Berlin will not go it alone in accepting refugees from Greece for the time being. According to an agreement at the federal level, a spokesman for the interior administration said that such a move was “not effective at present,” rejecting a request from the Refugee Council. This had pointed out that there are now two legal opinions, according to which the federal states can accept refugees without the consent of the Federal Minister of the Interior. “We expect the Senate to examine this possibility intensively and to enforce it against the federal government,” said Martina Mauer from the refugee council.

On March 8, after long hesitation, the federal government agreed to accept 1,000 to 1,500 unaccompanied minor refugees from the Greek islands if other EU countries participated. Interior senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) then declared that the capital could hold 80 to 100. Integration Senator Elke Breitenbach (left) had criticized the agreement. Berlin and numerous other cities that would have agreed to do so, for example as part of the “Safe Harbors” campaign, could supply many more refugees. Berlin alone has around 2,000 places available.

Until now, it had always been said that the federal states and municipalities were dependent on the approval of Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer for admission. The two mentioned reports, one commissioned by green MEP Erik Marquardt and one by a lawyer from the University of Hamburg, on the other hand, show that the states can do this alone for humanitarian reasons – especially when it comes to traveling alone Children and adolescents or particularly vulnerable groups such as single women.


The Senate does not yet seem to have a final opinion on the reports. While the integration administration declares on request that “it is currently being checked whether they apply to Berlin”, the interior administration stated, “according to the express wording of the law”, a prerequisite is the “agreement of the BMI”.

The internal administration also rejects the Refugee Council’s further proposal that Berlin accepts more refugees than previously agreed. It is about the admission programs of the State of Berlin for people from Iraq and Syria who have relatives in Berlin. According to the Refugee Council, catching up, for example from Turkey, often fails due to the high financial hurdles: To be able to bring only one family member to Berlin, relatives living here would have to prove a net salary of at least 2,300 euros. Mauer: “If the income requirements for the program, which were far too high, were lowered, many more people could take advantage of this possibility of safe entry. They were spared the dangerous way across the sea and the Greek slum camps. ”

The interior administration replies that it is a legal requirement that the living expenses for the person to be admitted are secured.

” The federal legislature has attached importance to this requirement of fundamental state interest,” said the spokesman. Nevertheless, Berlin had made it easier to meet the financial requirements for the two-state programs by ” dispensing with the requirement of proof of health and long-term care insurance”. Also, not only relatives but also third parties could make a declaration of commitment in Berlin “that covers living expenses and living space”. A further reduction in the requirements was “currently not being considered” and also required the approval of the BMI.

According to the interior administration, Berlin has issued a visa to 1,145 people since the beginning of the state admission program for Syrian and Iraqi refugees (as of January 31, 2020).

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