“A steady job isn’t enough for complete integration into our country,” Böhmer, a member of Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, said in Berlin.
The experience of recent decades had proved the need for immigrants make a concerted effort to integrate, she said.
“We still have to struggle even today with past neglect. So it’s all the more important not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
On Sunday, May 1, Germany and Austria apply the “freedom of movement for workers” chapter of EU law, having deferred the chapter for the maximum allowed seven years.
Citizens of the “EU-8” countries – Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – will be able to work, without restriction, in Europe’s biggest economy.
Immigration and integration belonged together, Böhmer said. Good German language skills were essential to integration, she said, adding that there should be German courses for migrants from EU countries.e
At present only immigrants from countries outside the EU are actually required to take language courses. Böhmer said both the state and employers should support immigrants who wanted to bring their families, for instance to help spouses find work, with children’s schooling and in dealings with immigration department officials.
“Only people who are socially integrated can truly feel at home in our country,” Böhmer said.