There were a total of 2535 asylum applicants in Bulgaria in 2018, a decrease of 31 per cent compared with the previous year, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) said.
Of the asylum applicants in Bulgaria, the largest number were from Afghanistan, 43 per cent, EASO said.
Asylum applications in the EU+ decreased for the third consecutive year in 2018, returning to pre-crisis levels. Despite an increase in applications in the first five months of 2019, it remains too early to be indicative of a significant long-term shift in recent trends. The EU+ is composed of the 28 EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland.
As reported by EASO earlier in 2019, the 664 480 applications for international protectionin the EU+ in 2018 marked a decrease for the third consecutive year, this time by 10 per cent.
About nine per cent of these applications involved repeated applicants. While the number of applications remained remarkably stable throughout 2018, the relative stability at EU+ level conceals stark variation between member states and between individual citizenships, EASO said.
The total EU+ recognition rate in first instance in 2018 was 39 per cent, decreasing by seven percentage points over the previous year. Although fewer positive decisions were issued overall, a higher proportion of positive decisions granted refugee status (55 per cent of positive decisions).
Syria (13 per cent), Afghanistan and Iraq (sevem per cent each) were the three main countries of origin of applicants in the EU+ in 2018. The top 10 citizenships of origin also included Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey (4 per cent each), Venezuela, Albania and Georgia (three per cent each). In 2018, close to one fifth of all applications were lodged by nationals from countries exempt from visa requirements to enter the Schengen Area, including Venezuelans, Colombians, Albanians and Georgians.
With regard to receiving countries, in 2018, most applications for asylum were lodged in Germany, France, Greece, Italy, and Spain. Together, these five countries accounted for almost three quarters of all applications lodged in the EU+.
Germany received the most applications (184 180) for the seventh consecutive year, despite a 17 per cent decrease compared to 2017. Applications in France increased for the fourth consecutive year, reaching 120 425 in 2018, the highest level recorded in France to date. Greece became the country with the third-highest number of applications lodged in the EU+ in 2018, increasing for the fifth consecutive year, to 66 965 applications.
The top five receiving countries per capita were Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Sweden, and Luxembourg.
At the end of 2018, pending cases remained high, with approximately 896 560 applications awaiting a final decision in the EU+. This represented only a modest six per cent decrease compared to the end of 2017, EASO said.