Merkel's `We'll make it' on refugees backed by German economists

Merkel's `We'll make it' on refugees backed by German economistsGerman economists backed Chancellor Angela Merkel in saying Europe’s biggest economy is strong enough to handle a record influx of refugees, even as her government reinstated European Union rules that may lead to more deportations.

Germany will have to increase public spending on direct aid to refugees by as much as 22.6 billion euros ($24 billion) for this year and next, though it will still run a budget surplus both years, Merkel’s council of economic advisers said in a report Wednesday. Refugees who stay in Germany will probably make a “moderate” contribution to the economy in the medium term, according to the panel of five economists.

“Given strong public finances and broad scope for efficiency-enhancing economic policy, foreseeable additional refugee-related expenditures appear manageable,” the group said.

Merkel is counting on Germany’s economic strength as this year’s arrival of at least 800,000 asylum seekers, including many fleeing Syria’s civil war, stokes conflict in her governing coalition and with European partners. Faced with domestic resistance to the influx, Merkel has said Germany can’t close its borders and repeatedly said “we’ll make it.”

Germany has reinstated asylum rules known as the Dublin system, deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said Wednesday, after suspending them in August for Syrians. The rules, which broke down in this year’s crisis, require EU countries to register and hold asylum seekers as they arrive to keep them from traveling to a country of their choice. Those who make it further can be sent back to the EU country where they first arrived.

German dilemma

Underscoring the struggle by Merkel’s three-party government to balance humanitarian concern and border control, Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth declined to specify how many asylum seekers Germany might now deport.

“It’s not about kicking anybody out,” Wirtz said. “It’s basically about applying European law.”

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, said he’s decided to bar family members from joining refugees in Germany pending approval by the Social Democrats, the junior coalition partner.

“Many refugees claim to be Syrians when they aren’t,” and 6,000 to 10,000 refugees are arriving daily, de Maiziere said in a speech to parliament in Berlin. “All of this is cause for concern. That’s why we need to act.”

Support for Merkel’s CDU-led party bloc rose 2 percentage points to 38 percent in a weekly poll, while the SPD gained 1 percentage point to 25 percent. The Nov. 2-6 Forsa poll for broadcaster RTL and Stern magazine has a margin of error of as many as 3 percentage points.

Source: Bloomberg
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