2 October 2015

A package of legislative proposals, which have been condemned by ECRE Member Pro Asyl for their exclusion and deterrence of asylum seekers and refugees, has been approved by the German government. The measures will now be debated in parliament before entering into force.

Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro will be added to the list of ‘safe’ countries of origin, which means that asylum seekers from these states can be processed and deported more rapidly.

It proposes a significant reduction in welfare benefits for various groups of asylum seekers who will be excluded from socio-cultural benefits and will only be entitled to benefits to ensure their basic physical needs. The following groups will receive 40% less of regular social payments: those being processed under the Dublin Regulation, persons with status in another EU country, rejected asylum seekers that are considered to be responsible for their failure to leave and asylum seekers that came to Germany after being relocated to another European country.

In addition, cash benefits will be replaced with benefits in kind, especially in the first six months. The measures also provide for reduced working rights and an increase to six months compulsory residence in initial reception centres; under very poor living conditions. The government backtracked on a previous version of the bill, which also removed the right to accommodation and food for people under Dublin procedure, following strong criticism from civil society. However, Pro Asyl still considers that the measures are unconstitutional, are aimed at deterring refugees and are contrary to human dignity as they ensure mere survival rather than minimum socio-cultural rights. 

Other proposals include better integration policies, including language and vocational courses for those with good prospects of being granted leave. In addition, more funding will be given to federal states to enable them to cope with the increased numbers of asylum seekers and to increase the stock of social housing.

Pro Asyl has published a policy paper on the reception and integration of refugees in which 11 demands are made to the German government.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 2 October 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.