Federal Cabinet approves bill for payment card for asylum seekers

The Federal Ministry of Labor had presented a so-called formulation aid for the coalition factions.

Federal Cabinet approves bill for payment card for asylum seekers

The Federal Ministry of Labor had presented a so-called formulation aid for the coalition factions. The bill will now be discussed further in the Bundestag. It is planned that the payment card will be explicitly included as an option in the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act - in addition to the existing options for cash or benefits in kind.

A spokesman for the labor department had already made it clear at midday that “the federal government supports the introduction of the payment card”. The Greens had previously had reservations about federal regulation of the payment card. It was said that this was not necessary for the states to introduce it. “We think the project is fundamentally correct,” said a spokeswoman for Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens).

FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr welcomed the traffic light coalition's agreement on the new law. He spoke out in favor of bringing about a Bundestag resolution on this in the next week of the session. The payment card is “a good signal for the municipalities: we will bring more order to German migration policy.”

The interior expert of the FDP parliamentary group, Stephan Thomae, told AFP that the payment card would "help overburdened municipalities and help reduce incentives for irregular migration." The introduction is “a step towards a new realpolitik in migration”. The payment card “will effectively reduce the attractiveness of the German social system,” said FDP leader Christian Lindner on the X internet service, urging its rapid introduction.

The Green Party's parliamentary group reacted more cautiously to the federal government's compromise on payment cards. The parliamentary group leader Andreas Audretsch referred to agreed further “examinations and discussions” in the “t-online” portal. “Payment cards must not prevent people from integrating into Germany and becoming part of our society,” warned Audretsch.

Other members of the Green parliamentary group were clearer. “The planned payment card prevents integration,” warned municipal expert Karoline Otte, also in t-online. Green migration expert Julian Pahlke told the portal: "I'm worried about the payment card having a discriminatory effect." In addition, if people are denied the opportunity to “manage their money in regular ways,” they are likely to be pushed into the shadow economy.

According to information from coalition circles, the labor department's formulation aid stipulates that the federal states are left to decide whether they want to use the new instrument or whether they prefer cash or non-cash benefits. The specific design of the card should also be up to the states - for example whether and how much cash asylum seekers can withdraw from the card.

Another point of contention so far has been the question of how to deal with asylum seekers who receive benefits equivalent to citizen's allowance after 18 or, in the future, 36 months of stay. This should now be clarified in the parliamentary process, according to the table.media portal. The same applies to dealing with employed asylum seekers as well as students or trainees.

The President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratzscher, criticized the payment card. This is “purely symbolic politics,” he wrote on the Internet service X.