Schroeder’s last-ditch efforton immigration law reform
7 May 2004
BERLIN – After a week of growing tensions over the government’s immigration reforms, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s ruling Social Democrat-Green Party is planning to make what could a last-ditch effort to gain opposition support for the changes.
In the wake of moves by the Green Party to pull out of the negotiations with the conservative-led opposition over the new immigration law, Schroeder is to hold talks with opposition leaders to try to establish whether an agreement was possible.
This follows a round of coalition talks in Berlin Thursday and Friday aimed at trying to break the deadlock over the new immigration law that was introduced into parliament more than two years ago.
But the Christian Democrat-led opposition blocked the reforms in the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, where it has a majority, resulting in the new laws being dispatched to a special parliamentary mediation committee where they have languished ever since.
Since then, 12 rounds of talks between the government and the opposition have failed to break the impasse over the laws.
The latest obstacle in the marathon negotiations on the immigrations reforms has been the opposition’s insistence that the security provisions for detaining foreign extremists and terrorists should be toughened up.
While the government has agreed to the request, the Greens originally had rejected it claiming that the opposition was trying to make political capital out of the talks and a result of the dispute walked out of the talks. They have since agreed to return to the talks.
Widely supported by German business, the law represent another step in the opening up the nation’s labour market to foreign workers with the reforms aimed at people from non-European Union nations.
About 7.3m foreigners live in Germany, representing about 9 percent of the population, which the highest proportion in the European Union. Germany, however, lacks immigration laws, which would allow it to regulate the flow of skilled workers into the nation.
The proposed immigration reforms, which would bring German laws into line with nations such as Canada and Australia, follows Berlin’s moves to liberalise Germany’s antiquated citizenship laws and the introduction of a US-style Green Card to encourage skilled labour to come of the country.
Indeed, German business sees the new immigration laws as a way of helping to meet skilled labour shortages in the nation.
Germany’s shortages of skilled labour, however, comes at a time when the country has been hit by high unemployment, which have also made the immigration reforms unpopular in the electorate.
Faced with soaring deficits across its welfare system and a rapidly agreeing population, Germany also needs to consider drawing in immigrants as a way of addressing problems in its social state.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: German news