Agreement on German migrant family plan
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday agreed on rules to allow a limited number of family members to join migrants in Germany, ending a long-standing dispute between the parties in her two-month-old right-left coalition.
The issue had dogged relations between Merkel’s conservative bloc and the Social Democrats in the coalition talks and in government. There are also divisions among the conservatives, with the Bavarian CSU taking a harder line than Merkel’s CDU.
Under the new rules, 1,000 close relatives of people with ‘subsidiary status,’ who enjoy a lesser degree of protection than those granted full refugee status, can move to Germany per month on humanitarian grounds from August. This applies to spouses, minors and the parents of minors.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a Bavarian conservative, said the draft law was a “responsible balance” between the government’s duty to keep families together and the authorities’ capacity to cope with large numbers of migrants.
“In this difficult area, we (coalition parties) have shown that we can work effectively together to steer and manage migration and also to set limits,” said Seehofer.
More than 1.6 million migrants have arrived in Germany since 2014, many fleeing wars in the Middle East, causing concern about integration problems in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy.
Under pressure to limit new arrivals, Merkel’s government suspended family reunions in March 2016, a move that especially affected Syrians.