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efms Migration Report

May 2008

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ECJ strengthens influence of European Parliament on asylum policy

On 5 May 2008, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has granted the European Parliament (EP) a right of veto in defining the list of safe countries of origin and transit. The EP had appealed a directive of the EU Council adopted in December 2005, according to which only a hearing of the Parliament on the lists was foreseen. According to the principle of safe third countries asylum applicants entering the EU from a country contained in this list are granted either no or only a speeded-up asylum procedure. In future, the Council has to draw up the lists together with the EP.
06.05.08 // taz 07.05.08

Study: EU internal migration from Eastern Europe is slowing down

According to a study of the British Institute for Public Policy Research, the number of immigrants from the eastern Member States of the European Union (EU) to the western Member States will slow down in the long run. In Great Britain, for instance, already half of the migrants that came from the Czech Republic and Poland would have returned either to their home countries or have moved on to other states. The institute expects this trend to continue and a decrease in the number of workers immigrating from Eastern Europe to Great Britain. According to information of the British Home Office, such decline has already begun. Accordingly, there was a decline of 13 per cent in the number of applications from the new Member States in Eastern Europe in the first quarter of 2008 compared to the same period one year ago. This development is mainly attributed to the improved living conditions in the countries of origin. The criticism of opponents to the eastern enlargement of the EU, who forecasted a permanent labour migration from East to West, thus does not seem to be justified.
FTD 02.05.08 // FAZ 21.05.08

Agreement on one single naturalisation test throughout Germany

As of 1 September 2008, Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) wants to introduce a naturalisation test for foreigners having applied for the German citizenship by issuing a corresponding ordinance. It is planned to introduce a one-hour multiple choice test consisting of 33 questions on German history, politics and culture, which are chosen randomly from a pool of 310 questions available at the internet. To prepare for the test, the adult education centres of the Volkshochschule (VHS) are to offer naturalisation courses consisting of 60 lessons and a naturalisation booklet is to be published. Following the harsh criticism of the so-called "test on personal convictions" in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, the Federal Ministry of the Interior now wants to prepare the exam with more care.
SZ 26.05.08

Language test complicates reunification of spouses

Since the introduction of the mandatory language test to be taken by spouses willing to join their families who are coming from countries whose citizens need a visa for Germany, such as Turkey, within the framework of the amendment of the Immigration Act in 2007, the inflow of spouses to Germany has considerably declined. This information is part of a reply of the Federal Government on a parliamentary inquiry of Sevim Dagdelen, member of the Left Party in the Federal Parliament. With 6,458 persons in the first quarter of 2008, 32 per cent less spouses came to Germany compared to the same period in the previous year. In the case of migrants of Turkish origin, the decline amounted to even 46 per cent. The SPD and the opposition parties therefore have demanded to facilitate the reunification of spouses, arguing that there would be no reason to keep up the "hard-hearted shielding tendencies", said for example Rüdiger Veit, the SPD spokesman on migration policy affairs. Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) defended the regulation saying that language would be a necessary prerequisite for a successful integration.
taz 10.05.08 // FR 15.05.08 // SZ 16.05.08

Migrants affected by poverty above average

People in Germany having a migration background are particularly often affected by poverty. This is the finding of the current Poverty Report published by the Federal Government. While 15 per cent of the overall population would be threatened by poverty, the share among migrants would be almost as double as high with a percentage of well above 28 per cent. The income per capita of migrants would be one fifth below the average income in Germany. As reasons for the disadvantages migrants are facing, the Report lists inter alia school certificates that are not recognised, language barriers and a more difficult access to education.
taz 21.05.08

Anti-constitutional associations to lose tax advantages

Within the framework of a draft bill on the annual fiscal act for 2009, the Federal Government plans to deprive extremist associations and foundations of the tax privileges. In doing so, the Federal Government agrees to a proposal made by the Interior Ministers on federal and state level who also want to employ financial instruments to increase their pressure in the fight against the NPD party and other extremist associations. According to the draft bill, organisations that do not work in the spirit of the Basic Law are no longer to be recognised as non-profit making, which is one prerequisite for the exemption from the corporation and the trade tax as well as for the payment of a reduced value added tax rate.
SZ online 02.05.08

Vocational integration of migrants still difficult

According to the findings of different scientific studies, the permeability of the labour market for persons with a migration background living in Germany is still insufficient. One study titled "Brain Waste", for instance, which was presented in Berlin on 8 May 2008 by the Federal Integration Commissioner, Maria Böhmer (CDU), revealed that migrants can use their vocational qualifications achieved abroad on the German labour market only rarely due to the lack of opportunities of getting their qualifications recognised and because of missing vocational integration programmes. According to the study, staff of the employment agencies often does not even point the migrants" attention to the opportunities in getting their qualifications recognised. Böhmer considered this a waste of talents the country could not afford against the background of the lack of qualified workers. According to Dirk Hahn of the Centre for Turkish Studies, also the obvious trend of academics of Turkish origin who have obtained their university degrees in Germany to return to the home country of their parents seems to confirm the lack of opportunities for persons with migration background on the German labour market. This trend would be a reply to the ongoing experience of being turned away, which was due to the Turkish origin of these persons, said Hahn. How real discrimination on the labour market is, could be seen from the findings of a survey of the Centre for Turkish Studies: Applicants with a German name would be invited to a job interview ten times more often than applicants with the same curriculum who bared a Turkish name. A study on behalf of the Bertelsmann Foundation came to the conclusion that cultural diversity is considered clearly less an advantage among German companies than it is on European average and in the US. Only 44 per cent of the German companies interviewed would apply the so-called "cultural diversity" approach compared to 92 per cent of the firms in the US and an average of 75 per cent in the EU.
FR 06.05.08 // FAZ 08.05.08 // Der Spiegel 19.05.08 // FAZ 29.05.08

Berlin: Indignation about plans to shut-down Radiomultikulti

The plan of the head of the public broadcast corporation Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB), Dagmar Rein, to no longer finance the integration programme called Radiomultikulti, which has been broadcasting since 1994, from 2009 on, has met with misunderstanding and indignation in the general public. As a measure to cut costs and due to low listening figures for the programme of Radiomultikulti, the service is to be replaced by the programme of the WDR broadcast corportation called Funkhaus Europa from the new year. Federal Integration Commissioner Maria Böhmer (CDU) showed concern about the possible shut-down of the broadcast programme. According to Böhmer, multi-lingual programmes like such as Radiomultikulti represented the increasing diversity in the society. Moreover, they offered immigrants without German language skills a kind of first-hand support by informing them in their mother tongues about the customs of the German society. Berlin"s Integration Commissioner Günter Piening said that it would be completely incomprehensible to him that particularly in times that other broadcast stations would think about introducing multi-lingual formats the RBB rather planned to shut down its programme. Seref Erkayhan, vice-chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, criticised that the shutdown of this integration broadcast service would point into the wrong direction. The German-Turkish press reports on the topic using headlines such as "Our radio must not remain silent".
BZ 20.05.08 // BZ 23.05.08 // FR 23.05.08

Stuttgart: Plans for a local Islam conference

In the next year, the city of Stuttgart plans to hold a local Islam conference that is oriented towards the example of Islam Conference summoned on federal level by Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU). The mayor of Stuttgart, Wolfgang Schuster (CDU), said that dialogue would start right on one"s doorstep - therefore, further opportunities for an exchange with the Islamic community should be established. So far, only limited contacts to the 28 Mosque communities had been established.
Stuttgarter Zeitung online 10.05.08 // FAZ 13.05.08

Muslim woman elected to a parliament"s presiding committee for the first time

On 29 May 2008 and for the first time in German history, a Muslim woman has been elected in Hamburg as member of a parliament"s presiding committee. As vice-president of the Bürgerschaft, the City-state parliament, Nebahat Güclü (The Green party) holds the highest political office that has ever been reached by a naturalised politician in the Federal Republic. She considers her election as a recognition of the fact that Germany has become a country of immigration, said Güclü.
taz 30.05.08

Administrative Court of Düsseldorf: Muslim girl must participate in swimming lessons at school

On 7 May 2008, the Administrative Court of Düsseldorf has ruled that a 12-year-old Muslim girl must participate in the swimming lessons taught at the intermediate school in the city of Remscheid. The girl"s parents had taken legal actions with the aim of exempting the girl from having to take swimming lessons for "religious conscientious reasons". Even though the court accepted the religious conscientious reasons of the girl as being plausible and said that the swimming lessons would constitute a restriction of the religious freedom of the girl, it refused the legal action arguing that there would be numerous possibilities to dress the girl that would allow taking into account the religious interests of her that are worth protecting. If such possibilities were used, the restrictions of the religious freedom of the girls could be reduced to a minimum so that the state"s duty to offer education would have to be given preference over private interests when weighing them. Due to the "fundamental nature" of the case, the judges in Düsseldorf have expressly allowed to appeal their decision.
Press release of the Administrative Court Düsseldorf of 07.05.08 // SZ 08.05.08 // FR 08.05.08

Migration balance 2007

The Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden has registered in 2007 a considerable increase in the inflow of persons to Germany. Compared to the previous year, this lead to net migration inflow of 48,000 persons, which is as double as high than in the year before. In the past year, a total of 683,000 persons immigrated to Germany while 635,000 persons left the country. It was only in 2006, when the migration balance had fallen to 23,000 immigrants to reach its lowest level since the German reunification. According to the report, the development is particularly due to the increase in the number of immigrated foreigners by about 2 per cent to reach 572,000 persons on the one hand, and, on the other hand, it was caused by a decline of 3 per cent to 470,000 persons who have left the country. The rising tendency in the outflow of Germans to foreign countries, particularly to Switzerland, remained stable: With 165,000 German citizens who left their home country in 2007, the number rose by approximately 6 per cent compared to the previous year. Also the number of German immigrants (e.g. late German repatriates and returnees) to Germany rose by about 8 per cent to 11,000 persons.
Press release of Destatis 19.05.08 // SZ 20.05.08 // FAZ 20.05.08 // Die Welt 20.05.08

Asylum statistics

In May 2008, a total of 1,599 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany, which is a decrease of 5.6 per cent (-95 persons) over April 2008. Compared to May 2007, the number of asylum applicants has increased by 18.7 per cent (+252 persons). In May 2008, the main countries of origin were Iraq (490), Turkey (106), Vietnam (75) and Serbia (73) followed by Iran (67). In this month, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has decided on the asylum applications of 1,424 persons. A total of 17 persons (1.2 per cent) has been recognised as entitled to political asylum, whereas 488 persons (34.3 per cent) were granted protection against deportation according to § 60, paragraph 1 of the Residence Act. The applications of 437 persons (30.7 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of a further 450 persons (31.6 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 17.06.08

May 2008

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