Are social benefits for migrants in Germany too high? Battle erupts between Green Party and FDP

Migrants have a strong incentive to make their way to Germany, with social benefits serving as a high pull factor, but the Green Party wants to increase the country’s already high social welfare payments for this demographic

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: John Cody
Annalena Baerbock, the chancellor candidate for Germany's Green Party, ran on a platform based on increasing migration to Germany. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

The incoming coalition of the Green Party, Social Democrats (SPD) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) is already running into serious disagreements, with one major sticking point regarding how much money asylum seekers should be paid through Germany’s benefits system.

Christian Lindner, the leader of the FDP, has already harshly criticized his partners on tax policy and rental caps. However, benefits for asylum seekers remains a major sticking point, with the Greens and the FDP far apart, according to Bild

Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP) leader Christian Lindner looks on during a news conference following the Saxony-Anhalt state election, Berlin, Germany, June 7, 2021. (Annegret Hilse/Pool Photo via AP)

The right to asylum in Germany is regulated in Article 16a (1) of the Basic Law, which stipulates that politically persecuted people therefore enjoy the right of asylum. According to the Federal Statistical Office, a little more than 1.85 million so-called protection seekers were living in Germany in 2020.

However, the Greens want to take a major step and abolish the so-called Asylum Seekers Benefits Act. That means that Asylum seekers would then gain access to Germany’s standard welfare benefit scheme, known as Hartz IV, and be eligible for the standard rate of €446 euros per person. Currently, under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act, those seeking protection receive a maximum of €364 per person for “necessary needs”. Furthermore, the Greens are calling for asylum seekers to have a full right to all medical services that social welfare recipients are entitled to

The FDP rejects all of this, according to the report. The is generally seen as a pro-migrant party, with key politicians already controversially calling for half a million migrants a year. However, the party is also economically liberal, and wants to attract highly-skilled immigrants and shy away from asylum seekers from the Middle East who typically feature less education and job skills.

A federal police officer guards an arrested migrant at a police station on the German border town with Poland in Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. German federal police said more than 4,300 people illegally crossed the border from Poland this year, with most of the migrants coming from Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Iran, German news agency dpa reported. The German government is working on various measures to curb migration on the country’s eastern border. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Germany has spent tens of billions on integration for migrants with limited results. In 2020, Germany pledged to spend €64 billion on migrants over the next four years. The majority of refugees in Germany need state support.

Germany has also paid enormous costs for training, employing and integrating refugees. In 2018, the German government spent a record €23 billion on migrants, including rent subsidies, jobless payments, language lessons, and other benefits. That figure does not account for what individual states spent either, with Hamburg’s government releasing data showing it spent €5.35 billion on asylum seekers between 2015 and the end of 2019. 

CSU rejects higher benefits

Other politicians are wading into the debate on social benefits for migrants, with Christian Socialist Union (CSU) regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt speaking out against increasing social benefits for asylum seekers.

“An expansion of benefits for asylum seekers increases the incentive to come to Germany and additionally intensifies the secondary migration of asylum seekers within Europe,” warned the member of the Bundestag on Tuesday.

Alexander Dobrindt, Germany, benefits, migrants
Chairman of the German Christian Social Union state group CSU, Alexander Dobrindt, arrives for a party convention of the German Christian Social Union, CSU, in Nuremberg, Germany, Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Germany’s generous social welfare system is not suitable for controlling and limiting migration and actually encourages more migrants to come, he noted.

“Europe does not need a new stimulus, but a clear roadmap to protect its external borders, prevent illegal migration and curb secondary migration in Europe,” explained Dobrindt.

He received approval from his party colleague, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann. The CSU politician pointed out that Germany already pays migrants high social benefits compared to other European countries.

“The European asylum law must also achieve a greater harmonization of social benefits,” Herrmann added.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, looks to Bavarian interior Minister Joachim Herrmann at the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union CDU in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 after the German parliament elections. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Furthermore, he advocated reviewing and amending the amount of benefits for asylum seekers who are scheduled for deportation.

Last year, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politician and German Interior Minister for the state of Saaraland Klaus Bouillon said that migrants are already receiving better benefits than German citizens. His extensive criticisms of Germany’s migration and benefits system were covered by Remix News.

“There is great discontent among the population because everyone who arrives here immediately has many or even more rights along with rights to benefits and medical care than someone who has worked here for their entire life,” said Bouillon.

Foreign criticism of Germany’s welfare system

This week, Greece’s minister of migration, Notis Mitarachi, criticized Western European nations for their high benefits for migrants, which he says serve as a pull factor.

“If they make it to Germany, Austria, or Sweden, they are entitled to benefits that even exceed Greek salaries,” said Mitarachi.

The Greek minister indicated that much of Greece’s migrant crisis has to do with migrants using his country as a transit zone to reach countries further in the West.

“The problem is that you are attracting these people through Greece, and I don’t want to be the gateway to Europe,” said Mitarachi.

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