Germany welcomed nearly a million immigrants at the height of the refugee crisis in Europe in 2015. Finance Ministry figures, published in German media this week, show that 300,000 of them receive a monthly 450 euros ($502) in unemployment benefits under the Hartz IV system.
The $25 billion in question was spent on a two-pronged policy to integrate the arrived migrants while keeping thousands more at bay by containing them in the countries of origin outside Europe. The latter cost made up a third of the net total spent on the migrant policy in 2018, a 16 percent hike from the year before.
The immigration flow is much lower now than at the height of the Syrian war, but the cost of integration for Germany looks set to increase in the coming years. Chancellor Angela Merkel made that clear last week when she said that Germany must be a country of immigration and of integration.
The German government reserved 17 billion euros for the migration policy in its 2016 budget but the expenses have already exceeded the estimates and may climb even higher if security costs are factored in to counter Islamist extremists in this population.
A new integration law, passed in 2016, established integration classes, allowing asylum seekers with a high likelihood of receiving protection to begin learning German while their claim is pending.
Access to the labour market has also become easier after the federal employment agency began hiring asylum seekers with pending applications, while another law gave migrants protection from deportation if they undergo vocational training, in an attempt to integrate them.
But the reality is that almost two-thirds of those who came to the country through Merkel’s "irresponsible" open-border policy claim the Hartz IV financial support, according to Alternative for Germany (AfD) party spokesman Alexander Gauland.
"For years, this means an incalculable financial burden on German taxpayers. The German citizens, who have and will have to bear the costs and consequences of uncontrolled mass immigration, have a right to see their worries taken seriously," he told Sputnik.
The state employment agency, he said, has accumulated a reserve of 11 billion euros after years of achieving a surplus, and the government has said it is tempted to use the billions accumulated by German taxpayers to pay for qualification courses for migrants.
"These billions do not belong to Merkel… It is the piggy bank of all contributors… If there are unused reserves in the unemployment insurance fund, let’s halve the contributions immediately," he suggested.
German economist Bernd Raffelhueschen from Freiburg University has estimated that the migrant policy and the integration will cost the German economy nearly a trillion euros. The long-term costs threaten to soar to 1.5 trillion euros depending on how well the second generation fits in.
NEGATIVE NET CONTRIBUTION
A study of the budgetary impact of 30 years of immigration for France by Xavier Chojnicki, a professor of economy at France’s Lille University, showed it to be negative. The net contribution is calculated as the difference between taxes, contributions and miscellaneous taxes that immigrants pay to the public finances and all the benefits they derive from them.
"We show that the net contribution of immigrants has generally been negative over the entire period, but that it has never been at the origin of the primary deficit of France. Their contribution has always remained contained within ± 0.5% of GDP," he told Sputnik.
This relative neutrality of the immigrant population, he said, is explained by a favorable demographic structure, which offsets their lower individual net contribution.
Immigrant workers were much more affected than native assets during the 2008 financial crisis, especially the medium and highly skilled ones. Immigrants accounted for more that 17 percent of the primary deficit per capita in France in 2011, compared to their share in the total population. significantly and join that of immigrants from countries outside the European Union.
"The German case is unique in Europe, since it implies such a high influx of migrants in a very short time. I expect that with the peak of immigration in Germany and the time it takes for them to learn the language and learn a job before entering the job market will be a very high and recurrent initial cost for Germany," Chojnicki predicted.
HIDDEN COSTS OF IMMIGRATION
Filip Dewinter, a member of the Belgian federal parliament, told Sputnik that Belgian and German governments "cheated" the citizens by "forgetting" to include in their calculations the fact that immigrants never paid the costs of education, defense, energy, administration, and the like.
"They remain net receivers. Worse: they are allowed to bring in their wives, children, parents, and all these people will not work here, and will be a higher than normal cost to society than those who work," he said.
Germany allows refugees to bring in their immediate family within four years of obtaining the status. Figures disclosed by the Interior Ministry show 4.8 new migrants are expected to come to Germany for each accepted asylum-seeker.
"In reality, they cost 4 or 5 times more than admitted by the authorities… And that is not all: no European country is capable of expelling those that are denied asylum, so they enter the black economy, particularly destructive to jobs," Dewinter noted.
Germany’s employment agency statistics show that 86 percent of workers from asylum-origin countries are unskilled and compete with native Germans for the few low-wage job offerings on the market.
"The massive immigration of unskilled people is at the expense of German low-wage earners, who have to compete with the newcomers for the few job opportunities and are displaced by these imported low-priced competitors," Alice Weidel, the AfD leader in the German parliament, told Sputnik.
"This is even more true when the economy continues to weaken and ultimately collapse under the ever-increasing burdens imposed on companies by the political world. Then the temporary workers and low-income earners will probably be the first to lose their jobs and land in the Hartz IV system," she said.
In fact, 55 percent of those getting the Hartz IV unemployment benefit in Germany in April last year had a migration background. The employment agency explained it by the fact that migrants lacked employable skills or knowledge of the language.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's position.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.