BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s governing parties agreed early Thursday on a broad range of measures to help the country integrate those among the 1.1 million migrants who arrived last year who are granted asylum.
The measures, which will be discussed with state governors before they’re presented to Parliament, seek to strike a balance between giving migrants easier access to jobs and integration courses while also increasing expectations of them.
Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters the proposals make clear that “there are duties and obligations for all who come to us.”
The measures foresee creating 100,000 government-funded “job opportunities” for migrants, according to a copy of the plan obtained by The Associated Press, and the suspension for three years of a rule that asylum-seekers are initially excluded from jobs unless no German or European Union citizen can fill them.
“The core idea is to attempt to integrate as many people in the labor force as possible,” Merkel said.
One of the key components to Merkel’s attempts so far to deal with the influx of migrants has been to streamline the system so that those fleeing conflict and persecution and likely to receive asylum will receive it faster, whereas so-called “economic” migrants unlikely to receive asylum will be sent home quickly.
In line with that, the jobs being created wouldn’t be available to economic migrants, according to the plan.
However, orientation courses for migrants that are being expanded as part of the proposal would still be encouraged for those with little chance of receiving asylum, with the idea that some will stay and would benefit from them while others would still profit from the training when they returned to their homelands.
Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the idea of creating an integration law for the first time in Germany was a “historic step” and called the proposed measures “a good foundation.”
Other elements include reducing the waiting times for integration courses teaching German, but they’ll be made mandatory for more migrants, including those who already have some basic German language skills.
In an attempt to prevent the formation of ghettos by migrants all flocking to certain cities, or even certain neighborhoods, the new regulations would take away benefits from anyone who moves away from where they have been officially resettled. Details will have to be determined by individual states, but the measure foresees allowing migrants to resettle if they find a job elsewhere.