Balanced Budget

Vague About True Cost of Refugees

refugees in Berlin_lageso_Michael Kappeler_dpa
Refugees standing in front of Berlin's registration center.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The German government is reluctant to discuss the true cost of integrating refugees.

  • Facts


    • Finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble has prided himself in the past on making sure  government expenditure does not exceed income.
    • His famous balanced budget was thrown off kilter by the refugee crisis and he now forecasts that in 2016,  the government will spend €16 billion than it takes in.
    • Germany has received one million refugees in 2015.
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As finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, takes pride in keeping an eye on the details. But when it comes to the cost of registering, housing and integrating the one million refugees that are thought to have arrived in Germany this year alone. Mr. Schäuble is keeping things vague.

He told the German parliament his ministry is proceeding “with some caution” when it comes to budget planning over the issue.

There are government estimates over how many refugees can Germany expect in the coming years, and what are the estimated costs of coping with the refugee crisis, but these figures are are a tightly guarded secret.

Someone must have made the calculations, because Mr. Schäuble has to present the European Commission with a financial plan to confirm Germany is meeting European Union budget requirements. But the Stability Council which oversees the German government budget, wrote in a report that the projection submitted by Mr. Schäuble is difficult to evaluate, because “important information is not provided.”

That information, according to the council, includes data on the concrete impact of the projected influx of migrants and refugees on overall economic development and government finances, as well as the medium-term outlook for individual levels of the government. For instance, Mr. Schäuble has failed to specify whether he intends to balance the federal budget in 2017, an election year.

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