Analysis of the German Government’s Decision to Amend Immigration Law

2023/06/11 | Economy, interview, top news

Strategic Council Online - Interview: An expert on Europe affairs considered the proposed changes in the German citizenship bill to be an important development in Germany’s approach to immigration and granting citizenship. She said: Contrary to the intensification of anti-immigration policies of some European countries, including Britain, Germany hopes that such reforms will solve the demographic challenges and severe shortage of the labor force in that country.

In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Farnaz Eskandari said that the popularity of Germany as a destination for immigrants from all over the world is increasing, adding that Germany is the largest economy in Europe and the fourth-largest economy in the world. This position provides many job opportunities for immigrants, especially in the technical and engineering industries. Those sectors are growing rapidly in Germany, with a high demand for skilled workers.

Recalling that the history of Germany is defined by the continuous system of foreign labor employment, which was changed from agriculture during the Prussian era to the industrial sector during the Second World War, she continued: According to Poutvaara, the Director of the IFO Center for International Institutional Comparisons and Migration, based in Munich, based on official estimates, Germany needs 400,000 skilled workers per year to meet labor market needs, but the EU’s largest economy currently faces significant labor shortages, particularly in the IT, renewable energy, construction, engineering, and medicine.

The European Studies News-Research Institute expert said: In contrast to the intensification of anti-immigration policies of some European countries, including Britain, it is natural for Germany to act in line with its interests and advance its favorite policies. Europe’s first economy enjoyed a different economic situation and established immigration policies.

Referring to the research conducted by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Eskandari said: More than half of the companies in that country are facing a shortage of skilled labor, and 53 percent of the 22 thousand companies in that country have reported this shortage. There are about two million job vacancies in Germany. Considering these conditions, the new German government, which is formed by a coalition of three parties, the Social Democrats, the Greens, and the Free Democrats, are planning to draft a new citizenship law that will reduce the length of time that foreigners should stay in the Federal Republic before applying for a German passport.

Saying that, in Poutvaara’s opinion, such reforms can help Germany to solve demographic challenges, she continued: Studies by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation show that Germany is rapidly losing its popularity as a destination for skilled immigrants and foreign entrepreneurs and from among 38 countries, considering the indicators of professional opportunities, income, taxes, available opportunities for family members and quality of life, it reached the 15th place from the 3rd position in 2019.

The analyst of Europe affairs said that the German industry has also called for legal changes to facilitate the integration of qualified workers into the German labor market, adding: Due to the current situation, refugees from poor and war-torn countries are flocking to that country as a refuge, while professionals skilled people from outside the European Union and workers that the German economy desperately needs do not want to stay in that country; as far as the German Ministry of Labor has said, the number of job positions that can be held in 2022 reached a record of nearly 2 million people, and providing skilled labor is one of Germany’s most significant economic tasks in the coming decades.

Eskandari explained: According to the plan the German government is considering, this country will adopt a new immigration system in 2023, similar to the Canadian model based on points, which will allow non-EU citizens to enter the country and look for jobs. The new German citizenship bill seeks to change the process of obtaining citizenship by allowing dual and multiple citizenship, and its purpose is to reduce the waiting period for a resident to apply for German citizenship.

She stated: Although Germany is a popular country for immigration, compared to other EU member states, it has relatively less citizenship. Germany has traditionally opposed the recognition of dual citizenship, and this bill seeks to address and resolve this issue.

Eskandari referred to the reduction of the minimum residence requirement from eight years to five years for those who want to obtain German citizenship as a means to create a stronger sense of belonging and integration in German society and said: According to this bill, the path to acceptance of citizenship for children in Germany who are born to non-German parents has become easier, and this is a significant change in a country where more than a quarter of the population has an immigrant background.

Saying that the quick and comprehensive opening of the German labor market to immigrants will help the German economy, she clarified: An increase in the number of workers means more investment and increased growth, but the critics of this bill in the opposition parties believe that such reforms will make the German passport cheap and worthless.

Eskandari said that thanks to immigrants, Germany is more populated than ever. The number of residents whose first German passports were issued in 2022 was the highest rate in the past 20 years, noting: Polls show that more than two-thirds of the Germans believe that the changes that make immigration make easier are needed to alleviate the rampant shortage of skilled workers.

She explained: From 2009 to 2014, more than half a million immigrants entered Germany from Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece. These numbers are small considering the unemployment rate in Southern Europe. Therefore, there is not enough immigration in the euro area to reduce the unemployment rate enough.

The analyst of Europe affairs pointed to the conducted studies regarding the approach of Germans to immigrants and added: According to a survey, Germans are more optimistic about immigration than a few years ago and consider immigration to help solve demographic and economic problems. In particular, two out of every three respondents see immigration as helping to balance the aging society, more than half said in the survey that it could compensate for the ongoing shortage of skilled workers, and half of the respondents expect immigrants to generate more income for those people.

At the same time, she added: Many respondents doubt this issue; 67 percent believe that immigrants put an additional burden on the welfare state, 66 percent are worried about conflicts between immigrants and the German-born, and many respondents fear that schools will face significant problems in the field of immigrant integration.

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