The ISMU Report on Migrations in Italy 2022
22 March 2023
The Twenty-eighth Italian Report on Migrations 2022
20 June 2023

Temporary protection in the EU: over 384,000 permits issued in 2022

Press release

Temporary protection in the EU: over 384,000 permits (+40%) and 4 million permits for Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war issued in 2022

Milan 19 June 2023. On World Refugee Day (20th June), the ISMU ETS Foundation highlights that in 2022, according to Eurostat data, EU countries granted protection to 384,245[1] asylum seekers, a 40% increase compared to 2021. More specifically, 44% received refugee status, 31% subsidiary protection and 25% humanitarian protection (that also includes special protection [2]). Compared to 2021, authorities made greater use of these forms of protection (+22% for refugee status and +48% for subsidiary protection) with the highest increase recorded for humanitarian protection (+72%).

Germany is the EU member state that issued the highest number of protection permits, (160,000, 41% of the total number of permits across the EU) followed by France (50,000, 13%), Italy (40,000, 10%) and Spain (36,000, 9%). Together, these four countries accounted for 73% of applications in the EU.

In addition to the 384,245 permits granted in the EU in 2022, over 4 million temporary protection permits were issued to Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war. Among EU countries, Poland has registered the highest number of Ukrainian refugees (1,561,700) followed by Germany (777,000) and the Czech Republic (458,000). Italy, that places fifth, granted 150,000 permits in 2022.

International protection in Italy and the EU between 2012 and 2022. Data from the past ten years (2012-2022) shows that the number of positive decisions in Italy has fluctuated, with high peaks mainly due to crises in asylum seekers’ countries of origins (80% in 2012, primarily humanitarian permits following the Arab Spring in North Africa, or 60% in 2013-2014 as a result of the crises in Syria and Eritrea). In this sense, more positive decisions have been issued in Italy compared to the EU average (30-40%). On the other hand, between 2015 and 2020, more positive decisions were recorded in the EU than in Italy. This was particularly evident in 2016 (54% vs 40%), mainly due to asylum applications in the EU being filed by Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis – all nationalities with the highest recognition rates – while applications in Italy predominantly came from African and Asian citizens with lower recognition rates (Tunisians, Egyptians, Bangladeshis, Moroccans).

Syrians were the largest national group to obtain any form of protection in the EU in 2022, followed by Afghans, Venezuelans and Iraqis. In Italy the largest groups were Pakistanis, Afghans and Bangladeshis.

Graph 1. Number of positive asylum decisions in Italy and in the EU (%). Years 2012-2022

Source: ISMU elaboration of EUROSTAT data (2023)

Among the types of protection granted in Italy, humanitarian protection always prevailed (accounting for up to two thirds of all positive decisions) until 2018 and, after a short drop in 2019 due to regulatory limitations partially overcome in 2020, has now returned as “special protection” and has a significant weight (55% of the positive outcomes in 2022).

Graph 2. Number of positive asylum decisions [3] by type of protection in Italy (%). Years 2012-2022

Source: ISMU elaboration of EUROSTAT data (2023)

By contrast, the refugee status – that usually leads to the highest recognition of protection – has always had a lower incidence among all the positive decisions (20% on average in the 10 years considered, 21% in 2022) unlike in the EU (50% on average, 44% in 2022). This is largely due to the nationality of the asylum seekers leading to very different recognition rates. Indeed, although the number of Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Egyptians, Tunisians and Nigerians among asylum seekers in Italy is very high, their chance to obtain international protection is usually lower than among nationalities that are more represented in other EU countries, such as Syrians, Afghans, Colombians and Venezuelans. Considering the two main forms of protection – refugee status and subsidiary protection – the nationalities that were most granted refugee status in Italy in 2022 were Afghans (75%), Somalis (42%), Iraqis (27%) and Salvadorians (24%), while the most represented groups in EU countries were Turks (91%), Eritreans (80%), citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (75%), Guineans (70%) and Ivorians (67%).

Among the EU countries where the subsidiary protection (generally granted to those coming from countries at war) has prevailed, this form of protection most used for Ukrainians (94% of the total positive outcomes), Syrians (63%) and Malians (79%). In the case of Venezuelans, who found protection mainly in Spain, the number of permits for humanitarian reasons has been high but is foreseen only in some national legislations.

In Italy, subsidiary protection mainly concerned Ukrainians, Venezuelans, Malians and Iraqis.

Table 1. Number of positive asylum decisions; % of Refugee status and Subsidiary protection granted in Italy
and in the EU by nationality. Year 2022

Rejections in Italy and in the EU. Overall, in 2022 authorities in the EU issued 632,360 first-instance decisions (of which 310,400 with positive outcome) and 218,260 final decisions following an appeal or review (of which 73,845 with positive outcome). Rejections were respectively 322,110 and 144,480. In total, over 850,000 applications were examined in the EU. Authorities rejected 54.8% applications and accepted the remaining 45.2%.

In Italy, 72,395 applications were examined (53,000 in first instance and nearly 20,000 following an appeal or review) in 2022. Out of these applications, 32,745 were rejected (45.2%) with a lower incidence than in the EU. Historically, rejections in Italy were higher than in the EU between 2015 and 2020 (60% on average).

Graph 3. Positive asylum decisions and rejections in Italy (%). Years 2012-2022

Source: ISMU elaboration of EUROSTAT data (2023)

Citizens receiving the highest share of rejections were Egyptians (88%), Tunisians (75%), Bangladeshis (69%), Moroccans (60%) and Pakistanis (58%).

Graph 4. Positive asylum decisions and rejections by nationalities in Italy. Years 2012-2022

Source: ISMU elaboration of EUROSTAT data (2023)

Asylum applications in Italy: in the first quarter of 2023 applications increased by 72% compared to the first quarter of 2022. The first three months of 2023 marked an increase in the asylum applications by third-country nationals in Italy. Between January and March over 31,000 people applied for international protection, 72% more than in the first quarter of 2022. The most represented nationalities were Bangladeshis (18%), Pakistanis (16%) and Egyptians (15%).


[1] It should be noted that the figure does not include temporary protection permits issued to Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war who, following a different procedure, are counted separately.
[2] Please note Eurostat statistics on permits are based on three statuses: refugee status, subsidiary protection and humanitarian protection (this latter also includes special protection).
[3] See note 2.

Francesca Serva// Ufficio stampa ISMU// Via Copernico, 1 – 20125 Milano// 335.5395695//

Follow us
FACEBOOK  @fondazioneismu  –  TWITTER  @Fondazione_Ismu – LinkedIn: Fondazione ISMU (Iniziative e Studi sulla Multietnicità)