Rethinking Europe, EconoMatters

Germany: A 10-Point Plan to Deal With the Immigration Challenge

What does it take to make sure that the immigrants now arriving are integrated in a sustainable manner?

Credit: GrAl Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • Immigrants should start working once they are in Germany. Learning the language should be mandatory.
  • To advance integration into society, immigrants should do community service till they find a job.
  • Participation in language school and courses on values and rules in Germany should be mandatory.
  • Both sides, migrants and Germans, need to accept immigration as a lifetime decision.
  • The approach of military intervention over development aid leads to more destabilization.
  • 200 million or more of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population will look for a better life in the north.

Reduce bureaucracy

The process of accepting someone as a refugee in Germany takes too long. We need to define safe countries, like Albania, and send immigrants from these countries back directly.

With all sympathy for their interest in a better living, they are not threatened by war or discrimination. On the other hand, refugees from countries in (civil) war should be accepted fast.

Get to work

It is very important to get immigrants into work once they are in Germany. It is bad for both skills and motivation levels if people cannot work.

Learning the German language is of utmost importance and should be mandatory. Ideally from day one onwards, immigrants should have to start learning the language.

And as long as the immigrants don’t have a job, they should do community service. This advances their integration into society and would give a clear signal: Everyone coming to Germany has to contribute to the common good with his or her abilities.

Significant investments in education and integration

We need to register skills in order to find the appropriate job or define the necessary next steps in education. Education will the biggest challenge.

German schools even today fail to integrate and educate the children (and grandchildren) of migrants who have been in the country in some cases for some decades.

The school performance of children from Turkey, the Arab world and Africa is significantly below the average. We need to invest significantly, as this will define which share of migrants will become productive members of our society and which share will depend on social welfare.

Defend our values

Not only skills and language are important. In addition, we need to emphasize our principles and values. This includes freedom of speech and religion, women’s rights, tolerance for minorities and non-violence.

We have to make clear that integration will only work this way and is expected from everyone. Simply arriving is not enough to stay.

Canada, while generally being very welcoming to immigration, every year sends back about 10,000 immigrants — not necessarily for lack of integration, but it is not a one-way street.

Mandatory schooling

Participation in language school and courses on values and rules in Germany need to be mandatory for every new arrival. Just as Brazil does with its bolsa familia, the payment of social welfare should be linked to language and values training.

In doing so, we would convey the image of Germany as we should — a country willing to help, but also a country in which everyone has to make a contribution. Everyone who expects help and support needs to be willing to learn the language.

Recruit qualified immigrants

It is clear that a selection process as in Canada and Australia succeeds in attracting better-qualified migrants.

Besides refugees from war and people in their home countries, who need our support and where economic considerations should play no role, Germany should become more attractive for well-qualified migrants and be more active in advertising the opportunity to build a new life here.

As a consequence, we should actively open the way for legal immigration to Germany. As a result, the applicants could spend their savings on building a new life here, instead of spending it on smugglers.

Permanent

Both sides, the migrants and the German population, need to accept immigration as a lifetime decision. It is not a temporary refuge.

Again, Canada proves the point: If it is seen as permanent, both sides, the migrant and the accepting country, work harder to make integration work.

That has been a particular shortcoming of Germany’s immigration policies in the past, especially regarding Turks.

Help in the poor countries

It would be cheaper and more effective to help the people in safe countries such as Albania, who aim for a better life, with direct financial and organizational support. The EU should invest there and help to build democratic institutions and a working rule of law.

Fostering peace

The current wave of immigration is the result of conflicts which have lasted for decades already – and will likely last decades more.

This is amplified by a demographic development which leads to a high number of young people without a credible perspective of finding a job in their home country. This, in turn, increases the propensity not just for social strife, but even for (civil) war.

The West needs to reconsider its strategy fundamentally. The current U.S.-led approach of favoring military intervention over development aid only leads to even more destabilization.

Be all in

The humanitarian and financial costs of such a strategy are enormous. But if we don’t do this, we will have much higher costs to incur.

Whoever speaks of the benefits of immigration also needs to make sure that all the groundwork is laid so that the possible benefits are also realized. Making the necessary investments can by no means be taken for granted.

In conclusion, the current and future wave of immigration to Germany could be beneficial for our country — but only if we address the challenge with full force.

Unfortunately, it seems as if, just as in the eurozone crisis, that our various countries’ leaderships – Germany’s included — are failing at the task.

There is no denying that any solution involves shouldering huge costs for all citizens, natives and migrants. Those who hope that the wave will end soon should think again: Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is about to grow by 600 million over the next 20 years.

100 million or more of those mostly young people will look for a better life in the north. We had better learn now how to deal with it.

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About Daniel Stelter

Daniel Stelter is the founder of the German think tank Beyond the Obvious and former member of Boston Consulting Group’s Executive Committee . [Germany] Follow him @thinkBTO

Responses to “Germany: A 10-Point Plan to Deal With the Immigration Challenge”

Archived Comments.

  1. On September 15, 2015 at 5:06 am Nightfalcon responded with... #

    I generally agree to stelters action plan but like to remember that there is a difference between refugees and immigrants. Refugees are endangered by war and death therefore deserve help even when there is no economical benefit. This leads to the question how can we deal in a resonsible sustainable way with refugees who cannot be integrated or who exceed the capacity we can handle. They cannot be sent back to let’s say syria. In my opinion we have to increase immediately financial support of neighbour countries like Lebanon and Jordan as well as UNHCR take care for the refugees at the first save place. We also should consider and take all kind of actions that help to end war in Syria and Iraq instead of closing eyes.