I recently applied for a PhD position with a major university in Europe. However, I haven't heard back from them even though the dates for the interviews have passed. This somewhat provoces me since I've put a lot of work into my application (it feels disrespectful to not get back to me) and since it makes me unsure whether I have been rejected or merely forgotten. I've already got a response (possibly automately generated) that my application was received by them.
I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect a timely response, however it seems to be the case that many graduate schools are overwhelmed with applications and underestimate the time it takes to deal with them. A slightly more cynical view would be that many graduate school admin departments are understaffed and don't have the resources to cater for expected number of applicants. In my case I submitted my application on 28 Feb and was informed that interviews would take place "during the week of the 19 March". This date came and went and I assumed I had not been successful, so I called the Faculty Graduate Office the following week and was informed that the process was taking longer than expected but I would be notified of the status in due course. On 5 April I received an email saying I had been selected for interview and "we will contact you shortly with an interview date and time". On 25 April I was given the interview date (for the middle of May).
I would recommend that you just call them and ask to know the status.
No, final decisions take a while. It is not the fault of the program, but rather an issue of funding. Programs tend to initially reject very few applicants. An applicant that seems weak on "paper" might get accepted if their proposal fits into a very narrow funding scheme that no other applicants are eligible for. There is no global rank order of the applicants, but rather the "best" applicant for each funding scheme is identified. Programs generally construct strategies which lead to the most funding. The strategy is constantly revised when the program finds out about successful/unsuccessful funding applications and whether the applicant accepts the acceptance. Basically the whole system is a nightmare for everyone.