The number of applications for asylum in the European Union fell to levels prior to the 2015 immigration crisis last year, according to the EU statistical office. The figures confirm a downward trend registered by the EU Border Guard and Coast Guard Service, Frontex, which estimated that some 150,000 people entered the EU through illegal transit points last year, the smallest number of the past five years, substantially lower than the one million or more recorded in 2015
In 2015, Europe witnessed the largest increase in post-World War II immigration due to the influx of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war and a significant increase in numbers from other regions of the Middle East and Africa that were plagued by conflicts and poverty. At the height of the crisis, the number of those who first applied for asylum in the EU exceeded 1.2 million
In 2018, however, the number of those who first applied for asylum was decreased to around 580,000, an 11% drop from 2017 and a return to pre-crisis levels in 2014, Eurostat said.
Germany remained the main destination of asylum seekers last year, followed by France, Greece, Spain, and Italy. Rome, where an anti-immigration coalition government is in power, recorded the largest drop in applications last year.
On the other hand, applications increased by 70% in Cyprus, which recorded the largest increase among the 28 EU Member States. Cyprus also had the largest number of applications in proportion to its population, followed by Greece and Malta.
The Syrians continue to be the largest number of asylum seekers, with more than half of them registered in Germany. Following are the Afghans and then the Iraqis, according to Eurostat data.