During their talks on Wednesday, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the heads of government of the federal states agreed to better control the influx of refugees in an orderly, structured, and digitalised procedure. The Federal Chancellor summed up the talks, which were held in the Chancellery, as "good and constructive".
The Federal and Länder Governments agreed to …
- ... establish new migration partnerships to facilitate the influx of skilled workers, but also to make it easier to repatriate people to their countries of origin.
- ...increase protection for the EU's external borders.
- ... expedite asylum procedures.
- ... provide the relevant authorities with more advanced digital infrastructures.
- ... ensure that refugees can be provided with adequate accommodation, care, and integration services.
- ... consistently enforce the deportation rules, especially for criminal offenders and dangerous persons.
- It was also agreed that the Federal Government will be providing further funding for the Länder and municipalities amounting to one billion euros in 2023.
Click here for the full resolution text, which was produced following the Federal Chancellor's meeting with the heads of government of the Länder.
"A good day for German federalism"
Referring to the agreement reached, Federal Chancellor Scholz expressed his view that: "This is a good day for the German federalism that we currently enjoy." Taking in, accommodating, and integrating refugees, he said, was a major challenge for the Federal Government, the Länder, and the municipal authorities and he added that "this will only work if the general public, the many voluntary aid workers, but also all levels of the state, from the municipalities to the federal states and the Federal Government, collaborate closely with one another."
More support for the Länder and municipalities
The Federal Government has already provided comprehensive financial support to the Länder and municipalities in view of the huge influx of refugees and will be continuing to provide significant funding this year. Federal Chancellor Scholz: "We once again reviewed the fact that we are already providing a vast amount of funds." The Federal Government, he said, had spent about 15 billion euros this year to help deal with this issue.
The Federal Government will be continuing to provide this financial support over the coming years, specifically through the refugee lump sum, the payment of a citizen's allowance to needy refugees from Ukraine and approved asylum seekers, as well as through the rent-free provision of buildings and land owned by the Federal Government.
In addition to these current lump-sum payments, the Federal Government will be increasing the refugee lump-sum payments to the Länder by a further billion euros in 2023. According to the Federal Chancellor, the money is needed "to support both the digitalisation of the respective authorities tasked with dealing with foreign nationals and to better assist the municipal authorities with the difficult and far-reaching challenges they are facing."
The Federal Chancellor and the heads of the Länder will be deciding on further developments in late November 2023, to which end a federal-state working group will carry out preparatory work. Commenting on this, the Federal Chancellor stated that: "We will be setting up a small but efficient working group, which will also be providing interim reports on its work, in order to see what good insights and ideas we can develop." The Federal Chancellor plans to meet with the Länder heads at the next regular meeting in mid-June 2023 to assess the interim status.
A substantial acceleration of asylum procedures
Both the Federal Government and the Länder want to ensure that asylum procedures are carried out quickly and to a high-quality standard. Because, as the Federal Chancellor said, "it's important for those seeking protection here to know where they stand quickly, and it's also important for us to be able to rapidly process applications in order to decide who should stay." There was agreement at all levels of government to better manage and coordinate the procedural processes to become faster and more efficient.
The Acceleration of Asylum Court Proceedings and Asylum Procedures Act already came into force in January 2023. Both the Federal Government and the Länder agree on the necessity of early registration and the subsequent rapid forwarding of asylum seekers to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). In future, all asylum applications will have to be filed within two weeks and a BAMF hearing must be held within four weeks.
Rapid digitisation of authorities that deal with foreign nationals
"What we need is a modern administration," said Federal Chancellor Scholz, which is why all authorities involved in dealing with foreign nationals will be using digital devices as soon as possible. Digitalisation and data exchange between agencies are particularly important in terms of creating more structured and faster processes and procedures. All of our authorities responsible for dealing with foreign nationals must be able to exchange data digitally with other service authorities.
The aim, therefore, is to create online access portals wherever possible, to automate all work processes of the authorities and institutions involved as quickly and as comprehensively as possible, to eliminate media discontinuities in data exchanges, and to implement uniform standards for the storage and further processing of data. To achieve this, all locally held files relating to foreign nationals must be transferred to the Central Register of Foreign Nationals.
Strict application of the deportation rules for non-entitled persons
Both the Federal Government and the Länder agree that persons denied the right to stay must be repatriated to their countries of origin. Above all, this applies to refugees who have committed criminal offences and to dangerous persons and will require an effective system to manage the returns. The Federal Government and the Länder agreed to revise existing legal regulations that prevent or impede deportations.
One of the measures to be included would mean that the continuation and ordering of detention pending deportation would be possible irrespective of any asylum applications, even in the case of subsequent applications. The Länder will continue to establish and maintain detention facilities with sufficient capacity for deportees.
Reducing irregular immigration and promoting legal immigration
Cooperation with the countries of origin needs to be improved in order to reduce irregular immigration. The Special Plenipotentiary for Migration Agreements, Joachim Stamp, who was appointed by the Federal Government, will focus more on concluding partnership agreements with the states in question. The objective of all partnership agreements concluded will be the consistent curbing of illegal immigration and the promotion of regulated migration, for example of urgently needed skilled workers for our labour market.
- The Federal Government will consistently work with the EU, to ensure that all current reform proposals concerning European asylum and migration policy are unified by the time of the EU elections in 2024. This will result in a fair distribution of responsibility and competence between the EU states as well as better standards for those seeking protection in asylum procedures and integration within the EU states.
- Working in the context of the Dublin procedure, the Federal Government will also press for a reduction of irregular secondary migration. Asylum must be claimed in whichever state the claimant first enters EU territory, which will ensure that an application will only have to be processed once within the EU.
- Together with the governments of other European countries, the Federal Government is also committed to the effective management of the external borders and the expansion of border control capacities and an effective border control infrastructure to combat irregular immigration.
The Federal Government and the Länder also agreed to ...
- ... review the procedures for the distribution and registration of newly arrived refugees to comply with agreed quotas.
- ... provide better equipment for the administrative courts that deal with asylum and residency proceedings.
- ... make changes to building planning and public procurement legislation to facilitate the accommodation of refugees.
- ... provide adequate staffing and funding for the authorities responsible for dealing with foreign nationals and to critically review processes and administrative procedures to identify optimisation potential.
- ... create a nationwide, crisis-proof integration infrastructure that will enable integration right from the start.