BRUSSELS (ANA/ M. Aroni) The number of new asylum applications submitted to Greece in 2017 jumped 14 pct from the previous year, making it the country that received the highest number of new applications relative to its population among EU countries for that year, Eurostat reported on Tuesday.

The number of new applications per million population in 2017 reached 5,295 in Greece, closely followed by Cyprus (5,235), with Luxembourg (3,931) and Malta (3,502) placing third and fourth. The lowest numbers were in Slovenia (27), Poland (79), Portugal (98) and the Czech Republic (108).

In absolute figures, the greatest number of new asylum applications during the year were made in Germany (198,300), representing 31 pct of the EU total, followed by Italy (126,000 or 20 pct), France (91,100 or 14 pct) and Greece (57,000 or 9 pct).

Overall, Eurostat reported, new asylum applications were reduced by about half in the EU in 2017, with 650,000 first-time asylum seekers applying for protection in EU states in the year, down from 1,206,500 asylum seekers in 2016. There were increases in the number of first-time asylum seekers in Spain (96 pct), France (19 pct), Greece (14 pct) and Italy (4 pct) but sharp drops in asylum-seekers applying in Germany (73 pct), Austria (44 pct), the Netherlands (17 pct) and the United Kingdom (15 pct).

Syrians still accounted for most asylum applications in Europe in 2017 (102,400), followed by Iraqis (47,500) and Afghans (43,600). In Greece, 29 pct of asylum seekers are Syrians, 15 pct are Pakistanis and 14 pct Iraqis.

The number of pending applications that were still being examined in 2017 had dropped to 927,300 from 1,094,100 in 2016. The largest number was in Germany (443,800 or 48 pct of the total), followed by Italy, Austria and Sweden.