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efms Migration Report


July 2003

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European Convention: EU constitution comprises limited veto rights in immigration policy

Shortly before the end of its deliberations on a draft treaty for a European Constitution, the European Convention has partly responded to German demands concerning immigration policy. Whereas the majority of convention members had originally agreed to take all decisions in migration policy on a majority basis, members of the convention representing Germany (Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Greens), Erwin Teufel (CDU), representing German state governments, and Jürgen Meyer (SPD), representing the federal parliament), have insisted on national veto rights in this policy field. Mr. Fischer, Germany's foreign minister, has called immigration policy a "particularly sensitive" area of interior policy; consequently, in the view of the German government, it would be "unacceptable at present" to allow EU majority decisions in this area.

The Convention members have been able to reach a compromise according to which EU member states will continue to decide on the national level on migration inflows of third-country nationals entering the EU for the purpose of taking up gainful employment. All other EU decisions on migration and refugee policy, on the other hand, for example concerning family migration and refugees are to be taken by majority vote.

Both Mr. Fischer, the German foreign minister, and Mr. Teufel, the representative of the Bundesrat (second chamber of parliament representing state governments) have welcomed the compromise and called for keeping the draft treaty for a European constitution in its present state.

The opposition CSU party, on the other hand, has criticised the draft document. At a party conference in Nuremberg, party members have voted with an overwhelming majority for maintaining full national sovereignty in migration and refugee policy. Hartmut Koschyk, the CSU's interior policy spokesman, and Günther Beckstein (CSU), the Bavarian interior minister, have expressed concerns that the federal government could attempt to pass a new migration law at the European level, even though the government's migration bill has been rejected by the Bundesrat, the second chamber of the federal parliament.
FAZ 04.07.03 // Welt 05.07.03 // SZ 06.07.03 // FR 09.07.03 // SZ 11.07.03 // Welt 21.07.03


Lower Saxony presents parliamentary bill for a new integration law

Following earlier announcements, the state government of Lower Saxony has passed an integration bill for foreign residents and ethnic German immigrants (Aussiedler), introducing it in the Bundesrat, the second chamber of the federal parliament representing state governments. Lower Saxony, with its CDU-FDP coalition government, is thus the first opposition-led state to introduce its own migration bill.

According to the draft, language and integration courses will in future be obligatory not only for new immigrants, but also for non-German residents of Germany who receive welfare payments and have insufficient German language skills. The orientation courses are to comprise 930 lessons. If persons refuse to participate in the courses, they are to be sanctioned; repeated refusals to participate could even lead to a repeal of residence permits. Non-German residents who are unemployed or on welfare will also have their benefits cut by 25% if they refuse to participate. The course fees, which according to the bill will amount to about 1,600 per person, are to be paid by participants. Exceptions are only to be granted to people depending on unemployment or welfare benefits, with their course fees being covered by the federal government.

The Lower-Saxony bill also calls for restricting family migration of spouses and children to Germany if the foreign resident has insufficient German language skills, thus failing to show "integration efforts". Concerning immigration by ethnic Germans (Aussiedler), the bill demands an obligatory German language test for all accompanying family members on entering Germany. Up to now, only applicants, i.e. Aussiedler themselves, but not their accompanying family members have to pass the language test. Furthermore, Lower Saxony wants to impose an immigration quota for Aussiedler (50,000 persons per year).

Politically, the Lower Saxony integration bill constitutes an attempt to split up the migration bill of the federal government, which has not yet been passed but reintroduced into the legislative process. After failing in the Bundesrat, the government wants to refer the bill to the parliamentary conference committee. According to Lower Saxony interior minister Uwe Schünemann (CDU), splitting up the migration bill is justified by the "great urgency" of improving language skills of foreign residents and Aussiedler. The red-green government coalition, on the other hand, is strictly opposed to splitting up its migration reform, and has received support by some opposition politicians in this matter, above all CDU chairwoman Angela Merkel and Saarland Premier Peter Müller (CDU), who have both expressed reservations against passing a separate integration act.

In the Lower Saxony state parliament, the opposition parties (SPD and Greens) have criticised the integration bill. Their rejection has also been supported by the Association of Turkish Businessmen (BTEU), which has branded the bill as anti-integration.
dpa 01.07.03 // FR 02.07.03 // SZ 04.07.03 // FAZ 12.07.03


Cabinet extends Green Card regulations

The Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour has announced that the so-called "Green-Card" regulations are to be extended until December 31, 2004. The federal cabinet has passed a respective decree, which amends the "Decree on residence allowances for highly qualified IT and communications specialists". Without the amendment, the decree would have expired on July 31, 2003. Federal Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement (SPD) has justified the extension by pointing out that the IT sector needs to be able to recruit non-German experts, particularly as long as the government migration bill has not passed.

According to statistics published by the Central Office for Labour Allocation, 14,400 IT specialists from non-EU countries have been recruited and granted a limited residence permit since regulations took effect in August 2000; originally, the decree had envisioned a quota of 20,000 Green Cards, which however has not been fully met up to now.

A recent case study published by the Institute for Labour Market and Vocational Research has found that 7% of the non-German IT experts have become unemployed at least once since the regulations have been implemented (figures refer to the Munich region only). Experts have pointed out that this figure is "just the lower limit". National statistics are not available due to a lack of statistical registration.
SZ 07.07.03 // FAZ 08.07.03 // dpa 09.07.03 // Press Statement Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour 09.07.03 // FR 10.07.03 // Spiegel online 16.07.03


Schily has criticised Turkish authorities for citizenship repeals "at the expense of Germany"

In an urgent letter, Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) has called on his Turkish colleague Abdulkadir Aksu to revoke decisions which have repealed the citizenship of Turkish nationals. Mr. Schily has thus criticised Turkish administrative practices which deprive their own citizens of their Turkish nationality if they live abroad and fail to return to Turkey for their national service. According to Mr. Schily, this practice "resolves interior affairs of Turkey at the expense of Germany" and violates international law
dpa. 10.07.03 // tagesspiegel 11.07.03 // Welt 12.07.03


Federal Constitutional Court allows extradition to India despite risk of torture

The Federal Constitutional Court has upheld a ruling by the Munich Upper District Court (OLG), which has allowed the extradition of an Indian man. The native Indian, who is now a national of Vanuatu (a Pacific island), cheated and Indian bank out of 2.1m in 1994 and 1995. According to the decision, he can now be extradited to India. His appeal to the Constitutional Court has thus been repealed, even though Indian authorities frequently resort to mistreatment and torture, according to reports by the foreign ministry and Amnesty International.

In its ruling, the Federal Constitutional Court has pointed out that there is no evidence for systematic human rights violations in India and that India has banned torture. In addition, the 2001 bilateral extradition agreement between Germany and India is further indication that human rights violations do rarely occur in India (Ref. 2 BvR 685/03)

Two of the eight judges have opposed the ruling and published a minority opinion according to which the bilateral extradition treaty cannot be regarded as indication of human rights standards. The two judges also refer to recently published reports by the foreign ministry, which had pointed out that Indian police forces do frequently violate human rights and that conditions in Indian prisons are "desolate". Consequently, the two judges are in favour of further investigating the matter.

The German Association of Lawyers has criticised the ruling and the court's published opinion in particular. Amnesty International has also called the ruling "questionable".
dpa 22.07.03 // FR 23.07.03 // sueddeutsche.de 22.07.03


Population trends 2002: migration inflows have prevented population decrease

According to the Federal Office of Statistics, the resident population of Germany has increased by 0.1% in 2002 to the current level of 82,537,000, an increase by 97,000 persons over the previous year. Even though the deficit of births has continued to grow, this has been more than compensated for by net migration inflows. In 2001, migration inflows (of Germans and foreign nationals) have exceeded outflows by 219,000 persons. Almost 70% of these net migration inflows have been made up by migrants of non-German nationality. Whereas 656,000 foreign nationals have migrated to Germany in 2002 (2001: 685,000), 504,000 foreign nationals have left Germany (2001: 490,700), amounting to net inflows of 152,000 people (2001: 188,000).

According to Jürgen Dorbritz, a demographics expert at the Federal Institute for Population Research, the key issue of maintaining social security systems despite the general ageing of the population cannot be resolved by immigration, but at least "cushioned".
Press Statement Federal Office for Statistics 17.07.03 // FAZ 18.07.03 // SZ 18.07.03


Asylum statistics

In July 2003, a total of 4,528 persons have submitted petitions for political asylum in Germany, a decrease by 875 (24.0 %) over the previous month, but a significant decrease by 1,419 (- 23.9 %) over the same month of last year. As for the total of asylum petitions for the first seven months of this year, respective figures have fallen by 11,120 over the same period last year, a decrease by 26.4 %. Applicants' main countries of origin in July were Turkey (532), Serbia and Montenegro (441), the Russian Federation (328), China (290) and Iran (208).

In July, the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees has passed decisions on the petitions of 8,572 asylum applicants, 99 (1.2 %) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 112 persons (1.3%) have been granted protection against deportation according to §51 Par.1 Foreigners Act ("semi-asylum status"). The petitions of 5,833 persons (68.0 %) have been rejected. The remaining 29.5 % of applications have been closed for other reasons (e.g. when petitions have been withdrawn or administrative procedures ended for other reasons).
Press statement BMI 6.08.03


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