In the first nine months of the year, significantly fewer migrants have come to Europe from Turkey by irregular means. That's according to a German media report that cites EU sources, which also revealed that Germany is no longer receiving the most asylum requests in Europe.
The number of irregular entries into the European Union from Turkey has dwindled, German daily Die Welt ("The World") reported on Tuesday (October 27), citing a confidential "situation report" of the European Commission and the European External Action Service.
According to Die Welt, the number of irregular entries from Turkey declined from 48,554 last year to 14,579 in the same period this year -- a drop of nearly 70%.
Of these entries, almost 12,000 people came to Greece, more than 2,300 to Italy, 35 to Bulgaria and close to 300 directly by boat to Cyprus.
On October 16, EU border and coast guard agency Frontex announced that the number of irregular border crossings at the EU's external borders "fell by 21% in the first nine months of this year to 72 500."
Spain overtakes Germany in asylum requests
According to Die Welt, the confidential report also showed that from January to September, more than 321,000 asylum applications were filed in the EU -- despite the coronavirus pandemic. Spain now tops the list with 72,500, followed by Germany (60,694), France (60,621) Greece (36,127) and Italy (16,051).
In 2016, Turkey and the EU struck a deal under which Turkey prevents irregular migration to the EU and receives financial support to provide for the refugees in return. Turkey currently hosts the largest number of refugees in the world with some 3.6 million from Syria alone.
At the end of February, a political crisis unfolded between the EU and Turkey when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey would not stop refugees "who want to go to Europe."
The situation on the Greek Aegean islands, meanwhile, remains tense. According to Die Welt, the document it cites also says that more than 21,000 people who came from Turkey are currently still on the Greek Aegean Islands. That's despite the government having brought more than 27,000 migrants to the mainland due to overcrowding in the island camps.
Under the EU-Turkey deal, Turkey is obliged to take those migrants back who have no chance of receiving asylum in the EU.