According to the most recent statistics as published by the OECD for 2012 Germany having seen a significant growth of migration in comparison to last year has been skyrocketed to the second place of the list of the the world’s top migration spots right after the United States of America.
“Germany became the second-largest immigration country, after the United States, in the OECD in 2012, receiving more than 10% of all permanent immigration to the OECD area. In 2009, it was only the eighth largest. This spectacular increase has been fuelled mainly by inflows from central and eastern European countries and, to a lesser degree, southern Europe.”
Cf. also an article as published by Bloomberg.
And it seems to get even better. Based on the official statistics as published by the Federal Statistic Office for 2013 no less than an additional 146.000 foreigners (that equals to a surplus of 13 % in comparison to 2012) have migrated to Germany – the total number of foreign migrants for 2013 being 1.108.000. Since during the same period 649.000 foreigners have left the country there is a significant migration surplus of 459.000 foreigners (as opposed to the alreay high number of 387.000 in 2012). That is the highest growth to report since 1993 (!).
These good news are partly due to the fact that the economies of the Southern European countries are (still) not doing well (e.g. Greece, Italy, Portugal and – to a lesser extent – Spain) and others are also struggling to a certain extent (e.g. France, Netherlands) whereas Germany is happy enough to have a very strong economy despite of the economic crisis on a global scale and therefore is in a position to add a lot of fuel to the EU engine to keep it running. The fact that Germany is getting more attraction is however mainly due to the stable political situation and the reliable legal system that together create an enviroment that apparently seems to be friendly to investors and new arrivals. With regard to the latter one can say that this is not limited to the conditions for migrating to German and the possibilites to secure a “residence title for the purpose of gainful employment” (the offical name of the work permit) – even though the subject matter is still highly regulated and way too complexe in my opinion. Moreover, the frame conditions for establishing a business in Germany, for entering into business relationships by way of contracts with business partners and customers and also – if need given – to litigate are generally seen as advantageous.
At the end of the day it is the mix of all these aspects that makes migration to Germany even more succesful than it used to be over the last couple of years. There is nevertheless no need to stop thinking about how to improve the set of regulations that currently apply. From a corporate immigration law practioner’s standpoint, I am still convinced that with regard to the German immigration law system and its regulations there is still a lot to be changed. For instance, the fact that for many visa categories a local employment contract is a must does pose as many problems as the condition to have health insurance that is at least equivalent to German standards (this being rather difficult if not impossible to proof when having no local coverage). Moreover, processing times are still way too slow not to mention the lack of communication by some (not all of course) authorities. Finally, there should be access to a fast track procedure and to special authorities or competence centers whenever corporate immigration is at stake.
A final comment since this has been discussed a lot in Germany and perhaps also abroad over the last couple of days: It is by coincidence that on the same day the Federal President Gauck has been welcoming any immigrant to Germany by stressing that immigration is key to Germany whereas Chancellor Merkel has been making the point that Germany is not in favour of any misuse of the EU social union rights. This is however no contradiction since the issues at question do quite differ. Gauck has been addressing the issue from a more general standpoint in a speech at the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Federal Consitution whereas Merkel has been rather commenting on the opinion of the Advocate General preparing the upcoming decision of the European Court of Justice (that in most of the cases follows the opinion) according to which any member state can limit the social rights of EU nationals that have not really sought employmetn during their stay whils receiving social welfare benefits after a period of 6 months. To a certain extent her comment may also be put down to the fact that we are having elections on both the local and the EU level on Sunday so by her commente she has probably also tried to tiece some votes away from EU sceptical right wing parties (that unfortunately have a lot of access notably in the UK and France). At the end of day I do nevertheless strongly believe that both of them are in favour of migration to Germany and are absolutely right!
Looking forward it will be interesting to see if in 2014 Germany can keep the pace and continue or even increase its migration to the country so please stay tuned …