Germany welcomes immigrants from Europe’s South

Green jobs construction buildings.JPG

While Britain is trying to contain the influx of immigrants, Germany is making efforts to attract skilled workers from crisis-hit Southern Europe, various European media report.

As the financial crisis in Europe continues to put pressure on job-seekers, thousands of Greeks, Spaniards and Portuguese are coming to Germany, to escape economic problems in their native countries.

Moreover, Germany is welcoming these immigrants and putting measures in place designed to make them feel comfortable.

This development may appear surprising against the backdrop of calls by British Prime Minister David Cameron to radically decrease “from hundreds of thousands a year to just tens of thousands” EU migrants arriving in the UK.

>> Read: Cameron announces tough measures to discourage immigrants

The German English-language website The Local quotes the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden, according to which 306,000 foreigners from other EU countries moved to Germany during the first half of 2012 – 24% more than the first half of the previous year. Experts consider this a success.

"We should be happy about this immigration," social scientist Steffen Kröhnert from the Institute for Population and Development reportedly said. Between 2002 and 2010, Germany's population decreased by about 800,000 people. Moreover, there is a need for young and qualified professional newcomers in the ageing German society. "This is the gap that the immigrants are filling," added Kröhnert.

Unemployed people from countries hit by the financial crisis make use of the opportunity to work in the economically better off nations of the EU. "This benefits everyone: Germany can do away with the shortage of skilled workers, while the EU citizens find work and unburden the job market in their home countries," Gunilla Fincke, director of the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration, said according to The Local.  

A Greek immigrant is quoted on the web site saying that if the situation in his native country doesn’t improve, he would expect many more of his nationals to move to Germany.

Another specialised local news site ‘The Staffing Industry’ writes that overall demand remains high for workers in industry, as well as retail/wholesale, health and social care, gastronomy and the public sector.

Germany has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, with 5.4% in February.

“The German labour market remains solid as a rock, defying the winter weather and the euro crisis,” Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING in Brussels, according to The Staffing Industry.

As Germany wants to boost immigration of skilled workers, Deutsche Welle writes that new initiatives are being put in place to make newcomers feel welcome.

A welcome bag, a smartphone app and personal counseling prior to arrival in Germany are new measures intended to make moving to Germany from abroad easier. The bag contains informational material, important Internet addresses and telephone numbers. And the first stop in Germany may no longer be the immigration office, but rather a welcome center, Deutsche Welle reports.

But although immigration procedures in Germany have already been relaxed, there's been no boom in new arrivals of skilled workers. According to the International Organization for Cooperation and Development (OECD), five to 10 times as many workers are preferring relocation to countries like Australia, Denmark or Canada, rather than Germany.

In the Employment Package adopted in April 2012, the European Commission proposed a new approach for employment policy, advancing a jobs-centred paradigm where labour is a most precious resource and productive employment a source of growth, rather than a delayed consequence of the recovery.

At the June 2012 European Council, EU heads of state and government adopted a €120-billion 'Compact for growth and jobs'.

The Compact puts an emphasis on both tackling unemployment and addressing the social consequences of the crisis, referring to sections in the Employment Package on quality job-creation, structural reform towards dynamic labour markets, investment in human capital and improving multilateral surveillance of employment policies.

At the last EU summit on 14-15 March, EU leaders pushed for the implementation of measures adopted at the June Council.

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