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Snapshot of migration, asylum and free movement in the EU

The European Commission has published a Report on the 2011 developments in the areas of immigration and asylum, accompanied by a Eurobarometer on European citizens’ attitudes towards cross-border mobility, migration and security.

According to the survey, eight out of ten Europeans agree that EU Member States should offer protection and asylum to those in need and that rules for admitting asylum seekers should be the same across the EU. A large majority of Europeans (67%) think it is important to be able to travel within the EU without internal border controls.

Highlights of the report and of the Eurobarometer (EB) include:

Legal migration

  • REPORT: There are some 20.2 million third-country nationals in the EU, around 4% of the total EU population (502.5 million) and 9.4% of the estimated 214 million migrants worldwide.
  • EB: 68% of the poll thinks that legal immigrants should have the same rights as their own national citizens. Four in ten Europeans (42%) think the EU should encourage labour migration from non EU countries to help tackle demographic challenges and labour shortages, with 46% disagreeing.

Irregular migration

  • REPORT: In 2011, some 343 000 persons were refused entry to the EU, a decrease of 13% from 2010. Also in 2011, some 468 500 persons were apprehended (a decrease from 2010 when it was about 505 000) and Member States returned around 190 000 third-country nationals (15% less than in 2010).
  • EB: Eight Europeans in ten (80%) think that the EU should increase its assistance to Member States to handle irregular migration. 78% think that the cost of handling irregular migration should be shared among EU Member States.


  • REPORT: In 2011 EU Member States recorded just over 302 000 asylum applications, a significant increase of 16.2% compared to 2010. This remains however far below the peak of 425 000 applications received in 2001.
  • EB: 80% of the poll thinks that EU Member States should offer protection and asylum to those in need. Eight Europeans in ten think that the number of asylum seekers should be more equally shared among EU Member States.


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