Providing pre-immigration support

11th Integration Summit at the Federal Chancellery Providing pre-immigration support

How can we help people who aim to come to Germany before they actually arrive? This was the question addressed by the 11th Integration. Before the summit, Chancellor Angela Merkel met with representatives of migrants’ organisations to discuss the consequences of the racist attacks in Hanau.

Chancellor Angela Merkel at the start of the Integration Summit at the Federal Chancellery

Canada's Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship , Marco Mendicino, was an invited guest at the 11th Integration Summit at the Federal Chancellery

Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

The main consequence of the right-wing terrorist attack in Hanau is that a Cabinet committee on right-wing extremism and racism is to be established, announced Chancellor Angela Merkel following the integration summit and in response to her earlier meeting with migrants’ organisations.

A Cabinet committee is established to deal with issues that are seen to be of exceptional political importance. The issue is then addressed intensively at top political level.

Meeting with migrants’ organisations

Before the integration summit began, Angela Merkel met with representatives of migrants’ organisations to discuss consequences following the recent racist attacks. " We have had terrible incidents," she said at the meeting. Following events in Halle, the government had already adopted a package of measures. This was followed on 19 February 2020 by a bill to address right-wing extremism and hate crime (Gesetzentwurf gegen Rechtsextremismus und Hasskriminalität), to make it clear that xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and hostility towards other religions and skin colours, "is a major issue and a huge concern to us, the German government, and a matter where we obviously see our responsibility," said the Chancellor.

Preparing for Germany

"How should we word the support we are offering people who want to come to us? How is it relayed by the media?" asked the Chancellor at the integration summit. This issue is addressed by Phase 1 of the National Integration Plan (NAPI). It is about preparing people who want to come to Germany as skilled workers. It focuses on culture, language and the thorny issue of having professional qualifications recognised in Germany.

The Federal Government Commissioner for Integration Annette Widmann-Mauz underlined the fact that the German side must focus more on the pre-integration phase. This includes providing information about legal migration and improving training systems in the countries of origin so that qualifications can be more easily recognised in Germany.

Skilled Worker Immigration Act in force

Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil praised the integration summit as an important way of organising how we live together, since all relevant associations and groups are represented. Like the Chancellor before him, he pointed out that the new Skilled Worker Immigration Act came into effect on 1 March 2020, marking an important step forward in ensuring a supply of skilled workers. Germany does not want to repeat the mistakes it made in the past when, to quote Max Frisch, "We called for workers, and people came." 

Guides to help have qualifications recognised

To facilitate and accelerate the recognition of foreign qualifications, a central service unit has been set up in Bonn, with guides who are to help people navigate the complexities of foreign professional qualifications recognised.

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier pointed to three pilot projects with Brazil, India and Viet Nam, which are demonstrating how language skills can be organised in conjunction with occupations.

Speaking with us – not about us

In her statement, Sylvie Nantcha, Federal Chairperson of the African Network of Germany (TANG), pointed once again to the sad consequences of the Hanau attack. "We have long been part of society, and we deserve to be recognised within society". This is why she was pleased to see the swift decision of the German government to put in place a Cabinet committee on right-wing extremism, she said. With a view to the integration summit, she noted that the government is engaging with migrants’ organisations. "The government is speaking with us – not about us".

A visitor from Canada

The Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino was a special guest. He explained how Canada organises immigration.