Germany’s economy grew fractionally faster last year than the average of the last decade, and that could be good news for hundreds of thousands of refugees currently living in the country. The German economy grew by 1.7 percent in 2015, the Local reported, putting the gross domestic product in excess of 3 trillion euros for the first time ever.
The surplus was expected to mostly go toward covering the cost of refugees as Germany expects at least 800,000 more to arrive to Germany this year, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said. Current government plans project spending $8.7 billion on refugees.
Schäuble said in Berlin Wednesday Germany “will urgently need the reserve to finance the additional services in accommodating and integrating the refugees,” the Local reported.
Germany has taken more refugees than any other country in Europe, and the country’s vice chancellor has said Germany can handle as many as a million refugees per year. Refugees, many of them from war-torn Syria, have received a generally warm welcome in Germany although the country, as elsewhere in Europe, has seen some backlash. Right-wing and anti-Islam groups have staged protests, arguing refugees pose a safety concern to Europe.
Concern about the influx of refugees has risen in recent weeks. A recent survey found that two-thirds of Germans polled said the number of asylum seekers in the country was too high. Just 16 percent of Germans said they felt comfortable with the number of people seeking a new life in the country. The survey was conducted after an unprecedented surge in sexual assaults that has been blamed on migrants in Cologne.
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas has said laws will be revised to make it easier to deport foreign criminals. Cologne police said they received hundreds of criminal complaints New Year’s Eve, many of them from women reporting to have been sexually assaulted or robbed by gangs of men who appeared to be from the Middle East or North Africa. The incidents ignited a debate over the future of refugees in the country.