By Tuba Sahin
The number of first-time asylum seekers applying for international protection in the EU slipped to 650,000 last year, according to Eurostat on Tuesday.
"This was just over half the number recorded in 2016, when 1.2 million first-time asylum applicants were registered, and is comparable to the level recorded in 2014, before the peaks of 2015 and 2016," the statistical office said.
Syrians (102,400), Iraqis (47,500) and Afghans (43,600) constituted 30 percent of all first-time asylum applications in EU last year.
"The main contributions to the decrease were lower numbers of applicants from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq," it said.
The data showed that the highest number of applications were received by Germany (198,300), which accounted for 31 percent of the total in the bloc.
It was followed by Italy (126,600 or 20 percent) and France (91,100 or 14 percent).
Eurostat also noted that more than four in five -- 82 percent -- of first-time asylum seekers in the EU in 2017 were less than 35-years-old.
"At the end of 2017, 927,300 applications for international protection in the EU member states were still under consideration by national authorities," it added.