects, it will probably replace the current ‘first country of entry’ rule by a ‘fair share’ principle.

The EU’s long-term goal is to develop a new policy on legal immigration, which should reduce the incentive to use irregular channels to reach Europe. This could be achieved, for instance, through reviewing the rules governing the entry of third-country workers, students and researchers; improving the recognition of qualifications; and through issuing humanitarian visas to people who would qualify as refugees once in the EU.

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asylum procedures
in the EU

Currently lists of safe countries are defined at national level and not coordinated, which can lead to different recognition rates of similar asylum applications and the incentive to apply for asylum in Member States with higher recognition rates.

The European Commission has proposed a common EU list of Safe Countries comprising Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. The proposal is currently discussed in the Council and the European Parliament.

EURODAC is a biometric database in which Member States are required to enter the fingerprint data of migrants in order to identify where they entered the EU, and whether they have previously made asylum applications. Its main purpose is to facilitate the application of the Dublin Regulation, which determines the Member State responsible for processing an asylum claim.

Fingerprinting is locally organised by the Member States and assistance is provided by EASO in hotspots.

In response to the increasing influx of migrants in Italy and Greece, the Commission has set up ‘hotspots’ to increase capacity to register and accommodate all arriving migrants. Migrants will then be channelled either to the asylum procedure or, if they are not applying for asylum or do not demonstrate sufficient grounds to require international protection, to pre-removal centres to wait for their return. The hotspot approach, aimed at easing the pressure at critical border sections, also tries to reduce secondary movement of migrants in the Schengen free movement area. This is all the more important considering that the annual assessment of the Schengen area functioning at the end of 2015 identified serious deficiencies in external border management by Greece.

The migration agenda includes a 'hotspot' approach which means identifying specific sections of the border that are characterised by disproportionate mixed migratory flows. The approach entails temporary intervention by EU agencies such as Frontex, EASO and Europol, to help national authorities guide asylum-seekers towards asylum procedures and irregular migrants towards return procedures. Eleven such hotspots have been established: 6 in Italy and 5 in Greece.

Guarantees established for asylum-seekers include:

  • A personal interview with each asylum-seeker;
  • The right to appeal against a negative decision;
  • Access to the labour market within nine months of the asylum application.

EU legislation also provides for common standards for reception conditions of asylum-seekers in the Member States. This includes housing, health care access and education for children. However, it should be noted that Member States decide on the exact assistance provided, so conditions vary considerably.

At present, the Dublin system is based on the principle of mutual recognition of negative asylum decisions.

A negative asylum decision means that if a person's claim for international protection has been rejected in one Member State, and he or she subsequently claims asylum in another Member State, the second Member State is entitled to decline to examine the application. This has led to asylum-seekers trying at any price to avoid being registered as an asylum-seeker in a Member State in which they do not want to stay, which often pushes them into hiding from the law and promotes criminality.

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asylum, migration, borders and the EU budget

EU Funding inside
the Union in 2014-2020

In the fields of migration, asylum and borders, the EU utilises funding tools to complement Member States’ efforts within the Union. The two main funding tools used to this effect are the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Borders and Visa strand of the Internal Security Fund (ISF). Both are part of what the EU spends on home affairs, which also includes the financing of relevant EU agencies, amounting to a total budget of €9.26 billion for the 2014-2020 period

In particular, AMIF has a budget of €3.14 billion, and ISF Borders and Visa has a budget of €2.76 billion, amounting to €5.9 billion in total.

To put these figures into perspective, the budget available for the previous period (2007-2013) under the predecessors of AMIF and ISF Border and Visa was €3.951 billion, which came from the following Funds:

  • European Refugee Fund (ERF) – €630 million;
  • Integration Fund – €825 million;
  • Return Fund – €676 million;
  • External Borders Fund (EBF) – €1.82 billion.

Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF)

The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) co-finances national and EU actions that aim at promoting the efficient management of migration flows, as well as the implementation, strengthening and development of a common EU approach to asylum and migration. The AMIF has four common specific objectives.

The common specific objectives of the AMIF are:

  • Strengthening and developing the establishment of the CEAS;
  • Supporting legal migration to the Member States in accordance with their economic and social needs and promoting the effective integration of third-country nationals;
  • Enhancing fair and effective return strategies with a view to countering illegal migration;
  • Increasing solidarity and responsibility-sharing between the Member States, with particular focus on those most affected by migration and asylum flows.

To achieve these objectives, the AMIF can co-finance actions not only in the participating Member States, but also in relation with third countries. Initiatives need to be coordinated, and consistent with the EU’s external action and the measures supported by related funding instruments.

AMIF funded measures for asylum-seekers and refugees within national programmes aim to ensure full and effective implementation of the CEAS. In the fields of legal migration and integration, initiatives seek to support national integration strategies of Member States, as well as their national legal migration strategies. As regards to irregular immigration and return, support can be given to voluntary return schemes, forced return operations, mechanisms for monitoring forced returns, investments in detention facilities and developing alternatives to detention.

Past projects financed by the EU in this area include: support and practical assistance to unaccompanied minors (Belgium); improvement of reception conditions (Estonia); and mental health services for asylum-seeking children who have been victims of torture (Finland).

The AMIF is implemented in different ways:

  • Shared management (Member States for national programmes);
  • Direct Management (European Commission for Union actions, emergency assistance, the European Migration Network and technical assistance);
  • Indirect management.

For the 2014-2020 period, around 88% of the AMIF resources are allocated to Member States that adopt multiannual national programmes and implement the Fund under shared management. The basic national allocations under the AMIF amount to €2.39 billion, while another €360 million has been earmarked for resettlement, relocation and specific actions. All Member States except Denmark participate in the Fund.

Each participating country has to devote at least a given share of the resources that it receives to certain objectives. For example, a minimum 20% of the basic allocation assigned, taking into account statistical data on migration flows, must be spent on actions aimed at strengthening and developing the CEAS.

Funding is distributed among participating countries taking into account the statistical data on migration flows.

The remainder of the Fund is implemented through direct management (European Commission) or, in some cases, indirect management (e.g. by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development or ICMPD) to support transnational actions or actions of particular interest to the EU (‘Union actions’), emergency assistance, technical assistance and the European Migration Network, which the Council established in 2008 with the task of providing reliable and comparable information on migration and asylum topics.

Examples of proposals that have been awarded emergency assistance in recent years include: establishment of an emergency day accommodation centre for irregular migrants in Calais, France (with the EU contribution amounting to €3.78 million); consolidation of reception capacities in respect of migratory flows reaching strategic border points on Italian territory (€1.71 million); capacity-building of asylum reception and human resources aiming to respond effectively to migration pressure in Hungary (€1.25 million); and addressing needs related to the mass arrival in Cyprus of third country nationals who may be in need of international protection (€0.97 million).

Internal Security Fund (ISF) Borders and Visa

The main objective of the Internal Security Fund (ISF) Borders and Visa is to contribute to ensuring a high level of security in the Union by supporting measures that promote a uniform and high level of control and protection of external borders, as well as the effective processing of Schengen visas. The two specific objectives of the instrument, which are both related to facilitating legitimate travel and tackling illegal immigration, are:


Process Schengen visas effectively by supporting a common visa policy. This aims to facilitate legitimate travel to the EU, provide a high quality of service to visa applicants, ensure equal treatment of non-EU nationals and tackle irregular immigration;


Achieve a uniform and high level of control and protection of external borders by supporting integrated border management, harmonising border management measures within the Union and sharing information among Member States, as well as between Member States and Frontex.

The ISF has a budget of €3.76 billion for the period 2014-20. From this, €2.76 billion has been allocated for ISF Borders and Visa, with the remainder going to ISF Police.

The ISF fund can be used for a wide range of initiatives, including setting up and running IT systems, acquiring operational equipment, promoting and developing training schemes and ensuring administrative and operational coordination and cooperation.

Among past national projects supported by the EU in this policy area, examples range from the purchase of helicopters to strengthen border surveillance (Cyprus) and equipment to identify false documents (Malta), to training for Border Guard aviation employees (Poland).

From the ISF Borders and Visa budget, 62% of the resources is channeled through shared management (Member States). In particular, basic national allocations amount to €1.27 billion, while €147 million is earmarked for specific actions and another €128 million will be distributed between Member States as of 2018, following the mid-term review of the ISF. An additional €154 million is reserved for the Special Transit Scheme that applies to Lithuania.

Specific actions deal with the establishment of consular cooperation mechanisms between at least two Member States as well as the purchase of means of transport and operating equipment for joint operations by the Frontex Agency.

All Member States except Ireland and the United Kingdom participate in the implementation of the ISF Borders and Visa instrument. The four Schengen Associated Countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) also participate in the ISF Borders and Visa instrument.

Examples of beneficiaries of the programmes implemented under this Fund can be state and federal authorities, local public bodies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), humanitarian organisations, private and public law companies and education and research organisations.

Each participating country implements the ISF Borders and Visa under a national programme, which has to be in line with the instrument’s goals and allocates a minimum share of the available resources to given objectives.

Following the findings and recommendations of a Schengen evaluation report in the context of the Schengen monitoring mechanism, a Member State may be required to modify its national programme with a view to addressing the identified weaknesses and prioritising ISF funding for the related corrective measures.

The remaining €1.06 billion (or 38% of ISF Borders and Visa) is, in principle, implemented through direct management by the European Commission or indirect management (for example by EU decentralised agencies).

Of this amount, €264 million goes to a mechanism to provide emergency assistance in response to crises, to 'Union Actions', which are specific cross-border or innovative measures of interest that benefit the entire EU, as well as to technical assistance provided at the initiative of the Commission.

Examples of use of the ISF emergency funding include the acquisition of 90 fingerprinting devices (€1.36 million) to be installed at border crossings across Greece for the identification and registration of migrants in the framework of the central EURODAC system. The November 2015 allocation of ISF emergency resources to Croatia and Slovenia (respectively €3.99 million and €4.92 million) aimed to help both countries to manage high migratory flows, with financed measures including increased presence of police staff at borders and the accommodation costs of officers deployed from other Member States.

Finally, the other €791 million, which is almost 30% of the ISF Borders and Visa total resources, has been earmarked for the development of existing or new IT systems aimed at supporting the management of migration flows across the external borders, allowing national authorities to cooperate in this area by sharing relevant information.

Two tools currently playing a key role in information sharing between Schengen States in the area of borders and visa are: the Schengen Information System (SIS), which provides alerts and information on suspected criminals, on people who may not be entitled to enter into or stay in the EU, on missing persons and on stolen or lost property; and the Visa Information System (VIS), which deals with data on visa application and decisions.

ISF Police

ISF Police, the other component of ISF, has resources of €1 billion for the 2014-2020 period. It focuses on police cooperation, preventing and combatting crime, and crisis management.


In addition, the EU has six decentralised agencies in the area of home affairs, which are endowed with resources of €2.36 billion under the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU.

Of these, the agencies working mainly in the fields of borders, visa or migration are: FRONTEX, the Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders located in Warsaw; EASO, the European Asylum Support Office based in Valletta; and eu-LISA, the Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice, which is located in Tallinn and Strasbourg.


EU funding outside
the Union in 2015-2016

To respond to the refugee crisis, the European Parliament and Council have mobilised additional resources for 2015-2016, bringing the amount allocated by the EU to the crisis and external borders in 2015 and 2016 to €10.1 billion, up from an initial allocation of €4.6 billion. This has been achieved not only by strengthening the AMIF and the ISF (total EU funding inside the Union now amounts to €3.9 billion for 2015-2016); but also by reinforcing existing instruments for external action as well as creating new ones (total EU funding outside the Union now amounts to €6.2 billion over the same period).

Increased EU resources for the refugee crisis are providing support for a number of measures inside and outside the EU.

Examples of measures include:

  • Additional emergency assistance for the most affected Member States;
  • Increased resources for relevant EU agencies (Frontex, EASO and Europol);
  • Restored funding for food aid via the World Food Programme to 2014 levels;
  • Increased humanitarian aid with more support for Syrian refugees;
  • Further assistance for refugees and their host communities in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

EU Trust Funds

EU Trust Funds are an example of new instruments for external action that are being used to finance the EU’s response to migration. In particular, two Trust Funds are applicable for migration-related projects: the Madad Trust Fund and the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.

The Madad Fund, which has a €500 million contribution from the EU budget, was established to respond to the Syrian crisis and channel aid for Syria’s neighbouring countries. This Trust Fund was developed to allow the EU and the Member States to intervene jointly to help refugees and their host communities in a manner that treats the refugee crisis as a regional crisis and permits action on a regional scale. Projects focus on education, food security and livelihoods, with almost half of the funds financing action in Turkey.

And the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa addresses the root causes of irregular immigration and displaced persons in Africa. With €1.8 billion contributions from the European Development Fund and the EU budget, this trust fund targets 23 countries in the Sahel and the Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa and North Africa. Its objective is to improve living conditions and encourage people to stay in their countries of origin, rather than undertake the perilous journey to Europe and an uncertain future. High on the agenda are improvements in stability and security in the countries concerned, better governance, economic development, food security and the delivery of basic services.

For the time being, the bulk of funding for these two Trust Funds has come from the EU budget and the European Development Fund. By comparison, Member State contributions to date have been relatively low. The EU aims to increase the amounts in the Madad Fund and the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa to €1 billion and €3.6 billion, respectively.

Facility for Refugees in Turkey

In November 2015, the EU announced the establishment of a Facility for Refugees in Turkey, a joint coordination mechanism for actions financed by the EU budget and national contributions made by the Member States. Its total budget amounts to €3 billion, of which €1 billion comes from EU resources and the remainder from national contributions.

The aim of the Facility is to deliver efficient and complementary support to Syrian refugees and host communities in Turkey. Priority will be given to actions that provide immediate humanitarian, development and other assistance to refugees and host communities, national and local authorities in managing and addressing the consequences of the inflows of refugees.

Other funding outside the EU

In 2015-2016, other EU funding to address the refugee crisis outside the Union amounts to €2.9 billion. The bulk of this goes to humanitarian aid (€2.15 billion), while other resources are earmarked for: security and border control (€300 million); counter-terrorism (€100 million); return of refugees and displaced persons (€280 million); and education and health (€70 million).



The situation remains complex. On one hand, the EU and its Member States are obligated under international law and EU Treaties to offer protection to asylum-seekers. But on the other hand, there are obligations under the same EU Treaties to guarantee the security and social cohesion of Member States’ societies. While the EU is helping Member States to deal with the refugee crisis, diverging national interests have, until now, prevented further common decisions in this field.

To remain up to date with the EU’s response to migration, regularly visit the European Parliament’s blog. Or send us an email on eprs@ep.europa.eu.

blog Think Tank @EP_Thinktank    



An asylum-seeker is a person requesting international protection due to the risk of persecution in his or her home country. To qualify as a refugee, an asylum-seeker needs to present evidence for evaluation.


A person who has been recognised as being in need of international protection. According to the Geneva Refugee Convention, a refugee is a person who ‘owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country’.

Beneficiary of subsidiary protection

A beneficiary of subsidiary protection is a person who does not qualify as a refugee under the Geneva Refugee Convention, but would be in danger if returned to his or her home country.

Irregular immigrant

An irregular immigrant is a person from a third-country (non-EU country) who does not fulfil, or no longer fulfils, the conditions of entry as set out in the Schengen Borders Code or other conditions for entry, stay or residence in a Member State.

Legally residing immigrant

A legal immigrant is a person from a third-country (non-EU country) that is legally residing in an EU Member State for purposes of work (Blue Card Directive, the Intra-corporate Transfer Directive), study (Students Directive, Scientific Research Directive), or family reunification (Family Reunification Directive).


People migrating to the EU are categorised as either: an asylum-seeker, a refugee, a beneficiary of subsidiary protection, an irregular immigrant or a legal immigrant.

Member States

EU Member States have an obligation to secure the external EU borders in their territory. They provide data and resources to relevant EU Agencies, including Frontex, to facilitate coordination between Member States. The implementing authorities are relevant bodies in the Member States, with coordination and support provided by the EU border agency, Frontex. Although Frontex currently pools national resources, the creation of a European Border and Coast Guard System is being discussed.

Member States are also responsible for processing asylum applications.


Frontex is the Agency which helps Member States that are facing strong migratory pressure to secure the EU’s external borders, through coordinating deployment of equipment and border guards made available by Member States.

The Agency’s goal is to help secure the EU’s external borders, in an effort to fight against irregular immigration, people-trafficking and terrorist infiltration. It coordinates joint operations of the EU Member States at the EU’s land, sea and air borders.

Frontex can create European Border Guard Teams (EBGT) for deployment in joint operations and rapid border interventions.

European Asylum Support Office (EASO)

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) provides support to Member States experiencing an influx of asylum applications, this includes assistance with implementing EU legislation in the field, for instance by preparing case files for asylum applicants in overburdened entry points. However, national authorities process asylum applications.