An expert council has lauded Germany for how it handled refugees | Photo: Reuters
An expert council has lauded Germany for how it handled refugees | Photo: Reuters

Much has been accomplished, but there's still a lot to be done: That’s the conclusion of a report by migration experts in regards to the German government’s refugee policy. The council sees a positive development in the immigration act for skilled personnel in Germany.

The Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration has concluded that Germany has done a good job of taking in and integrating refugees in past years. The theme of its annual report was the balancing act between controlling and steering migration on the one hand and integrating recognized refugees on the other hand, the expert council said.

While much has been accomplished, much remains to be done, the president of the expert council, Thomas K. Bauer, admitted on Tuesday.

According to the expert council’s annual report, which assesses salient trends and challenges in migration and integration, Germany is currently “well equipped” to deal with a large number of refugees arriving in the country in a short period of time. The report says Germany has passed the “stress test” it underwent over the past years.

The expert council consists of nine experts and it founded around ten years ago by eight foundations as an “independent and scientific body.” 

The council found that Germany's migration policy included both liberal and restrictive measures.

For instance, Germany set up additional integration programs for asylum seekers and improved the odds to stay in Germany for persons with temporary bans on deportation. At the same time, the government expanded the list of safe countries of origin and removed obstacles to deportation, the council said.

Balancing act

In regards to the change of the Minister of the Interior from CDU politician Thomas de Maiziere to CSU politician Horst Seehofer, the expert council ascertains continuity of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy.

Similarly, the council finds that the so-called anchor centers for refugees, (Anker-Zentren, center for asylum seekers) did not introduce an entirely new concept. In comparison to its predecessors, the reception centers, not much has changed except the name.

Recognition of qualifications

Concerning the integration of migrants, the expert council called for more flexibility, for example when it comes to access to educational institutions and the recognition of apprenticeships and academic degrees. In this context, the council welcomed the draft law for the immigration act for skilled personnel.

There's a paradigm shift in the way immigration is perceived in Germany, the council says. Instead of “Zuwanderung" (“immigration” seen from inside the country, i.e. from the point of view of the nationals), the preferred term by the government is now the word "Einwanderung” (“immigration” seen from outside the country, i.e. from the point of view of the immigrants themselves).  The authors of the report call the change a “paradigm shift” that signals that the government has recognized Germany was a country of immigration.

Migration policy gets poor mark

Calling on the European Union to improve its migration and refugee policy, the experts urged the bloc to finally pursue a common policy, to make progress with the Dublin regulation reform and to assume more responsibility overall.

Migration expert Petra Bendel, one of the nine experts, said that protection structures in the countries of origin, transit countries as well as the non-European countries needed to be improved. The collaboration with the main countries of origin played an increasingly important role in terms of migration policy, Bendel added.

With material from KNA


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