Germany's state leaders pile on pressure on government ahead of refugee summit

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Germany's state leaders pile on pressure on government ahead of refugee summit
Workers and refugees are pictured near a pool table at the Ukraine Arrival Centre Tegel for Ukrainian refugees in Berlin, on March 30, 2023. Germany's state premiers are calling for more money from the government to help them manage the influx of refugees ahead of a summit on Wednesday. Photo: Adrian DENNIS / AFP

Ahead of next Wednesday's refugee summit at the Federal Chancellor's Office in Berlin, Germany's state premiers are calling for more money from the government to help them manage the influx of refugees.


"Cities, communities and districts need significantly more money – the government must therefore at least double its current pledge of €2.75 billion," demanded Hessen's state leader Boris Rhein (CDU), speaking to Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. 

"There's no other way of financing accommodation and integration in the long term," he added.

Rhein also called for the amount of funding to be proportionate to the number of refugees entering the country.

As the government is responsible for controlling and limiting immigration, "if the number of refugees increases, the government amount should also increase," he said.

Germany took in more than 1.2 million refugees in 2022.

Wednesday's meeting between the state ministers and the chancellor should send out a clear signal that "the federal government is finally pulling its head out of the sand, recognising the municipalities' need and providing help as quickly as possible," Rhein said.

READ ALSO: Why tensions are brewing in eastern Germany over refugee arrivals

Saxony-Anhalt's Minister President, Reiner Haseloff (CDU) agreed that the government should also take more responsibility for immigration.


"The government must finally ensure that immigration is controlled. If we in Germany do not show ourselves to be capable of action, trust in our democracy will increasingly be undermined," he told Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag.

And Bavaria's head of state Markus Söder (CSU) threatened to cut aid to home states that did not take back rejected asylum seekers.

“We stand by the fundamental right to asylum. But for countries that do not agree to orderly repatriation, we must also consider cuts in development aid in the future," Söder told the newspaper.

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: Over one million Ukrainians fled to Germany in 2022

Green and SPD ministers were also critical of the government's current position.

"The government must live up to its responsibility and not leave the states and municipalities alone with the additional costs of the refugee crisis," Baden-Württemberg's premier Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) told the paper.


And Anke Rehlinger (SPD), head of Saarland, called for "unclaimed housing support funds to be used to create affordable housing that could also be used as temporary accommodation for refugees".

Germany's Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) was confident ahead of the meeting, seeing good chances of finding a political solution on immigration within the EU soon.

"I want us as Europeans to finally act together – despite all the resistance," she told Bild am Sonntag.

"We have already broken through the years of mutual blockade in the EU," she added.

READ ALSO: How well have refugees integrated in Germany since 2015?

At stake here is the proposal for asylum centres at the EU's external borders, from where asylum seekers can also be sent back or distributed fairly.

But when it comes to calls for the government to contribute more to federal states and municipalities' refugee costs, Faeser has, to date, been skeptical.

The state premiers are due to meet with the Federal Chancellor at a special conference at the Chancellery in Berlin on Wednesday.




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