[1/29/17] Berlin made mistakes with its “open-door” refugee policy, which “went off course” and saw hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers entering the country over the past two years, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble admits.
The German government is currently trying “to improve what went off course in 2015,” Schaeuble told Die Welt’s Sunday edition in an interview. “We politicians are human beings and we also make mistakes, but one can at least learn from them,” he maintained.
On Friday, Handelsblatt cited a Finance Ministry report that shows Germany spent €21.7 billion ($23.3 billion) on tackling the refugee crisis in 2016. Most of the money went to German states and municipalities, which received €9.3 billion last year, while measures to integrate refugees received €2.1 billion in funding.
The straightforward statement comes on the heels of the severe refugee crisis that struck Germany in 2015. According to recent government figures, the country took in hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers, many of whom arrived through the infamous ‘Balkan route’ stretching from Turkey’s Aegean shores to central Europe.
From 2015 on, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government maintained what is now known as an “open-door” policy, despite an avalanche of criticism from the public. Last year, some members of Merkel’s cabinet began challenging the policy, with some suggesting a more selective approach.
Later that year, the German government introduced a package of measures – otherwise known as “Asylum package II” (Asylpaket II) – which included putting limits on the number of asylum seekers admitted to the country and a roadmap for integrating those already in Germany.
Germany subsequently broadened the list of the so-called “safe” third countries in order to accelerate the deportation of failed asylum applicants.