There is no other political issue in Germany that is so difficult to talk about factually as migration.
The public debate is influenced by two extreme positions: the moralism of the left, which (reinforced by many media) has achieved opinion leadership, and the xenophobia of the AfD.
Neither one nor the other enables a social consensus or shows a practicable path into the future.
The new federal government will be no less challenged in this area than with climate protection, which is currently receiving so much attention.
An honest consideration includes the acknowledgment of reality.
In 2019, 26 percent of the population had a migration background.
A country in which one in four has foreign roots is a country of immigration.
And Germany has not only recently been: The inhabitants with a migration background have lived here for almost twenty years on average.
The demand from the economy is high
The idea that this development can somehow be turned back is unworldly, at least in a democratic constitutional state, and it is also ahistorical.
Migration has existed since prehistoric times, and Europe in particular has been repopulated again and again as a result.
This does not mean that migration cannot be controlled.
One instrument that Germany has at its disposal for this is membership in the EU's internal market.
Its rules largely limit immigration to labor, and it has the advantage that immigration is based on economic demand.
It has always been high in the Federal Republic.
To this day, most of the immigrants come from Europe.
In 2019 it was 66.4 percent;
Romanians, Poles, Bulgarians and Italians were in the first places.
The new federal government should continue to rely on this instrument. The idea of introducing a points system to attract skilled workers is bureaucratic and superfluous in view of the potential of the internal market. The EU countries offer comparable standards in education and work as well as a cultural proximity that facilitates integration. However, Germany should work in Brussels to curb the (manageable) problem of so-called “welfare state tourism”.
It becomes more difficult with the hot topic of asylum. The number of applicants has recently fallen sharply again. The isolating measures taken not only by the Europeans, but also by important transit countries such as Turkey, make a new refugee crisis on the scale of 2015 rather improbable, even if no one can say how the situation in Afghanistan will develop. Even in a “quiet” year like 2020, 122,170 asylum applications were made in Germany. That corresponds to the population of a large city, so it is not an order of magnitude that can be neglected.
A main problem for a country whose hearts are wide but whose possibilities are finite, to quote Joachim Gauck, is the pull of a generous right of asylum. This can be seen in the overall protection rate published by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. Until August it was 37.8 percent in the current year. This means that almost two thirds of the applicants were not entitled to protection in Germany. Even if part of it is rejected for formal reasons, despite the wars and crises of our time, many people who are not subject to political persecution are seeking asylum. This then leads to the unworthy and often unsolvable problem of deportation.
The EU Commission recently made a proposal on how this could be changed. Among other things, it provides for asylum procedures to be carried out at the borders and to speed them up considerably if someone comes from a safe country. This has initially met with resistance in the EU's Inner Council. The new federal government should nevertheless continue to advocate this idea because it would reduce the incentive to emigrate to Europe irregularly for those who are not really persecuted.
Above all, Germany should not go it alone again. The mood is not only restrictive in Eastern Europe, Merkel's policy of open borders would no longer have a chance in the EU today. It is progress that the German government is now calling for Afghan refugees in the region to be taken care of. But we shouldn't lure the energetic and educated away from more stable developing countries either. They are needed there.
The side effects of migration, from identity issues to crime to terrorism, divide many Western countries. Not only the new federal government, the entire political class must pay more attention to the fact that society is not overwhelmed, as was the case at times in 2015 and 2016. It cannot get to the point where we one day have to choose between migration and political stability.Keywords: