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Germany ranks second most popular immigration destination

Tuesday, 02 December 2014

Fewer and fewer people choose the EU as a long-term residence, but Germany is the exception to this rule, according to an OECD finding, most likely due to the effects of the eurozone crisis. EurActiv Germany reports.

No other industrialised Western country has seen an immigration increase as high as that in Germany. According to the latest statistics collected by the OECD, 465,000 newcomers moved to the country in 2013 – more than double the number in 2007.

As a result, Germany is the second most popular target country after the United States.

In Europe, movement from third countries, outside the EU, decreased to around 950,000. Meanwhile internal migration within the EU rose considerably. In 2012, over a third of new migrants in Germany came from EU countries – in 2007 it was not even one-tenth.

The OECD links the increase to EU enlargement in 2004 and 2007, as well as the right to freedom of movement.

Because of the economic crisis, a higher number of people from crisis-ridden countries in southern Europe chose to move to economically successful EU countries like Germany.

“Up to a fourth of the asymmetrical labour market shock – which has occurred at various times with varying intensity in individual EU countries – has been absorbed through migration within one year,” the OECD study says.

Germany also showed a considerable increase in the number of asylum applicants. In 2013, one in five of around 555,000 asylum applicants among the OECD countries sent an application to Germany. 110,000 first-time applications were submitted to Germany, compared to 68,000 to the United States and 60,000 to France.

Asylum applicants originated primarily from Russia, Serbia and Kosovo as well as civil war-ridden Syria.

But asylum applicants hardly had an impact on long-term immigration. Only a minority of applicants received a long-term residence permit in Germany. In addition, many asylum applications opened in 2013 were not concluded within the same year.

The OECD praises Germany in the study for its labour policy. According to the research, the employment rate among immigrants rose five points since 2007 to 68% – the largest increase within the OECD.

“Over the past few years, Germany was able to learn many lessons about labour market integration for migrants,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria.

Low-qualified migrants even have a higher employment rate in Germany than people who were born in the country and have the same educational background.

But the study says there is room for improvement among highly-qualified migrants. Only a little over half are pursuing a career that fits their education level. The rest are either unemployed or working in a job below their qualifications.

To improve integration of highly-qualified immigrants in the labour market, the OECD recommends intensifying efforts for increased recognition of foreign qualifications. Although Germany in particular has made significant progress in this area, it is important to connect the recognition process with additional training and career-oriented language acquisition, the authors indicated.

High levels of minors with a migration background was something the OECD indicated as particularly problematic in Germany. This group makes up more than one third of individuals born outside the country – the highest among countries within the OECD.

At the Integration Summit in Berlin on Monday (1 December), political, economic and administrative representatives discussed ways to improve educational opportunities for young immigrants.

On Tuesday (2 December) German Internal Affairs Minister Thomas de Maizière will receive the EU’s Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos in the German capital. The two are expected to address the issue of creating a more just distribution of refugees and combating “illegal” immigration.

European heads of state and government are considering whether or not asylum proceedings should be conducted in North Africa on behalf of the EU. In addition, EU internal affairs ministers will face the question over how refugee admission should look in Europe at a meeting at the end of this week.

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