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German states demand 8 billion more for refugees

Chase WinterJuly 6, 2016

German states have demanded additional funds from the federal government to cover the cost of refugee integration. The request comes ahead of a meeting at the Chancellery.

Deutschland, Flüchtlingsunterkunft im Flughafen Tempelhof
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Schreiber

Germany's 16 states are demanding an additional 8 billion euros ($8.8 billion) over the next three years from the federal government in Berlin to cover the cost burden of integrating refugees, the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" reported on Wednesday.

Horst Seehofer, the premier of the state of Bavaria and leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), told the Munich-based newspaper that all 16 states were united on the 8 billion euro figure ahead of a government summit to discuss the issue at the Chancellery on Thursday.

The additional sum would be distributed in three lump sum payments of 1.5 billion euros this year, 2.5 billion euros next year and 4 billion euros in 2018.

The states have long complained the federal government is not sufficiently sharing costs associated with meeting the needs of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers that have put pressure on local services.

The CDU and CSU have been at loggerheads for months over refugee issues, which have threatened unity within conservative ranks.

The states are calling for more funds to pay for German language courses, education, nursery centers and social welfare. The federal government, meanwhile, has committed to covering the full cost of accommodation and support of unaccompanied youth to the tune of 1 billion euros.

Deutschland Klausur von CDU und CSU in Potsdam
Seehofer and Merkel have often been at odds over how to handle the refugee crisisImage: picture alliance/dpa/R. Hirschberger

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) has said the federal government would not meet the state's demands for extra money. He has requested the states first itemize costs before even opening the issue for discussion.

Yet Seehofer told "Süddeutsche Zeitung" the states were aligned "16 to zero" on the issue against the federal government. He reminded that as some 1.1 million people arrived in Germany last year the government spoke of a common responsibility to handle refugees.

Now the government is shirking from its responsibility, he said.

"It isn't even sharing 20 percent of the costs that itself had precipitated," Seehofer added. "Wolfgang Schäuble called on the European Union to act efficiently. The German federal government should follow the example."

He argued the federal government had plenty of money in tax revenue to cover additional costs without endangering fiscal responsibility.

The federal government has allocated 16 billion euros for refugee related expenses this year, a number that is expected to balloon over several years. But the states consider the figure inflated as it includes such expenses as the military's international missions, humanitarian aid and a stability package for Afghanistan.

Infografik Asylanträge in Deutschland (2014 - 2016)