During her budget speech in the Bundestag, she spoke about migration, digital infrastructure and the first 100 days in office of the Federal Government.
The budget debate takes place in times of controversial and emotional social debates. It is important to carry out these debates. “Because it is about the future of Germany and Europe,” said Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Federal Government wants to solve social issues in a way that increases solidarity in Society.
Europe: working together to solve the migration issue
When it comes to migration, there are different interests in the EU. But the member states have agreed that the challenge concerns us all. The answers must comply with our values and the law. They must show solidarity and be realistic. How we deal with the issue of migration determines whether or not Europe has a future.
There are now fewer refugees arriving across the Mediterranean. The protection of Europe’s external borders remains a priority. The Frontex mission will be expanded. 10,000 police officers from EU countries will be deployed. Germany will make its fair contribution. The agreement with Turkey has stood the test of time: “We have released the second tranche of payments. Turkey is doing great work in supporting the refugees,” according to Merkel.
Migration is a global issue and requires global solutions. “We need a new pact for Africa,” said Merkel. 500 million Euros has been approved for the EU Trust Fund. The question is whether agreements can be made with African countries, so that refugees remain in those countries.
More order in migration
“There needs to be more order in all types of migration,” Merkel said. It cannot be allowed that the refugees determine where their request for asylum is processed. An immigration law for skilled workers will spell out clearly where our interests lie. Regarding integration, the Federal Government will continue to play its part - “This is reflected in the budget,” declared the Chancellor. The Federal Minister of the Interior’s plan will serve as the basis for the integration efforts.
“The smooth functioning of the global economy depends on the fact that we work together in partnership. Germany will pursue this,” said Merkel with a view to the trade conflict with the USA. The Federal Government remains committed to cooperation in the framework of the WTO, G20, G7 and NATO.
Germany is a reliable partner in NATO and provides the second largest number of troops. The expenditure on defence and development policy is increasing. “Not to prepare for defending the alliance would be negligent,” according to Merkel.
Fast Internet access for all by 2025
Digitalisation “is changing the way we live and work,” said Merkel. The technical development and the infrastructure are important, but data protection is also of great significance. The Federal Government has reacted with appropriate structural change, introducing a Minister of State for Digitalisation, a Digital Cabinet and a Data Ethics Commission.
The Federal Government is also responding to the fears and anxieties of the people regarding their employment - for example, by means of a national training strategy. Regarding artificial intelligence, a comprehensive strategy is required, covering research right through to application. There should be fast Internet access for all by 2025.
Positive results after the first 100 days
Merkel summed up as follows: the Federal Government has been in office for more than 100 days. The 2018 budget has been approved, and doesn't envisage any new debt. The unemployment rate is low, and there are regions with full employment. Wage growth is good, and the minimum wage is increasing. Pensions are rising significantly this year. The Federal Government has agreed on a higher basic tax-free amount, the reversal of bracket creep, and equal contributions to health insurance. The return from part-time to full-time employment has been newly regulated. “The Federal Government is working hard, but there is still much to be done,” concluded the Chancellor.