German Greens Would Give Payment Cards to Asylum Seekers Without Change in Legislation

The German Bundestag

The payment card, planned to be given for asylum seekers is causing a row in the traffic light coalition in Germany. The focus point of the debate is whether federal legislation is necessary for the introduction of the card.
Representatives of the FDP and SPD parliamentary groups as well as the head of the Conference of Minister Presidents (MPK), Hesse’s Minister President Boris Rhein (CDU), spoke out in favor of this at the weekend. The Greens in the Bundestag, on the other hand, consider the existing legal options to be sufficient.

Kubicki threatens to suspend the coalition

FDP parliamentary group deputy Wolfgang Kubicki threatened to break the coalition. He told Bild: “If the Greens actually torpedo this minimally invasive intervention in the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act, this will call into question the continuation of the coalition.”

As the German Press Agency (dpa) points out, at the end of January, 14 out of 16 federal states agreed on a joint allocation procedure for the introduction of a payment card for asylum seekers, which should be completed by the summer. One of the aims of the card is to prevent refugees from transferring money to smugglers or to their family or friends abroad.

The deputy parliamentary leader of the FDP, Konstantin Kuhle, said that the federal government should expand the legal basis for the use of payment cards. “This includes, for example, removing the priority of cash benefits for accommodation outside of reception facilities. This will make payment cards usable in more constellations and thus facilitate the nationwide introduction of payment cards.

Criticism of the Greens

Sebastian Hartmann, SPD politician for internal affairs, said that the Federal Ministry of Labor had already delivered a formulation that was ready for a decision.

FDP leader Christian Lindner called the resistance of the Greens surprising. “The Greens must not jeopardize a consensus between all democratic parties,” he told the Münchner Merkur newspaper. The payment card could contribute to a considerable number of asylum seekers leaving the country “because our welfare state is suddenly no longer so attractive”.

In contrast, Andreas Audretsch, deputy parliamentary group leader of the Greens, said: “It was a common position in the coalition that the federal states could introduce the payment card with legal certainty. Various states such as Hamburg and Bavaria are already doing this. Changes are therefore not necessary and have not been agreed. We are not available for chaos, distraction debates and poor management from the Chancellery.”

Scholz has to Answer the Calls

MPK leader Boris Rhein accused the Greens of a “blockade” and demanded that Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) put his foot down. “The Chancellor must now put his foot down for a realpolitik course for his coalition concerning migration,” he told the German Press Agency. The payment card is an important step “to reduce incentives for irregular migration, prevent abuse of asylum benefits and combat smugglers”.


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