On November 7, after talks with the heads of 16 German states, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who seeks to reduce the number of refugees and prevent a further rise of the far right, agreed on a stricter migration policy and new funding for asylum seekers.
Scholz’s government has agreed in recent weeks on measures that will make it easier to deport migrants and make Germany less attractive to them, in sharp contrast to the open-door policy pursued by Berlin under former Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The meeting was aimed at garnering support for such steps from state leaders and addressing complaints from local authorities about the overload of the state treasury and infrastructure, Reuters reported.
The result was that the Scholz government agreed to pay states and municipalities 7,500 euros per refugee starting next year, as well as to make an advance payment of 1.75 billion euros in the first half of 2024.
The leader of the central state of Hesse estimated the total amount of aid at 3.5 billion euros.
The authorities plan to save an additional 1 billion euros by reducing benefits for asylum seekers, for example, by doubling the time they can receive full social assistance.
“Our common goal is to stop illegal migration,” Scholz said, calling the agreement a “historic moment.”
The federal government has also agreed to consider asylum outside the European Union, although Scholz expressed scepticism about whether this is constitutionally possible and whether countries would agree to it.
Concerns about migration have increased with the rise in asylum applications, fueled by the one million Ukrainian refugees who arrived in the country after Russia’s full-scale invasion began.
Some 230,000 people applied for asylum in Germany in the first nine months of this year, more than in 2022.
The far-right Alternative for Germany, currently ranked second in national polls, ahead of all three parties in Scholz’s center-left coalition, was the first party to address concerns about migration.