Constitutional Constraints for a Reform of the German Law on Social Benefits for Asylum Applicants and Returnees

A German specificity are judgments of the German constitutional court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) interpreting the constitution’s human dignity clause, read in conjunction with the provision on the welfare state, as an individual human right to receive social benefits at a level to be determined by the legislature in accordance with detailed constitutional prescriptions. Several judgments have obliged the German parliament to increase the level of social assistance for asylum applicants and returnees to the amount available for nationals. As a result, the level of social benefits for returnees, in particular, is much higher in Germany than in any other European country. In response to an emerging domestic debate, Daniel Thym discusses the room for manoeuvre in an interview with the newspaper DIE WELT (‘Abschaffung der Sozialhilfe für Mehrfach-Asylbewerber möglich’). His comments also takes centre stage in an article of the FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINEN ZEITUNG (’Wo im Asylsystem gekürzt werden könnte’). The Expert Opinion mentioned therein can be found online on the academic repository SSRN (in German).