Germany’s Finance Minister admits ‘mistakes’ in refugee policy

Germany made mistakes with an open-door policy that saw more than a million migrants enter Germany over the past two years, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble acknowledged on Sunday, but he said Berlin was trying to learn from those missteps.

“We have tried to improve what got away from us in 2015,” Schaeuble told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag. “We politicians are human; we also make mistakes. But one can at least learn from them.”

Schaeuble is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, who have lost support to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party over the migration issue, after several attacks carried out by migrants.

The AfD is now poised to become the third largest party in parliament in September national elections.

The issue has also divided the European Union, with many countries balking at taking in a proportional share of refugees.

Schaeuble said Europe needed to consider harmonising its social benefits to achieve a more equitable distribution of migrants among EU members, a subject that he said had thus far been considered “taboo” in Germany.

“We have much higher standards when it comes to social benefits than most European countries. That’s why so many want to come to Germany,” he told the newspaper.

Schaeuble also said he was skeptical about the leadership style of the U.S. President Donald Trump, who has sparked concerns among European leaders with executive orders on immigration, as well as his decision to cancel trade agreements.

“In America, we can now see how someone is acting as if he can do everything very quickly. That will not only have good results,” he said.

A poll conducted earlier this month showed that refugee policy would be the biggest issue for voters in the September election.