Refugee policy is a global challenge

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Chancellor delivers government statement Refugee policy is a global challenge

The refugee problem is not a challenge for Germany alone, stressed the Chancellor in a government statement. "The more clearly this challenge is taken up jointly at national, European and global levels, the more rapidly we will be able to master it." Expectations of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are high.

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Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks in the German Bundestag.

Germany will increase its development spending, says Chancellor

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

"At the moment almost 60 million refugees can be counted around the globe – this figure alone clearly illustrates the fact that we are not facing a German challenge, nor a European challenge, but a global challenge, that every region, every country, every political level, and every institution will have to help to resolve," said Chancellor Angela Merkel in a government statement delivered in the German Bundestag.

We will only be able to cope with the challenge if we tackle the factors that cause people to flee their homes, protect external borders, ensure decent conditions in refugee camps, speed up asylum proceedings significantly, return the people who have no prospects of obtaining residency rights and integrate those genuinely in need of protection, said the Chancellor.

At the refugee summit of the federal and state governments, further decisions will be taken on how to cope with the refugee situation at national level. In particular talks will look at the financial support that the federal government can offer local authorities.

Thanks to helpers welcoming refugees

The Chancellor thanked the many people who are helping arriving refugees. As well as volunteers, she thanked the many public servants involved. "Police officers, the Bundeswehr, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) and the German railway company Deutsche Bahn have repeatedly done everything in their power to make things run smoothly, even under very difficult circumstances," said the Chancellor. "This also applies to coping with the temporary border controls at present."

Integrating people

It is also a question, however, of the longer-term tasks, in particular integrating the people who will stay in Germany in the long term. "This includes the fact that we expect them to respect the rules and values laid out in our constitution, and to integrate into German society on this basis," said Angela Merkel. This entails, in particular, learning German.

In order to help those who are genuinely fleeing war, it is indispensable that asylum procedures be significantly accelerated, and those whose requests are rejected must be returned to their own countries more rigorously.

Europe must withstand this test

The informal meeting of EU heads of state and government on 23 September sent out a signal of unity, said Chancellor Angela Merkel. All participants recognise the pan-European dimension of the crisis and all had reaffirmed their will to "work together and with commitment to find workable solutions".

Because, she continued, the European Union is a "community of values, rights and responsibilities". That is why minimum standards in the accommodation and care of refugees, and in asylum-proceedings, must be respected. "The way we deal with this ongoing crisis will shape our continent for a long time to come," said the Chancellor.

The Chancellor praised the decision of EU justice and home affairs ministers to relocate 120,000 refugees from the EU states currently bearing the brunt of the crisis to all other EU member states. She also stressed, however, that Europe needs not only a one-off relocation measure, but a permanent mechanism to ensure the equitable distribution of refugees. The proposal of the European Commission is a first step in this direction. It required a lot of work. "I would like to thank Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière most warmly for his tireless work," said the Chancellor.

Fighting the root causes of migration

The Chancellor pointed to the need to support crisis affected countries and transit states, and to the urgent need to provide assistance for the people on the ground. She underlined the fact that it will only be possible to fight the root causes of migration in conjunction with the USA, Russia and other partners.

The EU, she reported, will provide at least one billion euros to support the UN’s World Food Programme and other international aid programmes. The Chancellor reaffirmed that Germany would do its bit in this context.

A top priority, said the Chancellor, must be to secure the EU’s external borders. This will only be possible if "hotspots" or registration centres are swiftly established. Hotspots are to be put in place in Greece and Italy by the end of November.

The EU heads of state and government also agreed on the need to step up cooperation with Turkey. The refugee crisis can only be resolved and the EU’s external borders secured if Turkey is involved, reported the Chancellor.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

This weekend the United Nations will meet in New York to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Angela Merkel pointed out that it is vital that we put our world on a more sustainable footing. We have already gone far beyond the planetary boundaries, the ecological stress limits of our planet.

Global plan to reduce the root causes of migration

"We will only succeed in the long term if we accept and tackle global challenges such as food security, health, education and human rights in all their complexity, and if we pay equal attention to the economic, social and ecological aspects of the problem and manage to balance these demands," said Angela Merkel.

The refugee crisis is demonstrating more clearly than any other issue how essential the approach laid out in the new Agenda is. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can be seen as a global plan to tackle the factors that force people to flee their homes, she said.

Angela Merkel continued, "What we wish to achieve in the years to come is laid out in the core message of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: 17 goals with 169 targets. These are the sustainable development goals, which the international community aims to achieve by 2030."

Germany will double climate financing by 2020

At international level a comprehensive and binding climate agreement is to be achieved in December in Paris. "Building on the decisions taken at the G7 summit in Schloss Elmau, the Paris conference must send a clear signal for the decarbonisation of our economy in an effort to keep global warming down to a rise of 2°C," said Angela Merkel. To this end, all states must undertake to take the steps required at national and international level.

For us in the industrialised countries this also means that "We must provide credible evidence that we are delivering on our 2009 pledge to mobilise 100 billion US dollars a year from a variety of different sources to finance climate activities in developing countries," said the Chancellor. Germany will double its climate financing from 2014 to 2020.

Germany to massively increase development budget

The goals cannot be achieved without corresponding financial resources. "Germany will respect its commitment and earmark billions more for development cooperation. Official development assistance, however, is only part of total development financing – private investment to develop the economies in these countries will be vitally important. One main thrust of our policies must be to facilitate this investment, and to foster private-sector engagement," said Angela Merkel.

National Sustainable Development Strategy to be further developed

The German National Sustainable Development Strategy, which has guided the country's sustainability efforts 2002 is to be reviewed and revised in its entirety by late 2016, reported the Chancellor. The strategy provides an important framework for realising the sustainable development goals. It will pinpoint the areas in which national goals will have to be modified in the light of the global sustainable development goals.

The German government is also counting on the support of partners from the realms of civil society, the business community, the science and research community, the federal states and municipalities in its efforts to realise the sustainability agenda, said the Chancellor. All stakeholders are called on to identify their own ambitious goals which will help realise the agenda as a whole.