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What Germany’s coalition plans mean for immigration and citizenship

People walk in Hamburg near the Elbe river earlier in October.
People walk in Hamburg near the Elbe river earlier in October. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Markus Scholz
Germany's SPD, Greens and FDP are going to start formal coalition talks. Here's what their initial plans set out for immigration to the country, and citizenship laws.

The three parties involved – the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP) – aim to enter into formal coalition negotiations in the coming weeks.

On Friday, the parties’ leadership and main election candidates unveiled their initial agreement on how they see the future of Germany. You can read an overview of the key points here:

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: What Germany’s three parties in coalition talks have agreed

So what about how the plans could affect foreigners in Germany or those who plan to come here in future? The draft gives a flavour of what the possible future German coalition would do. 

Immigration reform

The parties come across as immigration friendly – and it looks like they will overhaul the immigration system in a bid to attract skilled workers to plug the job shortage.

“Germany is a modern immigration country,” the SPD, Greens and FDP state. “Women and men from many countries have found their home here, started families and earn their living. Therefore, we want to create a modern citizenship law.

The three parties are generally in favour of easier routes to citizenship and changes to Germany’s strict dual citizenship laws.

“Those who are well integrated in Germany and can support themselves should be able to obtain a legally secure residence status more quickly. We want to make it possible to change lanes and improve integration opportunities,” the paper states. 

READ ALSO: 

According to the paper, the SPD, the Greens and the FDP want to introduce a points-based system for immigrants. This could work along the lines of similar systems in Canada, Australia or the UK.

This sees non-citizens looking for work earn points for things like education, language fluency, earnings or job offers. If they meet a certain score, they are allowed into the country.

Germany’s Skilled Immigration Act, which is aimed at easing restrictions and red tape for qualified professionals when migrating to Germany through simplified visa applications, came into force in March 2020.

READ ALSO: 10 things you need to know about Germany’s new law to attract skilled foreign workers

This law will be changed in some way, because the coalition parties say they want to make it “more practical”.

“We also want to introduce a points system as a second pillar for attracting qualified skilled workers,” they said.

Citizenship and catering to a ‘diverse society’

The coalition parties say they recognise that Germany is a “modern country, with great diversity in society”. 

“We see this diversity as an opportunity and want to organise fair participation in all areas and clearly oppose discrimination,” they said. 

The Greens' Annalena Baerbock, the SPD's Olaf Scholz and the FDP's Christian Lindner talk at a press conference on Friday.
The Greens’ Annalena Baerbock, the SPD’s Olaf Scholz and the FDP’s Christian Lindner talk at a press conference on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

The SPD, Greens and FDP are adamant that they want to change laws. 

“To this end, we will, among other things, adapt the law on citizenship, family law, the law on parentage and the transsexual law as well as the regulations on reproductive medicine and, for example, make shared communities of responsibility or a pact for living together possible.”

READ ALSO: Germany needs 500,000 new immigrants every year, says politician

What else do the coalition parties say when it comes to laws and safety?

Alongside pushing for “more preventative security” to make sure everyone in Germany feels safe “whether on the street, at home or online”, the parties also mention taking a hardline against people who commit hate crimes. 

“We will take resolute action in all areas against anti-Semitism, racism, right-wing extremism, Islamism, left-wing extremism, queer hostility and every other form of hostility, so that diversity and security is possible for everyone,” says the draft paper.

The parties say they will “strengthen women’s right to self-determination and promote independent livelihoods”.

“We want women and men to be able to participate equally in social decision-making and in working life, and to be in an equal position to secure their own livelihoods and provide for their old age,” they said.

“We want to counteract the discrimination of women in the labour market and improve the compatibility of family and work. We want to effectively reduce wage inequality between women and men. We will work for more diversity in the world of work and ensure that more women get into leadership positions.”

The initial agreement also states that they want to “expand the participation of citizens with disabilities – in the labour market and by promoting accessibility in everyday life, in housing and in the digital space”.

They also want to lower the voting age from 18 to 16.

Is this set in stone?

No. This is an initial agreement but when the coalition talks go ahead, there may be changes down the line to some aspects. 


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