Earthquake in Germany?

This week the German government is expected to pass a landmark immigration reform. The measure would allow migrants to work in Germany if they have skills if specified fields, such as engineering, information technology, or the sciences.

To be sure, the qualifications are many. It must be shown that no German can do the job. National security factors can be invoked to limit and restrict migrants. An earlier version of the bill would have let in lower and medium-skill migrants. Still, this is a long way from Helmut Kohl’s famous remark: “Germany is not a country of immigration.” Furthermore there would be no quotas under the proposed legislation.

For one summary of what is afoot, see the WSJ, 2 July, p.A9. Here is another summary of the proposed reforms. Here is some background context on the policy change. Note that the reforms attempt to manage immigration before EU constraints take over; in this regard also they fall short of a true liberalization.

So will this prove an earthquake in German politics? It depends how rigidly the entry standards are enforced. In any case the West European countries are badly in need of a basic model for greater immigration. Germany currently has many migrants but most are ethnic Germans and their flow has dried up. After all, there are only so many Volga Germans. This reform, however imperfect, should prove at least one step in the right direction.