Berlin The federal and state governments have drawn some heavy criticism with their decisions on financing refugee costs. The decision “means failure because it is neither financially sufficient nor does it give the municipalities long-term planning security,” said the President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratzscher, the Handelsblatt. “By failing to reach agreement, federal and state governments are doing significant damage that is fueling populists and far-right forces.”
Like Fratzscher, business wise man Achim Truger also sees a “bad signal” in the fact that at the meeting of the 16 Prime Ministers and Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on Wednesday, a permanent solution for financing refugee accommodation was postponed until autumn. “That could frustrate a lot of people,” Truger said. “One gets the impression that this is ultimately due to the budget dispute in the traffic light coalition and that the date was deliberately set after this year’s state elections.” In Bavaria and Hesse, new state parliaments will be elected at the beginning of October.
The resolutions also caused resentment among the municipalities, which were not invited to the so-called refugee summit, although they bear the main burden of accommodating those seeking protection.
At least the financial issues should have been resolved in the long term, said the President of the District Council, Reinhard Sager. Against this background, the federal-state resolutions “cannot be conveyed to the districts groaning under the burden of the current situation”.
Chancellor Scholz sees the postponed fundamental decision on permanently higher federal funds for financing the accommodation and care of refugees as an open process. Solving the task is not easy because a lot has happened in recent years, said Scholz after the consultations in the Chancellery. “We go in there as an open process and nobody can predict the outcome.”
Greens quickly urge further steps – Söder demands more money from the federal government
When the agreement was reached on Wednesday evening, the federal government pledged one billion euros as an additional contribution to the costs of refugee care for this year. However, the future breakdown of the costs will first be discussed in a working group and a decision will not be made until November. The billion is “just a drop in the bucket”, criticized the general manager of the Association of Towns and Municipalities, Gerd Landsberg.
The amount is intended to support the federal states in further relieving their municipalities and in financing the digitization of the immigration authorities. The federal government had previously pledged 1.5 billion euros for war refugees from Ukraine this year and 1.25 billion euros for other refugees. Saxony, Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt recorded in a protocol statement that they consider the summit results to be inadequate.
The criticism is also due to the fact that Scholz did not agree to the demands of the federal states for a “breathing” financing system in which the federal allocations should depend on the actual number of newly arriving asylum seekers.
The main background to the debate is that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) registered 101,981 asylum applications in the first four months of this year. That is almost 80 percent more than in the previous year. In addition, the municipalities have to accommodate more than a million war refugees from Ukraine. They do not have to apply for asylum.
The Greens chairman Omid Nouripour quickly calls for further steps to give the municipalities planning security beyond the year 2023. “Anyone who climbs from summit to summit cannot get their feet on the ground,” said Nouripour on ARD.
>> Read here: Comment – The refugee summit is a major disappointment
Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder insists on more money from the federal government. “Accommodation and humanity must not be decided based on the cash situation,” warned the CSU politician. Therefore, it must be urgently reworked.
Fratzscher fears greater polarization in society
The President of the Munich Ifo Institute, Clemens Fuest, showed understanding for the federal government. The states could have improved their financial position compared to that of the federal government in recent years, said Fuest. “In this respect, it is understandable that the federal government is only partially willing to make more funds available.”
On the other hand, the economist Truger fears that the support for refugees “is at risk of getting under the wheels under the unnecessarily restrictive financial policy of the federal government”. And if an agreement on a per capita refugee flat rate should be ruled out, it is to be feared that the federal-state dispute will drag on forever and that decisions will always be made based on the cash situation. “That would not be a rational and predictable financial policy.”
DIW boss Fratzscher warned of the consequences. So far, the municipalities have done “excellent work” in receiving and integrating the refugees. “But the voices against refugees and for border closures will become louder again and will inevitably lead to a stronger polarization of society,” he said. The federal and state resolutions would therefore not make the integration of refugees easier, but more difficult.
However, declarations of intent by the Federal Government to curb so-called illegal migration more were largely welcomed, even if negotiations on this are still pending at EU level and migration agreements are also to be concluded with countries of origin and transit.
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