Tim Wallace, The Telegraph, December 15, 2021
Germany is “an immigration country” that must do better at integrating new arrivals, according to its new Chancellor.
Olaf Scholz confronted the topic in his first speech to parliament since replacing Angela Merkel, setting out an integrationist agenda six years after a wave of migration from Syrian refugees made the borders a controversial issue in Europe’s biggest economy.
He told parliamentarians: “It is high time we understand ourselves. Therefore it’s high time we make it easier to become a German citizen. It is only on this basis that we can make full integration and political participation possible.”
Migration into Germany soared in 2015 with more than 2.1m arrivals and 1m departures in the year, driven in part by refugee numbers.
In 2016 Mrs Merkel admitted mistakes were made in the handling of the refugee crisis by failing to prepare more quickly for the mass exodus of people fleeing conflicts in the Middle East.
Flows fell back in subsequent years and dropped again last year in 2020 as Covid struck, lowering immigration to 1.2m and emigration to just under 1m, cutting net immigration to 200,000, its lowest level since 2010.
Mr Scholz said he would allow multiple citizenships, meaning immigrants could retain their existing nationality while also becoming Germans.
He took office last week at the head of a coalition made of his own Social Democrats as well as the Greens and the Free Democrats.