Migration: Before the refugee summit: Hardened fronts on costs

In the dispute over financing the reception of refugees, there are no signs of any rapprochement between the federal states and local authorities on the one hand and the federal government on the other.

Migration: Before the refugee summit: Hardened fronts on costs

In the dispute over financing the reception of refugees, there are no signs of any rapprochement between the federal states and local authorities on the one hand and the federal government on the other. The states are pushing for more money from the federal government. This will be discussed at the refugee summit in Berlin on Wednesday. Doubts about the government's course are also being voiced within the traffic light coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP: Greens leader Ricarda Lang has demanded more money from the federal government for the accommodation of refugees.

The federal government already bears a significant part of the costs for taking in refugees in Germany, said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit on Monday in Berlin. "It is true that the municipalities are facing financial challenges," said Hebestreit. However, the federal states are responsible for their financial situation, direct financial relationships between the federal government and the municipalities are not legally provided for. "In this respect, the federal government can only help to a limited extent."

Greens are demanding more money from the federal government

Lang said she assumes the government has an eye on local issues and doesn't want to let anyone down. "That's why I'm optimistic that we can find solutions together." Many municipalities went to their load limit. "In the end, it will probably also be about a financial contribution from the federal government." The demand for more financial support had so far been rejected by the federal government.

FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai said his party expects Wednesday's meeting to herald "a turning point in migration policy." "This is not about money. Money will only help in the short term. What we need are political solutions." It is about management and control in migration policy. "People in our country want to know who is coming to us."

Because: states and municipalities stand side by side

The chairman of the Prime Ministers' Conference (MPK), Lower Saxony's head of government, Stephan Weil, emphasized that the federal states and local authorities stand side by side on this issue. "The financial resources of the federal government must be based on the actual number of people who have fled to us, with one-off lump sum payments it is not enough," said the SPD politician. The municipalities also demanded that the federal government bear 100 percent of the costs of accommodation again.

North Rhine-Westphalia's Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst accused the federal government, as co-chair of the MPK, of largely ignoring the situation on site. "The calls for help from cities and communities are dismissed from Berlin," said the CDU politician.

The heads of government of the federal states had previously exchanged views with the federal heads of the municipal umbrella organizations. "Results must be achieved on Wednesday," said the President of the German District Association, Reinhard Sager, of the German Press Agency. The municipalities did not ask for the impossible, but for recognized refugees to be fully reimbursed for their accommodation costs. Here there is an annual gap of more than two billion euros in the municipalities.

Federal-state summit on Wednesday

At a federal-state summit with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), the refugee costs are to be discussed again on Wednesday. For 2023, the federal government had pledged 1.5 billion euros for refugees from Ukraine last year, as well as a general refugee-related lump sum of 1.25 billion euros. In addition, the federal government pays social benefits.

The cost of accommodation and care for those seeking protection are a bone of contention between the federal and state governments. The fact that the federal government does not provide sufficient financial support to the states is clear from a paper by the state finance ministers, which, according to information from the German Press Agency, was mutually agreed on Sunday evening. In it, the federal states complain about cuts in the assumption of costs by the federal government and, as a result, completely inadequate financial resources in view of the growing burdens.

Countries fear having to bear the costs themselves

The state finance ministers open this calculation: "A large part of the federal government's services are limited and will cease from 2024," they balance. Only the annual refugee allowance of 1.25 billion euros is currently regulated. In comparison, the federal states would have received 4.5 billion and 2.8 billion euros from the federal government in 2022 and 2023, respectively. "In 2016, the federal government even paid 9.1 billion euros," they say, referring to the recent refugee crisis.

The federal government argues that in view of the large number of refugees from Ukraine, it will have massively expanded support from the federal states and municipalities again from 2022. However, this is happening in a different way than in 2015/16.

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