In the face of a new financial crisis, military conflicts, and the exacerbation of the refugee problem, many countries are grappling with the same question: how to modernise their migration policy. While the UK addresses this issue through legislative means, Germany, for example, is facing a more complex situation.
Surprisingly, the ratings of the “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) party have risen, catching many political analysts off guard. This is despite the controversial connections of AfD politicians with right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis (or perhaps because of them) and the disclosed plans for mass deportations. Regularly appearing at fundraisers, far-right figures, with the support of major entrepreneurs and AfD, presented a deportation plan to North Africa for millions of people, including those with German citizenship deemed “insufficiently assimilated.” Despite widespread condemnation and large-scale protests throughout Germany, AfD is already claiming victory in three eastern states of Germany (Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia) in the 2024 elections.
On the other hand, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has also made a policy statement on migration. In his interview for Spiegel, he emphasised the need for a nuanced approach to each applicant and outlined a comprehensive package of measures. Some key proposals include the classification of certain countries as safe, simplification of visa processes, and a more effective resolution of migration issues. According to him, there needs to be a balance between controlled immigration and providing asylum to those who truly need it. Additionally, Scholz introduced a new “EU solidarity mechanism” aimed at promoting the fair distribution of refugees and the burden of their support among member countries.
The German government understands that qualified migrants playa crucial role in the country’s development, especially considering the shortage of 700,000 key technical specialists. Therefore, reforms were implemented in June to simplify the visa regime, lowering the required salary threshold for work permits and language proficiency levels. However, are these measures sufficient?
Despite the efforts made, many problems persist. Obtaining a tax identification number, opening a bank account, and overcoming various bureaucratic obstacles remain difficult and time-consuming. The situation is exacerbated by insufficient digitalisation processes and language barriers, hindering the integration of talented professionals into the German job market.
For migrants seeking to start their business in Germany, the path is also fraught with additional difficulties. Navigating bureaucratic mazes—from company registration to obtaining loans for non-citizens—proves to be a challenging task. Some entrepreneurs, to save time and money, opt for alternative destinations such as Estonia or the Netherlands, where processes are more streamlined.
Nevertheless, a significant number of successful technology companies in Germany are founded by migrants. Enterprises like Auto1, Omio, GetYourGuide, Research Gate, Delivery Hero, and the innovative BioNTech, responsible for the Covid-19 vaccine, are examples of expats positively contributing to the country’s economy. Business migrants make up 21% of the country’s startups! However, according to statistics, they receive a smaller share of funding compared to their German counterparts. The country lacks an environment that could impartially support innovations and new ideas regardless of the founder’s citizenship.
It appears that overcoming the contradictions of migration policy requires a shift in thinking at the state level. Considering the factors contributing to AfD’s stability, including social instability, economic problems, and the impact of the pandemic, it’s noticeable that despite significant differences in the political views of Scholz and AfD leaders, there is some convergence of positions between the German government and the far-right “Alternative for Germany.”
Of course, Scholz emphasizes a focus on controlled immigration and, if discussing deportation, only for those who do not have the right to stay in the country, unlike AfD. But how many individual cases will need to be reconsidered to decide the fates of people: who is deserving of living in Africa and who in Europe? And since the complex digital processes of migration services cannot be resolved due to a lack of personnel, it seems that vacancies will have to be opened again, and expats invited once more.