Representatives of the federal, state and local governments will discuss refugee policy in Berlin this Thursday. The federal states and municipalities in particular have been pushing for such a refugee summit for a long time to talk about the distribution of the burden of accommodation and care for the refugees. Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) signals readiness for further support, but also refers to the already considerable achievements of the federal government.
Federal Minister of the Interior Faeser invited. The responsible department heads of all 16 federal states as well as the municipal umbrella organizations are also present. Contrary to demands from the federal states and municipalities, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Federal Minister of Finance Christian Lindner (FDP) were not among the participants, whose consent would be required for additional financial services from the federal government. Lindner's ministry is represented by a state secretary, as is the Federal Building Ministry.
In January alone, around 29,000 initial applications for asylum were made in Germany. If this were extrapolated for the year as a whole, the number of around 218,000 first-time applications registered last year would be significantly exceeded, especially since the trend in entries is tending to continue upwards. In addition, last year there were more than a million people from Ukraine who have special status but also need housing, social benefits and other supplies.
Above all, municipal umbrella organizations, but also the federal states refer to considerable burdens due to the high number of entries. This applies both financially and organizationally, since there is hardly any accommodation capacity left and school and daycare places are also becoming scarce. A warning is given against resorting to emergency accommodation such as sports halls again.
The federal states and local authorities are pushing for the federal government to cover all of the housing and health costs. This would be an additional two billion euros per year, but significantly higher figures are also mentioned. In addition, the federal government should provide more of its own real estate.
For 2022, the federal government had initially promised states and municipalities a flat rate of two billion euros in addition to supplying people from Ukraine. In October, this was increased by an additional 1.5 billion euros for 2022 and 2023 for refugee-related costs. There was also a commitment for payments of a further 1.25 billion euros from 2023, resulting in a total of 2.75 billion euros for the current year.
With regard to further demands, Lindner repeatedly referred to the limited financial possibilities of the federal government. Faeser also argues that the federal government has already made 68,000 places available for refugees in 330 state-owned properties. Of these, about two-thirds are apparently occupied.
In order to reduce the pressure, there are also increasing calls for the deportation of people who are obliged to leave the country to be deported and for so-called irregular migration to be limited. The government's new special representative, Joachim Stamp, wants to do this. Conversely, there is also discussion about removing obstacles to work for refugees – including those who only have a “Duldung” – in order to accelerate their integration into the labor market and thus away from state social benefits.