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efms Migration Report

August 2007

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EU: Frontex suspends patrols at the Mediterranean

In August, the EU Border Agency Frontex has temporarily suspended its operations to protect the EU external borders at the Mediterranean. Especially during the six-month "maritime refugee season", the EU Agency with its headquarters in Warsaw supports the national authorities in charge of border protection in the surveillance of human smuggling routes over the Mediterranean within the framework of the operation called "Nautilus 2007". According to the EU Commission, the operation originally scheduled to take place throughout the entire season from May to October needs to be suspended due the lack of personnel and financial resources. The equipment for the operations such as helicopters, boats, etc. would be provided by the Member States; however, most of the Member States had not complied with their promises to provide more equipment, so that, for instance, instead of the 115 boats, 25 helicopters and 23 aircraft promised, only as few as two dozens of boats and a few helicopters would be available. The Member of the European Parliament for the SPD party, Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler, suspects that the reason for the Member States to keep Frontex on a short leap would be that they did not want to have additional immigrants entering their countries. All would be afraid of having to admit refugees if they participated in an operation. From 2008, Frontex wants to conduct its operations even throughout the whole year. Germany has announced to contribute more funds and personnel to further expand the organisation.
NZZ 03.08.07 // FAZ 24.08.07

Poland complains about increasing shortage of workers and specialists

In Poland, the growth of the economy and the emigration of Polish workers to the "old" Member States, particularly to Great Britain and Ireland, lead to an increasing lack of workers and specialists. According to the employers" association Lewiatan, not only the agricultural sector but also the industrial sector complains about the lack of work force. Accordingly, three out of four member firms would currently be looking in vain for electricians, mechanics, engineers, computer scientists, computer experts or accountants. In the development of the wages and salaries in the past the pressure on the companies is reflected: in June 2007, for instance, the average wages and salaries were 9.7 per cent above the same month of the previous year. According to the professional association of the anaesthetists, also the health care sector is threatened by an increased outflow of health care personnel: 17 per cent of the total of 3,700 physicians working in the country had already made applications for certificates that allows them to take up work abroad. Moreover, a survey of the Allianz Group has revealed a decrease in the future Polish workforce due to a demographic aging of the population that can observed in many Central and Eastern European states, which could further aggravate the lack of specialists for the labour market. Poland now takes into consideration to facilitate the immigration of work force from the Ukraine, Russia and Belarus in order to encounter this shortage.
FTD 31.07.07 // FAZ 06.08.07

UNHCR: Germany violates international law and EU law with its residence regulations

In his report published on 10 August 2007, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) blamed the German authorities of violating both the Geneva Convention on Refugees (GCR) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as well as applicable EU laws because of the provisions on the residence of recognized or tolerated refugees. The Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) confirmed that refugees being granted social welfare benefits would be obliged to establish their domicile exclusively at the places where their residence permits were issued. Such a limitation could refer to the federal state, a district, a county or even on the territory of a single municipality. The regulation would be aimed at impeding an uncontrolled internal migration of foreign beneficiaries of social welfare benefits and to avoid this way a shifting of costs between the federal states and the municipalities. The UNHCR criticised that according to the GCR the freedom of movement could only be limited if this was applicable to all foreigners with a similar residence status, which in Germany would not be the case. Moreover, the ECHR would allow such limitation only under strictly defined rules of exception, such as to maintain the public order, to combat crime and to protect the general public health. In order to circumvent the provisions governing the choice of the place of residence, the Federal Administrative Court had pointed in 2000 to the possibility to achieve an internal equalization of burdens on the basis of claims for refund, which would not be in conflict with the duties laid down by international law. The Human Rights Commissioner of the Federal Government, Günter Nooke (CDU), said that the points criticised by the UNHCR needed to be analysed in detail. However, there would be no doubt that Germany would on national level adhere to what it demanded in its foreign policy.
Tagesspiegel online 10.08.07 // Rheinische Post 11.08.07 // FAZ 11.08.07 // NZ 12.08.07

Following the reform of the Immigration Act also the Law governing the right to remain enters into force

The Law Implementing the Directives of the European Union concerning the Residence and Asylum Laws went into force on 28 August 2007. Besides regulations on combating fictitious and forced marriages, on strengthening internal security, on facilitating the inflow of company founders und on measures for a better integration of immigrants, the reform regulates the settlement of so-called backlog cases, which is of particular importance for foreigners living in Germany for six or eight years, respectively. It will extend the regulation on the right to remain on which the Conference of the Interior Ministers agreed on in November 2006 and offers about 90,000 foreigners tolerated in Germany the opportunity to be granted a permanent right to remain. Initially, they will be granted a residence right of two years as well as equal rights in accessing the labour market. Those of the tolerated persons who were gainfully employed most of the time in the two subsequent years and who can provide evidence of a firm employment for the future will be given the opportunity to obtain a permanent residence permit at the end of 2009. Tolerated persons who do not fulfil the provisions foreseen in the regulation on backlog cases are in future to be granted equal rights in accessing the labour market upon the expiry of four years. With this amendment of the law, also a new regulation of the Nationality Act entered into force, which allows more citizens to have a double nationality: Applicants for the German nationality having had before the Swiss nationality or the nationality of an EU Member States no longer need to give up their former citizenship. In turn, also Germans may keep their nationality when acquiring the nationality of another EU Member State or of Switzerland.
Press release of BMI 29.08.07 // FAZ 30.08.07 // NN 31.08.07

Federal Office of Criminal Investigation to be furnished with more competences in combating terrorism

With an amendment of the law, Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) wants to furnish the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) with more powers in combating international terrorism. A new draft bill presented by the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) contains a section on "Warding off the dangers constituted by international terrorism" that is to be included in the Act governing the activities of the BKA, by which the BKA - in its relation to the Offices of Criminal Investigation of the Federal States - would be furnished with newly defined competences in combating terrorist threats. The draft bill details that the competence of the BKA would be linked to the requirement that a terrorist threat is not limited to the boundaries of one federal state but nation-wide, which, however, would be have been fulfilled already in cases where a suspect person advocates the worldwide Jihad. Moreover it is foreseen that the BKA in future has the right to take preventive counter terrorist measures, instead of starting investigations only after a criminal act had been committed, as it was the case so far. For starting its activities, it would be sufficient to just assume that a crime is being planned. The future instruments and tools available to the BKA are to include the disputed online searches, the spying out of private PCs, the surveillance of suspect persons, body searches and apprehension of persons and the collection of personal data. The basis of the amendment of the BKA"s areas of competence was established through the federalism reform in 2006, by which the German Basic Law was amended accordingly.
BZ 31.08.07

Federal Cabinet takes decisions on counter measures against the lack of highly skilled workers

On the occasion of its conference held on 24 August 2007 in the town of Meseberg in the federal state of Brandenburg, the Federal Cabinet has taken far-reaching decisions on counter-measures to reduce the lack of highly skilled workers. As an immediate measure, the access to the German labour market of mechanical engineers and electrical engineers from the twelve new EU Member States will be facilitated from 1 November by abolishing the so-called rule of preference according to which German applicants needed to be given preferred employment. Moreover, foreign students who obtain their final university degrees in Germany would be given one year of time to find employment. Provided they have a permanent employment, they will in future be allowed to work for three years in Germany instead of previously just one year before having to leave the country again. On the long term, the Federal Ministries of Labour and Social Affairs, of the Interior and of Education and Research will jointly develop a concept to regulate immigration in way that adequately corresponds with the needs of the labour market. Moreover, a "national qualification initiative" implemented in the areas of school education, vocational education and further training will be employed to better benefit from the potentials available in Germany. As regards the discussion on a possible introduction of a scoring system and of a lowering of the income requirements for highly skilled workers, the Federal Government has reached no agreement. According to the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), these issues would be discussed in detail not before mid-2008. The industry and the Green party welcomed the decisions taken at the conference, but also demanded further measures. Claudia Roth, Chairwomen of the Green party said, that the agreement found at Meseberg would constitute a minor progress rather than a breakthrough. The president of the German employers" association, Dieter Hundt, considered the measures as being right and urgently needed. The managing vice-director of the Federation of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), Achim Dercks, said the decision would not allow an opening of the labour market as encouraged as expected and expressed himself less satisfied.
Press release of BMBF 24.08.07 // BZ 25.08.07 // Die Welt 25.08.07 // FR 25.08.07

Attack on foreigners in small Saxon town fuels debate on right-wing extremism

The attacks on eight Indian nationals in the Saxon town of Mügeln, who visited a public wine festival and who were thrashed and literally chased through the streets by an angry mob, has intensified the public debate on the fight against right-wing extremism: Politicians and the public sharply condemned the events and demanded to exhaust all remedies in the fight against right-wing extremism. The Secretary General of the Central Council of the Jews, Stephan Kramer, accused politics of having failed in the fight against right-wing extremism and said that in the light of the developments the discussion about no-go-areas needed to be re-opened again. Moreover, he criticised that the Ministry for Family Affairs would not be able to cope with its tasks in the area of right-wing extremism. Also the member of the executive committee of the SPD, Niels Annen, reproached the competent Federal Minister, Ursula von der Leyen (CDU), with a lack of interest about the fight against right-wing extremism. Von der Leyen said that in view of the demand of the Central Council of Jews that right-wing extremism needed to be encountered with utmost severity, this issue would be better assigned to the Federal Ministry of the Interior; she added, however, that despite the need of severe measures to be taken against right-wing extremists, it would be also necessary to pay attention to youth work, the creation of employment prospects and the set-up of a strong culture of civil involvement. The Federal Government currently considers unenforceable the initiative of SPD chairman Kurt Beck, who said it would be indispensable to reconsider a prohibition of the right-wing NPD party. On this topic, the spokesman of the Government, Thomas Steg, said the situation was currently characterized by scepticism and restraint: Another defeat (of the attempt to prohibit the NPD party) before the Federal Constitutional Court would be a major setback for democracy. Necessary for fighting against right-wing extremism would be a holistic approach, which could not be limited to a prohibition.
IHT 21.08.07 // BZ 23.08.07 // FR 23.08.07 // Die Welt 23.08.07 // BZ 24.08.07 // SZ 25.08.07 // Der Spiegel 27.08.07 // Die Welt 28.08.07 // BZ 30.08.07

Federal Government launches campaign for better economic integration of migrants

Under the title "Vielfalt als Chance" ("Variety as Opportunity"), the Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, Maria Böhmer, launched a campaign aimed at making the public more aware of the economic potential of persons with a migration background and at improving the employment rates in companies, associations and in the public service. Böhmer said that Germany would have a lot to catch up on regarding the so-called "diversity management", i.e. in the promotion of cultural and ethnic diversity among employees. Moreover, she added, employees who are acquainted with various languages and cultures would be advantaged in a globalised economy as they could better deal with the needs of business partners and clients from abroad. The campaign is scheduled to run until the end of 2008 and comprises poster campaigns, workshops and conferences. Various initiatives have shown, however, that the economic potential of migrants had been recognised already before. Within the framework of the implementation of the National Integration Plan, the police authorities of the federal states of Hesse and Lower Saxony have launched for instance campaigns to waken the interest in joining the police forces among migrants to a broader extent. In Hamburg, the first nation-wide Job-Contact-Fair for persons with a migration background is scheduled to take place on 28 and 29 September 2007 at the Museum of Labour. There, about 25 companies such as Randstadt, the public transport provider Hamburger Hochbahn, the Hospital of the Holy Ghost as well as the police and the fire brigade would like to recruit new employees.
Hessische/ Niedersächsische Allgemeine 05.08.07 // FR 13.08.07 // Press release of the Federal Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration of 16.08.07 // Personal-Magazin online 21.08.07 // Press release of the Federal Government of Germany 23.08.07 // Die Welt 23.08.07 // BZ 24.08.07 // NZ 24.08.07

More women take actions against forced marriages

According the women"s rights organisation Terre de Femme (TdF), the number of women in Germany seeking assistance in view of being forced to enter into a marriage, has considerably increased over the past years: while in 2004 an average of 8 women per month contacted the TdF, the number has increased in 2006 to an average of 14 requests for help per month, said the spokeswomen of TdF, Sybille Schreiber. On the basis of these figures, however, no general statement could be derived as to a possible increase in the number of forced marriages. However, an increase in the number of cases of where women are brought into foreign countries to arrange forced marriages during holiday times could be established, said Schreiber. The increase in the requests for help could be attributed to the positive reports on the experiences of women who were offered help and encouraged other women to seek assistance as well, but also the increasing awareness among the population of forced marriages being wrong would play a role. Of particular importance would be in this respect that opinion leaders in the Turkish community assumed responsibility and showed themselves opposed to forced marriages: The large Turkish daily Hürriyet, for instance, has launched a campaign against forced marriages.
taz online 10.08.07 // Portal of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg online 15.08.07

Turkish education societies establish schools

By establishing their own schools, the Turkish educated class wants to improve the opportunities of its children as regards a successful participation in the German educational system. With the beginning of the new school year, the Dialog Education Society will open a private grammar school in Cologne. Alp Sarac, member of the Dialog Education Society, said that he knew about the special problems children of Turkish origin would face in the German educational system as he experienced these difficulties himself. Therefore, the learning enviroment would be specifically tailored to the needs of children of Turkish origin and comprised small classes, committed teachers and language training. Since special importance would be given to language skills, the languages used to teach would also comprise Turkish in addition to German and English. In state-run schools, successful participation of Turkish children would be threatened by disadvantages such as too little support in the event of language problems or the reservations of teachers towards children with migration background. At the new school, the lessons will be taught in accordance with the North Rhine-Westphalian curriculum; in the afternoon, the children can choose to attend support classes, theatre groups and courses to deepen their language skills. Besides the project in Cologne, there are also plans to establish an intercultural private primary school in Nuremberg. The association in charge of the project, the German-Turkish association Mesale, is still waiting for the approval of the school by the regional government of the Bavarian region of Central Franconia, however.
Die Zeit 09.08.07 // NN 16.08.07 // NZ 23.08.07 //

Munich/Penzberg: Plans for an Islam centre overshadowed by accusations of anticonstitutional activities

The plans of the Islamic community of Penzberg to establish in the centre of Munich a "Munich Centre for Islam in Europe" (ZIEM in its German abbreviation) are beginning to sway due to the allegations of the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior which said the community had contacts to Islamic association of Mili Görus which is considered to be anticonstitutional. In his function as Imam of the Islamic community of Penzberg and as initiator of ZIEM, Benjamin Idriz, who is known as a supporter of an open European form of Islam, has presented the city of Munich and Members of the Bavarian parliament a concept according to which it is planned to establish a centre with 8,000 square metres of floor space, which is primarily meant to serve as a place of "social integration". For that purpose, the centre is to comprise an education and assistance centre for family and marriage affairs, an information centre, a service centre and a centre for elderly people as well as an academy for Imams. The aim would be to establish an Islam meeting "European standards". In their concept, the initiators expressly declare their support for democracy, the rule of law and pluralism and demand of the Muslim population living in Germany a "seriously meant process towards a spiritual reorganisation". State Secretary of the Interior, Georg Schmid (CSU), warned that he had doubts about the aims of the planned academy to contribute to real integration and pointed to the membership of the chairman of the Penzberg community in Mili Görüs until 2005. Idriz is supported, however, by the opposition in the Bavarian parliament: The integration expert of the SPD, Rainer Volkmann, said that someone who harms Idriz would do overall damage to moderate forms of Islam and strengthened its radical representatives. Also the Penzberg section of the CSU and both Christian Churches supported Idriz and praised his efforts for integration. Following the allegations of the Bavarian Interior Ministry, the city of Munich is now acting cautiously and argues that only if the suspicions of anticonstitutional attitudes are cleared up, it could further handle the inquiry of the Muslim community.
KNA 01.08.07 // taz 10.08.07 // FR 16.08.07 // SZ 17.08.07 // FAZ 27.08.07 // SZ 27.08.07

Asylum statistics

In August 2007, a total of 1,918 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes an increase of 29.3 per cent (+435 persons) over the month before. Compared to August 2006, the number of asylum applicants has slightly increased by 1.0 per cent (+19 persons). The main countries of origin in August were Iraq (706), Serbia (135), Turkey (109) and Vietnam (100) followed by the Russian Federation (69). In August, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on 3,067 asylum applications. Twenty-two persons (0.7 per cent) were recognised as being entitled to political asylum. Another 1,543 persons (50.3 per cent) were granted protection against deportation according to § 60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The petitions of 882 persons (28.8 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of a further 580 persons (18.9 per cent) have been closed for other reasons (e.g. due to suspensions of asylum procedures because persons have withdrawn their applications).
Press release of BMI of 10.09.07

August 2007

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