German Housing and Labour Ministers Demand Nearly €2bn To Integrate Migrants

Senior members of Chancellor Merkel’s governing grand coalition have demanded steep rises in their departmental budgets in order to house, employ and integrate migrants coming to Europe.

Barbara Hendricks, the Federal Housing Minister in Germany’s government, today called for a massive increase of €1.3 billion in her departmental budget for migrant accommodation and city development projects, reports Deutsche Welle (DW). In doing so the senior member of the centre-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) added her voice to others calling for more public expenditure to deal with the ongoing migrant crisis that saw more than a million migrants applying for asylum last year.

Ms. Hendricks stated her belief that affordable housing for all in Germany is key to the success of attempts to integrate migrants. She told the Funke Mediengruppe she wants “to prevent competition from arising between natives and refugees for housing,” adding that “whether integration is working or not will be decided in our cities and towns.”

The Housing Ministers’s demand comes one day after a fellow government minister and member of the centre-left SPD made her own case for extra taxpayers’ money to be spent in her department.

Andrea Nahles of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs asked for nearly half a billion euros to be made available for the creation of 100,000 jobs for successful asylum seekers, in the absence of which she says long-term unemployment would ensue for both migrants and Germans. Explaining why the money needed is in addition to her existing departmental budget, she said:

“So far, people have had to sit around with nothing to do for 12 months at a time. This creates tension for everyone. We must act as quickly as possible…

“We cannot take away from the long-term unemployment funds. Otherwise, it creates predatory competition, stoking fears, instead of reducing them. Therefore, we need additional funds for the integration of refugees.”

The two SPD ministers will have a fight on their hands when dealing with their government’s Federal Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schäuble of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union. Seen as one of Chancellor Merkel’s more fiscally conservative ministers, Mr. Schäuble may be unwilling to throw expenditure about in light of his soon-to-be-published long-term financial analsyis.

DW says the report, which will be released in Sunday’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper, will painted a bleak picture of the eurozone in general, and the German domestic economy and its national debt in particular.

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