Germany tightens its asylum laws

The German government and the 16 state leaders have agreed on an asylum reform to reduce the number of refugees coming to Germany. Under the reform, the pace of bureaucratic procedures and deportations ist to be stepped up and refugees will receive a payment card instead of cash and reduced social benefits for a longer period. In addition the possibility of outsourcing asylum procedures will be examined. Does this mark another turning point for the country?

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Večernji list (HR) /

A major U-turn

Germany is tightening its rather liberal immigration policy, Večernji list surmises:

“Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed on Tuesday morning at a meeting with the state premiers on a stricter immigration policy aimed at reducing the number of asylum seekers in the country. In a major U-turn which Berlin has been working on in recent months, the country is saying openly that it wants to be less of a magnet for migrants, of which there are too many, especially in Berlin, after taking a very liberal approach to migration until a few months ago. ... Scholz called the agreement with the premiers a 'historic moment', which shows how politically sensitive the issue has become.”

Der Standard (AT) /

This is just the beginning

Der Standard predicts that even after the deal, the asylum issue will continue to be a big topic in Germany:

“They managed to reach a deal, and that's good news, given that the positions were and still are very different. ... The AfD's high poll ratings traffic are also putting the traffic light coalition and the CDU/CSU under pressure. The CDU/CSU was therefore aiming for a tougher stance, while the other coalition partners were hitting the brakes. The result is not the major 'turnaround on asylum' many had demanded. Instead a large number of individual measures will be implemented. ... Nevertheless, it must be clear to everyone: this was just the beginning, and the topic of asylum will continue to feature high on the German political agenda for a long time to come.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

The mood will worsen

Despite its underlying logic of deterrence the package of resolutions will not reduce the number of immigrants, the Frankfurter Rundschau is convinced:

“After all, the crises and wars that force people to flee are still there. ... We can only ensure humanity and order by organising immigration in an accepting manner. By taking further steps to open up the labour market to refugees beyond those planned by the traffic light coalition; by investing massively in integration and education instead of making huge cuts; by pursuing a clear strategy for more legal immigration. The fact that the opposite is now happening does not bode well for the mood in the country.”

Ouest-France (FR) /

France is in a similar situation

Ouest-France writes:

“Berlin's 180-degree turnaround reflects a turnaround in public opinion on the other side of the Rhine. ... The downturn in the German economy has taken its toll, as have the successes of the far right in the most recent regional elections. The scale of the pro-Palestinian demonstrations and the explosion in antisemitic acts since Hamas's attack on Israel have also likely had an impact. ... It's as if the fear of 'importing' the conflict now outweighs the need for foreign labour in our neighbouring country with its ageing population. France is prey to similar fears and is following the same path. The same mechanisms are at work here, reinforced by the horror of the Islamist attack in Arras, prompting a similar change of outlook.”