Hardened fronts before federal-state top-level talks on refugee costs

Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) said after a meeting between the heads of government of the federal states and the municipal umbrella organizations that there was agreement between them "that the federal government must return to a breathing system of refugee financing".

Hardened fronts before federal-state top-level talks on refugee costs

Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) said after a meeting between the heads of government of the federal states and the municipal umbrella organizations that there was agreement between them "that the federal government must return to a breathing system of refugee financing". It must be about the actual number of refugees, "one-off lump sum payments are not enough," emphasized Weil. States and local authorities stand "side by side" on this point.

The Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hendrik Wüst (CDU), also criticized the fact that in 2021 the federal government had said goodbye to the system that had been in force until then, according to which payments were based on the actual access numbers. A paper by the state finance ministries again calls for a monthly per capita flat rate for asylum seekers. However, the rate applied until 2021 must be raised from 670 euros to around a thousand euros.

Hebestreit admitted that there was a "challenging situation" for many municipalities. However, the federal government is already making a contribution of 15 billion euros for this in the current year. "90 percent of the costs incurred by the refugees who come to Germany from the Ukraine are borne by the federal government." But "the countries would also have to shoulder their share," said the government spokesman.

Financing the costs for the refugees is the central topic of the meeting between Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the Prime Ministers of the federal states on Wednesday. According to a decision paper by the federal government, it sees no reason for additional payments.

However, the government wants to accommodate the countries by simplifying procedures and additional measures to limit entry and facilitate the deportation of refugees. The federal government's paper mentions the digitization of the immigration offices, faster administrative court procedures, but also central "arrival facilities" for refugees, from which deportations could take place directly.

FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai took a tough stance on the demands of the federal states and local authorities. "Money doesn't solve a single problem in this situation," he said in Berlin. It is more important to "significantly accelerate" the asylum procedure and to improve the protection of the EU's external borders.

SPD leader Saskia Esken was a little more cautious. "We have to ensure that everyone makes their appropriate contribution," she said in Berlin. However, Esken also referred to the obligation for the federal government to comply with the debt brake. In addition, she also urged "that there is more order in migration issues".

The Greens signaled openness to more support from the federal government, at least in hardship cases. Some municipalities are "very, very heavily burdened," said party leader Ricarda Lang. There must be support for them, and it will “also be about a financial contribution from the federal government”. Lang was critical of a more restrictive asylum policy. There should be no return to a policy in which "the rule of law is restricted".

The left also opposed a "further disenfranchisement" of refugees. "Problems with accommodation must not be used as an instrument in order to tighten residence law," demanded Clara Bünger, spokeswoman for refugee policy. The Seebrücke organization demanded more and not less willingness to accept refugees.

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