All the arguments around the debate on the right of asylum during the recent years are based on the idea that the asylum seekers are those crossing the Mediterranean Sea or the land border with Turkey, basically that they are coming from Africa and Asia.

In fact, among those who applied for asylum in the EU countries last year, there are almost 100,000 European citizens: Albanians, Turks, Russians, Georgians, Ukrainians, Armenians and others.

These asylum applications usually avoid the public attention and political forces, perhaps because many of the candidates are minors, but also because they are perceived as Europeans and thus they present lesser threat to Europe’s’ identity than the migrants coming from Africa.

France was one of the few exceptions, since the Albanians formed the highest number of asylum seekers in the country last year, a circumstance that forced the press and politicians to notice this trend.

In fact, Albanians represent a significant proportion of Europeans seeking asylum in EU: in 2017 around 22 000 Albanians have sought refuge – the biggest number in comparison with all other nationalities, whether in absolute value or in proportion to the population (almost 1 percent of Albanian citizens have requested asylum in the EU last year).

The majority of European citizens seeking asylum within the European Union are doing so in Germany or France. In recent years, however, both sides have adopted an ever stricter policy as a result of an increase in the number of applications received (from Europeans as well) in 2015.

This has led to the categorising of more states of origin in the list of “safe countries”, rapid assessment procedures with very low levels of reception, forced repatriation, agreements with Member States to end the migrant flow and threats of the re-introduction of visas into the Schengen area.

Even if authorities tend to consider Europeans’ asylum applications as “unfounded”, the figures speak for themselves.

In 2017, EU countries accepted about 18 percent of applications, while five years earlier they gave asylum to only 8 per cent of the candidates. The lower degree of rejection is certainly not due to greater generosity by governments, but to an objective assessment of living conditions in individual European countries.