More talks between Federation and Länder planned

Asylum and refugee policy More talks between Federation and Länder planned

Talks between the Federation and the Länder on refugee issues have been planned for September. When visiting a processing centre in Deggendorf, Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Mazière said about the growing difficulties: "We are challenged but not overwhelmed."

Refugees sitting on a stairway at the train station in Rosenheim

Refugees awaiting registration in Rosenheim (Bavaria)

Photo: picture-alliance/dpa/Gebert

"There is a permanent exchange of information on the development of migration”, declared federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert on Monday (10 August). In view of the rising numbers of asylum seekers and refugees, new concepts are needed to resolve outstanding issues. Talks on the topic between the Federation and the Länder are being planned for September. Seibert did not mention a specific date.

Already on 3 August, deputy government spokesperson Christiane Wirtz had said that the Federal Government was open to holding the talks in September. This way, arrangements could be made early, before the start of the cold season.

de Maizière in Deggendorf and Eisenhüttenstadt

Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Mazière informed himself on the ground on the tasks of the Federal Police regarding the initial registration of refugees. On Tuesday (11 August) he visited the Federal Police department in Deggendorf.

In response to increasing requirements de Mazière promised the employees extra support: "We are now providing quick help by detaching staff members here from public order support forces and other departments of the Federal Police."

On Thursday (13 August) he will visit the Central Foreigners Authority in Brandenburg and the regional office of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Eisenhüttenstadt together with Brandenburg’s Minister-President Dietmar Woidke in order to achieve a better overview of the situation on the ground.

Shortening asylum procedures

Concerning the length of asylum procedures, the Head of the Federal Chancellery Peter Altmaier had pressed for a speedup. "We must improve, we must become faster," he declared in an interview with the German broadcaster ZDF (3 August). He also said he was optimistic about clearing the backlog of some 240,000 open asylum applications. The aim is to shorten the procedures so that asylum laws can be applied and abuses prevented.

The measures taken by the Federal Government to shorten procedures are proving effective. Already, applications for asylum are being dealt with faster. New figures published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior indicate that on average 5.3 months is required to process a request for asylum. This marks a significant reduction when compared to the 7.1 months required only last year. "We are not resting on our laurels though. We intend to speed things up further," declared a spokesperson of the Federal Interior Ministry on 27 July.

Processing times are already much shorter for applicants from some high-priority countries of origin. Applications from citizens of Kosovo, for instance, are already processed within two months.

Joint action plan of federal and state governments takes effect

One reason for this trend is the improved human resources now available to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). These past months, 650 positions were filled. Another 1,000 jobs are planned for 2016, said a spokesperson of the Federal Interior Ministry.

The increase in staff is part of an action plan agreed on by the federal and state governments at a meeting on 18 June. Asylum proceedings are to be accelerated and the existing backlog of applications cleared.

Safe countries of origin

The Federal Interior Ministry spokesperson also pointed to the Law on the Classification of other Countries as Safe Countries of Origin. Since November 2014 this status has applied to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia. The rising numbers of applicants from these countries has been braked strongly, reported the spokesperson.