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Friedrich Merz (right) and Alexander Dobrindt on their way to the Chancellery

Photo: Paul Zinken / dpa

Hardly any other topic concerns the people in the country as much as migration and refugee policy. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has now met leading opposition representatives in the Chancellery to discuss the issue. After the talks with Union parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz and CSU state group leader Alexander Dobrindt, Merz's entourage said that the conversation with Scholz had been very good, and that the atmosphere was objective and constructive. There was talk of an "intensive exchange" on a wide range of migration issues.

There were no concrete results or decisions. The conversation was not conclusive, it was said from Merz's environment. Confidentiality had been agreed on details.

At a previous meeting with Scholz on October 13, Merz had presented the CDU/CSU's own catalogue of demands "to limit illegal migration." In response to the question of why Scholz had met the Union representatives in the first place, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said that migration was about social peace – and therefore also about "hearing and listening to each other".

Meeting with country leaders on Monday

The traffic light needs the federal states, but not the opposition in the Bundestag, to push through legislative projects. Scholz had stressed, however, that in view of the politically sensitive issue of migration, it would be desirable for the federal government, states, municipalities and the opposition Union to close ranks.

As early as the beginning of next week, it could become clear whether this closing of ranks is realistic. The Conference of Minister-Presidents (MPK) will take place on Monday. Initially, the heads of the federal states will discuss on their own, and in the afternoon there will be discussions with Scholz and the federal government.

In all likelihood, the issue of migration will be the most contentious at the meeting. Specifically, it is about burden-sharing in the costs of accommodation and integration of refugees. From the point of view of the states and municipalities, the federal government is shirking its responsibility. From the point of view of the federal government, the states are making completely exaggerated demands.

There has been no rapprochement on the issue for months, so a controversial debate on Monday is predetermined. In a draft of the draft resolution on the subject of migration, which is available to SPIEGEL, it is so far only succinctly stated that there are different views on the question of financial burden-sharing – everything else is to be discussed on Monday.

Because of the issue of migration alone, a long meeting is considered likely. And there are other topics on the agenda. For example, the federal and state governments want to speed up the planning, approval and execution of public and private projects, such as rail expansion, the energy transition or mobile communications. Scholz had brought this into the debate under the heading of "Germany pace".

There is also a draft for the MPK (read more about it here). But even here there are still controversial points – and the agenda is so ambitious and extensive that it would also fill an evening if discussed in detail.

In addition, transport politicians from the chancellor's party SPD are putting pressure on them because they fear the end of the Deutschlandticket. In an appeal to the federal and state governments, which SPIEGEL has obtained, they call for "the Deutschlandticket to be continued as a successful project." A political decision on financing is "urgently needed". The MPK on Monday is the latest possible date for this – otherwise the 49-euro ticket will end on 31 December. Even if it were to continue, without further commitments, there would be a risk of a significantly higher price from May 2024, which would make the offer less attractive.

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