Minister praises ‘low’ number of Denmark asylum applications in 2021

A total of 2,095 applications for asylum were registered by Denmark in 2021, less than 10 percent of the number who came to the country for protection in 2015.

Immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye said he was pleased to see asylum applications in Denmark remain low in 2021.
Immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye said he was pleased to see asylum applications in Denmark remain low in 2021. File photo: Ólafur Steinar Rye Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

The number represents an increase compared to 2020, when the Covid-19 crisis most severely impacted international travel and migration. 1,515 people applied for asylum in Denmark in 2020.

Both the 2020 and 2021 figures are less than one tenth of the number recorded in 2015, when 21,316 people applied for asylum in Denmark at the peak of the European migration crisis.

The new data was released by the Ministry of Immigration and Integration.

Among the 2,095 asylum seekers in 2021 are 430 Afghans who were evacuated as the Taliban gained control of Kabul in August last year.

The definitions used to record total asylum seeker numbers go back to 1998. The 2021 figures are still preliminary.

Around 12,000 people applied for asylum in Denmark in the years 1999-2002 before the total dropped, ranging between 2,000 and 6,000 annually until 2012. It then increased, partly due to the conflict in Syria and was 14,792 in 2014 and 21,316 the following year, the highest on record.

Since 2017, the annual total of asylum applications has not exceeded 4,000.

“I’m pleased we still have low asylum numbers here. A serious of clever decisions have been made which have continually ensured better control of immigration,” immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye said in a ministry statement.

Earlier in January, Tesfaye was on the sharp end of criticism from MEPs – some from European equivalents of his own Social Democratic party – over the Danish government’s policy of sending some Syrian refugees back to the Damascus region.

In mid-2020, Denmark became the first European Union country to re-examine the cases of about 500 Syrians from Damascus, which is under the control of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, claiming “the current situation in Damascus is no longer such as to justify a residence permit or the extension of a residence permit”. 

Despite a wave of Danish and international criticism, including from experts used by the government, Tesfaye’s ministry has refused to budge over the policy.

Some members of the LIBE committee argues that Denmark was displaying a lack of solidarity with other EU countries because refugees in Denmark were more likely to apply for asylum elsewhere in the EU than risk return to Syria.

He received support from other MEPs during the hearing, notably Peter Kofod of the far-right Danish People’s Party and national conservative Italian MEP Nicola Procaccini.

READ ALSO: EU politicians criticise Denmark over return policy for Syrian refugees

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Danish businesses praise record immigration in first quarter of 2023

More people moved to Denmark in the first quarter of 2023 than in any previous three-month period.

Danish businesses praise record immigration in first quarter of 2023

A record number of people immigrated to Denmark in the first three months of this year, according to Statistics Denmark figures reported by newspaper Berlingske.

Some 21,986 people moved to the country in the first quarter, while 11,506 left Denmark.

Businesses in Denmark have sought to attract foreign labour in recent times to fill vacancies.


The high figure for immigration was described as “super positive” by SMVdanmark, an interest organisation for small and medium sized companies.

“It makes it possible for businesses to take advantage of momentum in the economy, it pushes inflation down and it boosts public finances in times with hard demographic headwinds,” SMVdamark senior economist Thomas Gress told Berlingske.

Gress also said that Danish businesses are good at recruiting international labour and have had good experiences with it.

Successful relocations to Denmark for work purposes can offer an additional boost if immigrants report successful experiences back to their home countries, he added.

Over half of migrations to Denmark come from Western countries, according to Berlingske.

Countries defined as “Western”, along with the Balkans region and Ukraine, which are not included in that category, represent two thirds of the total number of immigrants for the quarter.