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Germany: Improving Migration Management

Well-managed migration involves creating benefits for our country that do not come at the expense of the local population or countries of origin. Based on empirical research, the Bertelsmann Stiftung develops reform proposals for the effective and fair management of all forms of migration.

Migration holds immense potential. For example, well-managed migration enriches our country by creating jobs, sparking innovation, generating tax revenue and enabling cultural exchange. In addition ‒ in the sense of the so-called triple win ‒ it allows migrants to climb the social ladder and improve their living standard. Origin countries also benefit thanks to the transfer of money, knowledge and social resources. Migration is thus not a zero-sum game. Effective migration management additionally helps Germany meet its responsibility to people in need of protection, enabling such individuals to live lives free of persecution and war.

However, migration also holds risks. These include the exploitation of migrants, which also works to the detriment of native-born workers; the possibility of anti-foreigner propaganda campaigns and fear-mongering by right-wing populists; and so-called brain drain in countries of origin. In order to develop migration’s positive potential and minimize its risks, migration policy must be proactive, effective and fair. Thus, good migration management is also a fundamental precondition for an open society that welcomes migrants, accepts diversity and promotes participation.

Working with national and international partners, the Bertelsmann Stiftung draws on empirical insights to develop reform proposals for the effective and fair management of migration. In this process, migration is regarded holistically, and encompasses all forms of entry, including employment-based or skilled-worker migration, education-related migration, family reunification and humanitarian migration. A crucial element of this is the effort to disentangle mixed-migration streams ‒ for example, by making certain that labor immigrants and refugees are not forced into (irregular) migration routes, aided by human traffickers.

Developing concepts for forward-looking migration management

Germany must be an attractive destination country for skilled workers, who are helping us to deal with labor market shortages and thus ameliorating the effects of demographic change. In this way, immigration complements domestic strategies seeking to improve the employment of the local population. To this end, we have published an edited volume that explores skilled-labor migration in the context of a new migration law from a variety of perspectives. The publication provides an impetus for a new immigration law that simplifies existing immigration opportunities and manages immigration in a transparent, fair and effective way. In addition, the Bertelsmann Stiftung published a study on coping with mixed migration more effectively.

Developing indicators measuring appeal for skilled-labor migration

In 2017, the influx of skilled workers accounted for only 7 percent of overall immigration from non-European countries to Germany. Working with a partner organization, the Bertelsmann Stiftung is developing international comparative indicators with the aim of quantitatively assessing the degree to which the country appeals to skilled-labor migrants, identifying weaknesses and deriving recommendations enabling Germany to attract more skilled workers.

Taking full advantage of the EU's internal mobility

In some years, people from other EU countries account for around 60% of total migration to Germany. We will examine the exact impact of this immigration, and offer proposals for designing internal mobility within the EU so as to provide still greater opportunities.

Proactively shaping incoming refugee migration

Germany has the obligation, anchored in its Basic Law, to provide shelter to people in need of protection. The number of refugee arrivals in 2015 and 2016 made clear just how challenging this can be. Asylum-driven migration must be managed proactively, taking into account all relevant policy fields, rather relying on the reactive mode of crisis management. For example, people with protected status must be shown paths toward integration into the labor market.

Video: Mixed Migration - How can we distinguish refugees from labor migrants?