The leaders of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative parties and the Social Democrats agreed during an overnight meeting in Berlin that the government will provide €3 billion for measures such as additional housing and payouts for next year, and give local governments another €3 billion more to cover migrant-related costs.
They also agreed to reduce cash handouts to asylum seekers and declare more Western Balkan countries as “safe countries of origin,” a legal measure that will greatly reduce the number of people from there eligible for asylum.
The parties proposed to change the law and declare Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro as safe countries, allowing migrants from there to be deported back much faster than at present.
Germany’s upper house of parliament has yet to approve this legal change, which will require agreement from the opposition.
People from the Western Balkans, mainly economic migrants, made up about 46% of Germany’s total asylum claims in the first half of the year. Only between 0.1% to 0.2% of claims from the West Balkan countries get accepted in Germany, according to the government, but the in-depth review of such applications is lengthy and has been a drain on Germany’s capacity to review applications from migrants with better prospects of being granted asylum.
A key part of the coalition agreement is also to reduce financial incentives for migrants. They agreed to cut cash handouts for newly arriving migrants and replace them where possible with aid in kind. Advanced payouts will be limited to one month compared with up to six months at present.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has said cash handouts might be an incentive for people to come to Germany as the payments for asylum seekers are roughly as high as the monthly wage of a police officer in Kosovo or Albania.