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Berlin pledges extra refugee help to states

September 25, 2015

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that Berlin will give its regional states extra funding to deal with an influx of migrants. The government says it plans to pay 670 euros per new arrival, per month.

Sonderzüge mit 900 Flüchtlingen
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Hitij

The German government and regional states thrashed out a package of measures on dealing with the influx, with central government promising to shoulder the main financial burden in future.

Under the plan, lauded by Merkel as a "decisive turning point," more money would flow to each state depending on how many people arrive.

The agreement reached on Thursday stipulates that each of the 16 states will receive 670 euros per asylum seeker, per month. That money would then be passed on from the state to the individual communities where migrants and refugees are housed.

Should the asylum process for any individual take longer than the envisaged five months, Berlin has said it will pick up the tab, taking the total planned spending for 2016 - previously some 3 billion euros - to about 4 billion euros. For the current year there was also an increase, to some 2 billion euros, with measures to come into effect from November 1.

Extra money was also to be passed on directly for states to provide day care and education for migrant children.

Faster processing, quotas

According to the deal, refugee numbers are to be shared according to quotas - dependent on each state's tax income. Also included in the package were provisions to speed up the processing of asylum claims and the addition of Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo to a list of countries deemed to be safe. The intention would be to allow more capacity for refugees from conflict zones such as Syria.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said he still aimed to maintain a balanced budget next year, despite the added costs.

"We have a clear commitment to get by without taking on new debt and tax increases," he told ARD German television.

Merkel has been criticized by the leaders of other EU states for waiving asylum rules, declaring that Germany would accept applications even if migrants had traveled through other EU countries. The move was seen as an open invitation, with eastern European leaders reticent to accept quotas set by Brussels.

Earlier this month, Germany temporarily reintroduced passport controls at its border with Austria, as Bavarian authorities struggled to deal with the influx arriving through the Balkans.

rc/lw (AFP, EPD, dpa, AP, Reuters)