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Refugee accommodation in Leipzig (2023): "The federal government is responsible for the lack of limitation and control"

Photo: Sebastian Willnow / dpa

When Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) meets with the 16 state premiers on Monday, the issue of migration is likely to be the most controversial on the agenda. For months, there has been no agreement on who will bear the costs for refugees. Now the municipalities have once again demanded relief, and a complete one. Top representatives have called on the federal and state governments to pay for the entire refugee costs in the future. "We expect the federal and state governments to fully cover the costs of accommodation, food and integration of the people who have fled to Germany," Gerd Landsberg, chief executive of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, told Handelsblatt.

"The federal government is responsible for the lack of limitation and control of immigration and thus the considerable increase in costs at the municipal level," said the president of the district council, Reinhard Sager, the newspaper. "In relation to Ukrainian refugees, for example, housing costs continue to rise and are highly dynamic." Benefits for asylum seekers also increased, especially in the rural districts. "The federal and state governments must bear these costs," Sager demanded.

Controversial debate foreshadowed

The Conference of Minister-Presidents (MPK) will take place on Monday. Initially, the heads of the federal states will discuss on their own, then in the afternoon they will discuss with Scholz and the federal government. The discussion is deadlocked. 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.

The issue is set for a controversial debate on Monday. 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.

At the top meeting of the federal and state governments this Monday in Berlin, cities and municipalities expect "a corresponding commitment to the municipalities," as association representative Landsberg put it with reference to the assumption of costs. However, it is unlikely that it will be so concrete.

However, it is likely to show what progress a meeting between Scholz and opposition leader Friedrich Merz (CDU) on Friday has brought. Merz was in the Chancellery with CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt. There was talk of an "intensive exchange" on a wide range of migration issues. No concrete details were disclosed.

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. However, it doesn't look like that so far.