Aims: Rhythm control management in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) may be unequal across Europe. The aim of this study was to investigate how selective the patient cohort referred for AF ablation is, as compared to the general AF population in Europe, and to describe the governing mechanisms for such selection. Methods and results: Descriptive comparative statistical analyses of the baseline characteristics were performed between the cohorts of Atrial Fibrillation Ablation Long-Term (ESC EORP AFA-LT) registry, designed to provide a picture of contemporary real-world AF ablation, and the AF population from the AF-General (ESC EORP AF-Gen) pilot registry. Data collection was performed using a web-based system. In the AFA and in the Atrial Fibrillation General (AFG) pilot registries, 3593 and 3049 patients were enrolled, respectively. Patients who underwent AF ablation were younger, more commonly male, and had significantly less comorbidities. Atrial Fibrillation Ablation patients often presented without comorbidities, resulting in a lower risk of stroke (CHA2DS2-VASc ≥5: 2.9% vs. 24.5%, all P < 0.001) and bleeding (HAS-BLED ≥2: 8.5% vs. 40.5%, P < 0.001) but with European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) scores >1 and more prevalent AF-related symptoms such as palpitations, fatigue, and weakness (all P < 0.001) as compared to the general AF patients. Atrial Fibrillation Ablation patients were significantly more often male, had higher left ventricular ejection fraction (59.5% vs. 52.4%) and smaller left atrial size on echocardiogram (P < 0.001 each). Conclusion: The comparison of the patient cohorts in the AFA and AFG registries showed that AF ablation in European clinical practice is mostly performed in relatively young, symptomatic and relatively healthy patients.