EMN Policy brief on migrants’ movements through the Mediterranean, December 2017
The EMN published the first version of this Policy Brief in December 2015 when European countries
around the Mediterranean were facing a significant influx of persons. Large numbers of asylum seekers,
migrants and displaced persons arrived by sea and land at the external borders of the European Union
(EU) across the main entry routes such the Mediterranean Sea and Western Balkans. That first report
was produced at the peak of the migration crisis. Since then there have been significant new policies and
operational interventions and patterns of migration have changed considerably and it was therefore
decided to update this brief to present trends in asylum applications and irregular movements of non-EU
migrants across the EU and Norway over the last few years.
This report focuses on the period 2012-2016 and – where data is available – up to August 2017 to
identify patterns in migratory flows and provide a snapshot of these movements across the years. The
Brief draws on the latest Eurostat data as reported by (Member) States as well as Frontex data on the
number of detections recorded at the external borders of the EU. The report outlines the key routes of
travel to the EU and the (Member) States where many subsequently claimed asylum and received their
final decision. The data does not capture the movements of migrants once they have claimed asylum, nor
those migrants entering the EU and Norway not detected upon entry or who do not subsequently claim
The Brief concentrates on the Mediterranean Member States (CY, EL, ES, FR, HR, IT, MT and SI) as well
as non-Mediterranean Member States (AT, BE, DE, HU, NL, SE and UK) that received over 100,000
asylum applications since 2012. The Brief additionally focuses on asylum applicants coming from Syria,
Afghanistan and Iraq since these three third countries represented over 50% of all asylum applications
submitted in the EU between 2015 and 2016. Along with Eritrea, Iran, Somalia and the Sudan these are
also those countries from which the majority of applicants received a positive decision on their application
for asylum in these years.
Some of the information extracted from Eurostat, such as the data on secondary movements and the
latest data from 2017, should be treated as indicative and may be subject to future adjustments.
Nevertheless, this Brief provides a comprehensive picture of the evolution of irregular migration in the EU
and Norway across the analysed period.
This executive summary highlights the main findings, which are subsequently explained in more depth in
the six sections of this report which were drafted with the contribution of the European Migration Network
(EMN) National Contact Points of France and United Kingdom.
Report is available here.