Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has planned to pay £76m of cash incentives for immigrants to leave voluntarily.
The administration will offer cash handouts worth millions of pounds for migrants to leave Germany in an effort to silence criticism of her ‘open-door’ border policy.
In a highly-embarrassing U-turn over the ill-fated plan, which saw 1.2million migrants flock to the country, Mrs Merkel has now vowed to send many of them home.
The German chancellor agreed a package of measures to speed up the deportation process for an estimated 450,000 migrants who have been rejected asylum.
The controversial plan, which marks a significant toughening of previous proposals, includes a £76million scheme that will offer migrants cash incentives to leave Germany voluntarily.
Many will see the move as a desperate attempt for Miss Merkel to claw back support ahead of her challenging re-election bid in September.
Criticism of her decision to leave Germany’s borders open and welcome all refugees during Europe’s migration crisis in 2015 has led to a surge in support for anti-immigrant parties.
Flaws in the open borders system were highlighted in the aftermath of last year’s Christmas market attack in Berlin when it was revealed that Tunisian terrorist Anis Amri had been denied asylum months earlier.
The plans agreed by Miss Merkel will allow officials to analyse asylum seekers’ telephones in an attempt to verify their identity, while rules for detaining migrants will be widened.
The proposed crackdown, which has been criticised by human rights groups, will also include the creation of a department in Berlin to co-ordinate mass deportations.
As part of the 16-point plan, a number of ‘federal departure centres’ will also be established near airports to hold migrants before they are deported.
Miss Merkel admitted that relying solely on migrants putting themselves forward for deportation would fail to tackle the huge backlog of rejected requests.
‘We rely heavily on voluntary departures, but we know that voluntary departures will not take place if people know that there is never a mandatory return to their home country,’ she said.
The deal was agreed with Germany’s 16 regional governors, who are largely responsible for orchestrating deportations.
Current measures have left officials struggling to deport those whose asylum requests are rejected, largely because they come from areas deemed to be safe, unlike war-torn countries such as Syria.
Of the 170,000 applications that were rejected last year, 55,000 decided to leave voluntarily and a further 26,000 were repatriated.
Officials believe that the total number of failed asylum seekers could reach 450,000 by the end of the year if the proposed measures are not pushed through.
While unlikely to fall foul of EU laws, the measures will trouble officials in Brussels who expressed concerns this week that some member states were turning their backs on migrants.
In a further departure, Germany also looked headed for another collision with the EU after announcing plans to cut child benefits for EU migrants yesterday.
It wants to follow concessions previously won by the UK to cut its large bill for children who reside in their home country but whose parents work in the Germany, saving around £136m per year.