Germany calls in US management consultancy firm for help with refugee crisis

An agreement has been reached for help in speeding up the registration, housing and care of refugees

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The Independent Online

The refugee crisis in Europe appears to have stumped the brightest minds in the German government. So Chancellor Angela Merkel has approved plans to call in the US management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company to produce a coherent response to the emergency on Europe’s borders.

Frank-Jürgen Weise, the newly appointed head of Germany’s Federal Migration Office, was reported to have reached an agreement with McKinsey’s German strategy and organisation director, Frank Mattern, for help in speeding up the registration, housing and care of refugees.

McKinsey, which has attracted criticism in Germany in the past for using “stereotypical” solutions to solve management problems, was selected because the concern has provided similar assistance to the Swedish government on refugee immigration, sources said.

Mr Weise took over as Germany’s new migration office director only last week. His main task will to be to reduce a growing backlog of some 276,000 asylum applications which are continuing to slow down the process of registering the huge numbers of migrants entering Germany.

The backlog has meant that the authorities have found it often virtually impossible to differentiate between genuine war refugees, who are eligible for asylum, and economic migrants from so-called safe countries who, in most cases, would be returned to their country of origin.

Mr Weise said that he would be making big staff increases and using university students in an attempt to clear the backlog. He admitted, however, that it was a problem which “cannot be controlled”. His other main task will be to speed up the asylum process from its current seven months per applicant to two.

His immediate superior, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, pledged to accelerate the integration of refugees. He said he envisaged a system under which migrants could quickly start learning German and be offered an early possibility of work after they had been registered.

But four Eastern European countries forged a united front against the plans for binding quotas to spread 120,000 refugees across the EU, which was due to be discussed at a meeting in Brussels of interior ministers and at the upcoming summit of EU leaders. The four ministers – from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – agreed at a meeting in Prague that they were “absolutely dedicated” to reaching an agreement on the crisis, but underlined their opposition to any fixed quotas.