Local authorities to receive more funds

Top-level meeting to discuss refugee policy
Local authorities to receive more funds

In the face of the rising number of refugees arriving in Germany, the German government is to double the financial assistance for local authorities this year. This was the main outcome of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s top-level meeting on Thursday evening with state premiers and several Cabinet ministers.

At a top-level meeting on Thursday evening at the Federal Interior Ministry, Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed with the state premiers and several Cabinet ministers how to deal with the rising number of refugees. The presidents of Germany’s local authority associations also took part in the talks in Berlin.

The meeting prepared the agenda for the conference of state premiers scheduled to take place on 18 June at the Federal Chancellery.

German government to double local authority assistance

It was agreed that the German government would double the lump-sum assistance available to local authorities in 2015. As of 2016 a structural and permanent mechanism will be put in place under which the government will shoulder a share of the national costs arising in conjunction with the number of asylum seekers and refugees requiring protection. More detailed decisions will be made later in the year. A working group bringing together national and state government representatives will undertake the preparatory work.

The German government and the federal states agree that they share the responsibility for coping with the huge number of refugees and asylum-seekers. A clear distinction must be made, they agreed, between those who need protection and those who have no prospects of seeing their applications accepted.

Common package of measures

At the top-level meeting held on 8 May the Chancellor announced a new common package of measures. Staffing levels at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees are to be increased to enable it to speed up application procedures. The Chancellor stressed that, "This was the start, but a great deal of work lies ahead of us."

The conference of state premiers on 18 June in Berlin will decide on the package of measures.

More than 400,000 requests for asylum forecast

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has forecast that more than 400,000 requests for asylum will be received by the end of the year – twice as many as in 2014. It is difficult to predict the numbers of asylum seekers from the Western Balkan states, said Thomas de Maizière on 8 May.

In future a greater distinction is to be made between applicants: between those who have good prospects of being granted asylum or protected status in Germany, and those coming from countries considered safe, making it likely that they will have to leave Germany.

More jobs for the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)

To this end, different procedures and different facilities should be adopted for refugees from the Balkan states in particular, said Thomas de Maizière. To ensure that applications are processed more swiftly up to 2,000 more jobs are to be created at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, "750 of them before the end of this budget year", i.e. before the end of 2015.

Top-level meeting
Next Thursday (18 June) the Chancellor will hold her regular six-monthly meeting with the state premiers of Germany’s federal states at the Federal Chancellery. Asylum and refugee policy will be one of the main items on the agenda.
The preparatory meeting on 11 June was attended by a number of Cabinet ministers and the Chancellor: Thomas de Maizière, Wolfgang Schäuble, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Hermann Gröhe, Manuela Schwesig, Barbara Hendricks, Andrea Nahles and Johanna Wanka. Peter Altmaier, Head of the Federal Chancellery, Minister of State Helge Braun, the Federal Government Commissioner for Migrants, Refugees and Integration Aydan Özoğuz, the President of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees Manfred Schmidt and Heinrich Alt, Member of the Executive Board of the Federal Employment Agency also attended the meeting on the side of the national government. Representing the federal states were all state premiers and the heads of the state chancelleries. The presidents of Germany’s local authority associations represented local authorities.