Germany is aiming to pass a far-reaching new migration law by the end of the year that would impose tougher measures on those seeking asylum in the European Union’s wealthiest country.
(Bloomberg) — Germany is aiming to pass a far-reaching new migration law by the end of the year that would impose tougher measures on those seeking asylum in the European Union’s wealthiest country.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government will make the migration package its next major legislative objective in an effort to get it passed before a series of regional elections next year, according to people familiar with the plans.
Germany is the largest refugee host in the EU, with 2.1 million migrants living there. The three-party ruling coalition in Berlin has cited migration as one of the key issues that has fractured the alliance, sinking the government in polls while giving a boost to the far right.
Scholz, who backed stricter asylum rules earlier this year, wants to find a broad, multi-party agreement on the package ideally including the opposition conservatives, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are ongoing. Measures they’re considering include lowering social benefits for asylum seekers in Germany.
The Greens, who together with the FDP form part of Scholz’s SPD-led government, have until now been opposed to any change of the asylum law. But some in the party are beginning to reconsider that position in the face of a growing political threat from the right-wing Alternative for Germany Party.
More than 204,000 people requested asylum in Germany through August, a 77% increase compared to the same period last year, according to government data. “The capacity in many housing projects is close to zero,” an official from Berlin’s refugee office was quoted by Bild am Sonntag as saying last month.
Russia’s war against Ukraine has triggered a new migration wave in Europe, which is pushing local authorities in Germany to the limits as they struggle to accommodate and support the more than 1 million war refugees who arrived. That influx has reduced the capabilities of local authorities to house and integrate asylum seekers from other countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Scholz on Tuesday reiterated his view that “the number of those who come to Germany as refugees is too high” and said his government is dealing with the situation.
Many of the arrivals have transited through other European countries but not been registered there, Scholz told reporters after a joint Germany-France cabinet meeting in Hamburg, adding that those who cannot make a case for asylum will have to be repatriated.
“That is why we have strongly advocated that we develop a common European asylum system that is based on the idea of solidarity,” he said. “Further steps will be taken, always in close cooperation with all those concerned, including the German regions and municipalities.”
–With assistance from Slav Okov and Zoe Schneeweiss.
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