SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Immigration to Germany in the decades following World War II made the Federal Republic the host of the largest number of immigrants in Europe. The size of the population with an immigration background is on the order of 15 million, nearly one-fifth of the total population. (Many of these are ethnic German returnees.) Although restrictive policies and a less dynamic economy in recent years slowed the annual number of immigrants and asylum seekers, the interrelated demographic influences of very low fertility, negative natural population increase, and population aging make continuing future immigration likely and, judged by influential domestic interests, desirable. Anxieties about inadequate integration of immigrants in German society are, however, apparently strongly felt by large segments of the native population. The “Grand Coalition” government that took office in November 2005 considers the formation of an effective policy of integration a high priority. On 14 July 2006 an “Integration Summit” was convened in the Chancellery with the active participation of representatives of immigrant groups. Chancellor Angela Merkel called the Summit “an almost historical event.” Reproduced below in full is a non-official English translation of a government statement (entitled “Good coexistence—Clear rules”) presented to the participants at the opening of the meeting. Intended as a “start of the development of a national integration plan,” the statement highlights existing deficiencies of integration, especially problems with second- and third-generation immigrants: lack of mastery of the German language, weaknesses in education and training, high unemployment, lack of acceptance of the basic rules of coexistence, and violation of the law. The importance of these issues is underlined by a demographic fact noted in the statement: by 2010 it is expected that in Germany's large cities 50 percent of the population under age 40 will have an immigrant background. The statement recognizes the government's responsibility to help immigrants learn German and become better informed about the country's laws, culture, history, and political system. In turn, it demands reciprocal efforts from migrants living permanently and lawfully in Germany. The original German text of the statement is available at the Bundeskanzleramt home page: «http://www.bundesregierung.d»