Since December last year and then continuously growing since the beginning of this year the issues related to (corporate) immigration are getting more and more attraction in politics in Germany this being well reflected by many articles dealing with the issue in the press on a nearby daily basis. In my opinion this is due to various reasons:
Firstly, whereas the discussion – if and how corporate migration to Germany should be facilitated and how talent can be attracted to Germany – has been running at various levels for many years the topic recently has made it to the front pages due to the fact that from 1st January 2014 on Romanians and Bulgarians have been entitled to freely move within the EU without any limitation. It all started with a discussion in the UK that is rather hostile and driven by the fear that, after having taken on hundreds of thousands of Polish nationals after they have been granted full movement of labor rights effective as from 1st, January 2004, now the Romanians and Bulgarians would be “flooding” the country. Some politicians where even suggesting to limit the right of Bulgarians and Romanians to move to the UK and to engage into employment, which is absolutely pointless since any such peace of legislation would clearly be violating EU law.
Secondly, the discussion, which was mainly initiated by the UK, has also been taken up in many other Western European countries, including Germany where nationals from Romania and Bulgaria have been generally accused of wanting to migrate to Germany for the main (if not only) purpose of receiving social welfare benefits from the German state. The latter seems, however, to be proven wrong by statistics as recently published by the Cologne Institute for German economy according to which the percentage of academic backgrounds of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria is even higher than with German nationals. Moreover, many politicians and experts have made it clear that Germany should focus on creating an atmosphere of welcoming rather than trying to block the country for talent that is desperately needed.
Thirdly, the issue is getting attraction for a far more wide-reaching and general reason. According to statistics Germany – like many other EU member states – has both an aging and a decreasing workforce and population. Against this background, it is highly likely that in a number of years (not even decades) Germany will desperately need to rely on foreign workforce. Hence, it is stressed that instead of making the right to immigrate and work in Germany subject to the exception that no third-country national shall be allowed to engage into employment without a residence title allowing him or her to do so this should be rather changed to the opposite.
It is true that over the last couple of years it has been already made a lot easier to attract talent and to secure work permits for companies investing in Germany and the individuals that they want to employ. However, there is still potential for improvement and there are still too many bureaucratic obstacles making it to difficult or even impossible to get the right people into the country which must – based on the needs of nowadays business – often be realized at short notice. Germany needs to improve its system in order to make sure that immigrants feel that they are welcome in the country.
Gunther Mävers (firstname.lastname@example.org), Cologne, January 2014