A total 42,305 refugees coming from Turkey to Greece applied for refugee status in Europe in 2017, according to the European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON).
According to ESPON data, 204,718 refugees entered the European Union from other parts of the world last year. Of that number, a total of 42,305 asylum seekers crossed to Greece from Turkey and 118,962 people crossed the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy.
In comparison to recent years, this was a great decrease from previous numbers. In 2015 alone, at the culmination of the refugee crisis, 1.3 million asylum applications were submitted to the EU, chiefly from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syrian nationals. The number of arrivals fell sharply in 2016, mainly due to the EU — Turkey agreement which has limited the flow of migrants through the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Balkans.
However, as the ESPON survey points out, southern European member states are now the most common entry points for refugees who cross the Balkans and attempt to settle in more affluent countries such as Austria, Germany, Sweden and France.
The origin of asylum seekers varies greatly from country to country. Most of the first-time asylum seekers in Greece come from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Of these four countries, Syria accounted for 28 percent of first-time asylum applicants in 2017.
The “less attractive areas” for refugees according to ESPON are Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
ESPON is a European project based in Luxembourg. It involves 30 countries and aims to promote and strengthen territorial cooperation in Europe through studies and maps that it publishes on a regular basis in order to assist in government decision-making. Its objective is to support the work of the European Commission, the Committee of the Regions, and other European authorities.