The results of the refugee summit can be read on sixteen pages. However, the interpretation and course of the evening in the Chancellery is debatable. There is the question of whether the meeting was "very good and constructive", as Chancellor Olaf Scholz pointed out during the press conference. Or whether it was "the difficult talks that everyone had expected in advance" and then they "pulled themselves together," as Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil, who, like Scholz, belongs to the SPD, described it.
Political correspondent in Berlin.
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Head of the parliamentary editorial office in Berlin.
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And then the results. When Scholz spoke, one could get the impression that a deportation offensive had been decided in long consultations. The Chancellor began by describing the "great task we face". Anyone who suspected this to be a breakthrough in the financial dispute that has been going on for months between the federal and state governments was mistaken. Scholz was referring to the measures to control irregular migration and "of course also to limit it".
He listed all sorts of things, few of which were new. The migration partnerships are one of them, which is to be negotiated by a special representative appointed by the German government in February. These attempts have been around for years, and so far the successes have been modest. Scholz expects that things will now "progress very quickly".
He spoke about securing the EU's external borders and controls at the border with Austria. Exit custody is to be extended from ten to 28 days, and Moldova and Georgia are to become safe countries of origin – even if the word does not appear in the paper, out of consideration for the Greens. "A very comprehensive and very clear package of measures," Scholz summed up.
No result, that would be a fatal signal
The representatives of the countries are amused by this depiction. "We didn't talk about this package for four minutes," says one who was there. Stephan Weil, who is also chairman of the Conference of Minister-Presidents, put it a little more diplomatically on Wednesday evening: "The focus was, of course, on the question of financial burden sharing." The federal and state governments have been arguing about this point for months, and the tone had recently become sharp.
In circles of the federal government, there was talk of "sticky hands" of the states, which did not pass on the money to the ailing municipalities. The states accused the federal government of not living up to its responsibility. So it went back and forth. First in background discussions, then in public. Hendrik Wüst, North Rhine-Westphalia's Prime Minister, had accused the federal government at the beginning of the week of dismissing "the cries for help from cities and municipalities".
Thus, the federal and state governments had completely wedged themselves together. The ideas in terms of content were also far apart: The federal government did not want to add anything to the previous sum of 2.75 billion for this year. The countries don't just want more, they want a change of system. Instead of a lump sum from the federal government, they want the financial support to be based on the actual number of refugees, the so-called breathing system. There is still no consensus on this. It is to be discussed again at the Minister-Presidents' Conference in June, and a decision is to be made next November.