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EU raises the alarm on soaring asylum requests from 'safe' countries

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The European Union is becoming increasingly worried about the surging number of requests lodged by asylum seekers who are, in principle, ineligible for international protection, such as nationals from India, Bangladesh, Morocco, Egypt and Peru.The European Commission estimates the number of asylum applications reached 924,000 by the end of 2022 – the highest level since 2016 – while irregular border crossings tripled year-on-year to 330,000.Notably, the asylum requests included citizens from countries considered official candidates to join the bloc, like Turkey, Albania, North Macedonia and Moldova.The growing concern among member states came to the fore during a two-day informal meeting of interior ministers that took place in Stockholm this week."We have three times more asylum applications than irregular arrivals and these are overloading the reception capacities," Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for home affairs, said on Thursday."Many of these are not in need of international protection."Johansson said over 60% of these requests are bound to end with a "negative" decision, that is a rejection of asylum and an order to leave EU territory.About 850,000 demands, including first-time requests and appeals, are still pending a final decision.The bloc is struggling to send ineligible applicants back to their transit or home countries, with a return rate of 21% of all irregular migrants registered in 2022.Interior ministers want to increase this rate as soon as possible and are considering ways to make full use of Article 25a of the EU's Visa Code, which can slap restrictive measures on non-EU countries that refuse to cooperate on readmissions."Effective returns is one of the most effective incentives to prevent the

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