Spain has EU’s lowest asylum claim acceptance rate, approving just 12%

<p><em>(Anadolu photo)</em></p>

(Anadolu photo)

OVIEDO, Spain – Spain had the lowest asylum acceptance rate in the EU in 2023, according to a report released on Monday by the Spanish Commission for Refugee Assistance (CEAR).

The Spanish refugee rights group found that Spain approved just 12 percent of asylum claims last year, far below the EU average of 42 percent.

The annual report also revealed that Spain received the third-highest number of claims among EU countries. With 163,220 new requests, it was the most popular only after Germany with 351,510 requests and France with 166,880.

One of the reasons for Spain's low approval rate is that 47 percent of requests were granted temporary protection for humanitarian reasons. Almost all of this protection was granted to Venezuelans.

At the same time, around one in four applicants were refused any form of protection.

CEAR denounced that Spain continues to systematically deny most asylum claims from countries like Colombia, Peru and Senegal.

Another problem the organization found in Spain’s asylum system is a growing backlog of claims. By the end of the year, 191,095 claims were still waiting to be resolved — up 56 percent from 2022.

It also denounces the difficulty of even filing asylum claims in Spain in the first place.

“Difficulties in obtaining appointments to initiate the procedures together with limitations on the length of stay in humanitarian care places, leave some people unprotected and at risk of social exclusion,” CEAR head Monica Lopez said in a statement.

Last year, Spain saw a dramatic increase in irregular migrants reaching the Canary Islands by small boats. This year has seen even more arrivals.

While CEAR praised the Spanish and Canary Islands governments for improving the situation compared to 2022, it urges Spain to adopt a more stable structure for receiving irregular arrivals.

The organization also warned about the “devastating consequences” of the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum. 

CEAR said the new strategy focuses on stopping people from arriving and deporting them as soon as possible without offering enough safe and legal means to claim refugee status.

“The results of the European elections are worrying because they strengthen the parties that are seriously threatening the right to asylum. We hope that Spain will push forward a change so that people and their rights are at the center,” said CEAR Director Mauricio Valiente. (Anadolu)