Merkel denies rumours of new tax to pay for refugees

Angela Merkel [European Council]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday (11 October) ruled out tax increases to help deal with the biggest influx of refugees since World War Two.

“We can be glad that our economy has been well managed for years and that our economic situation is currently good,” Merkel said in an advance preview of an interview to be published in Bild today.

Asked whether she could give her word that there would be no tax increases in connection with the refugee crisis, Merkel replied: “Yes, definitely.”

On Saturday (10 October), the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that the German government and the European Commission were mulling a solidarity tax to help cover the costs of handling a record-breaking influx of asylum seekers.

German and EU officials denied the report.

With relatively liberal asylum laws and generous benefits, Germany is the EU’s biggest recipient of people fleeing war in the Middle East and economic migrants from southeastern Europe.

On Sunday, Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said Germany could expect to receive more than a million refugees this year.

Merkel said “misplaced incentives” might be attracting migrants seeking to benefit from its welfare system.

“I know that the pocket money that we give refugees is high by European standards,” she said, adding that countries such as the Netherlands and Luxembourg handed out “significantly less”.

She said refugees at centres for new arrivals should predominantly get non-cash benefits in the future.

Merkel told Bild that a new law that will reduce benefits to minimum subsistence levels if asylum applications are rejected should come into force in November.

On Sunday a European Commission spokesman rejected the claim saying: ‘There is no such proposal currently on the table or under preparation and the Commission never comments on rumors in the press.’ 

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