Germany: Federal Constitutional Court deems material reception conditions for asylum seekers in Germany unconstitutional

Friday, October 4, 2013

On 18/07/2012, the German Federal Constitutional Court pronounced its judgment on submissions of the Higher Social Court of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (Landessozialgericht Nordrhein-Westfalen) on the question whether the cash benefits paid according to the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz – AsylbLG) to secure the recipients’ existence are constitutional.

The First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court decided that the provisions governing basic cash benefits according to the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act are incompatible with the fundamental right to a minimum existence, protected as human dignity in Article 1 sec. 1 in conjunction with Article 20 sec. 1 of the Basic Law. The benefits are evidently insufficient because they have not been changed since 1993 despite considerable price increases in Germany. Furthermore, the amounts provided have not been comprehensibly calculated, nor is it apparent that a realistic, needs-oriented calculation has been made that serves to presently secure the recipients’ existence. The legislature is obliged to immediately enact new provisions in the area of application of the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act which serve to secure a dignified minimum existence. Because of the importance of basic benefits to secure the recipients’ lives, the Federal Constitutional Court has ordered a transitional arrangement that will apply until new provisions enter into force. Pursuant to this transitional arrangement, from 1 January 2011 onwards, basic benefits in the area of application of the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act shall be calculated based on the generally applicable provisions regarding the Second and Twelfth Book of the Code of Social Law (Zweites und Zwölftes Buch des Sozialgesetzbuches). This shall apply retroactively from 2011 onwards to benefits that have been set but are still disputed; furthermore, it shall apply until the legislature has complied with its obligation to enact new provisions. 

For a summary of the judgment in English please visit: Federal Constitutional Court: Press Office: Provisions governing basic cash benefits provided for in the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act held unconstitutional

For relevant articles on this case please visit: ProAsyl: German Constitutional Court deems material reception conditions for asylum seekers in Germany unconstitutional , OSAR: L’aide sociale pour les requérants d’asile en Allemagne contraire à la dignité humaine, Deutsche Welle: New ruling on asylum seekers in Germany
and Welfare Society Territory: Germany bows to refugees


This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE, the IRC or its partners.



Material reception conditions