Germany’s Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has emphasized the urgent need for an accelerated influx of skilled workers from outside the European Union (EU). He made this statement while presenting a comprehensive nationwide program called “the Germany Pact,” which aims to modernize the country.
During his speech, Scholz argued that Germany cannot survive without a steady supply of foreign workers, emphasizing that those who claim otherwise have not spoken to medium-sized company owners or hospital operators. He also pointed out that around 13 million workers are expected to retire by the middle of the next decade in Germany.
To address this issue, Scholz called on federal and regional authorities to reduce bureaucratic hurdles for potential immigrants. He emphasized the importance of adhering to recently adopted laws on skilled workforce immigration to ensure that individuals, such as nurses from Georgia and IT specialists from India, do not have to wait for months to obtain visas or work permits.
Scholz also highlighted that his government has made significant progress in combating illegal immigration. However, he stressed the need to focus on attracting and facilitating legal immigration to meet the country’s labor demands.
The “Germany Pact” proposed by Scholz is envisaged as a nationwide effort to modernize various sectors of the economy. The comprehensive program includes initiatives such as large-scale digitalization of public administration procedures, reducing bureaucratic burdens on businesses, ensuring clean and safe energy, and expanding housing construction.
In response to Scholz’s proposals, Friedrich Merz, the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and part of the conservative bloc in the parliament, acknowledged the willingness of the opposition to engage in reasonable proposals. However, he maintained that addressing illegal immigration should be prioritized, as he considered it the most significant issue.
Merz also criticized the government for adopting a paternalistic view of the state’s role in the economy, suggesting that Germany already suffers from excessive bureaucracy.
According to Germany’s state statistics agency, net immigration into the country amounted to nearly 1.5 million people in 2022. The data also revealed that 2.7 million individuals arrived in Germany last year, with 1.1 million coming from Ukraine alone. Germany is currently home to approximately 13.4 million foreigners, and nearly 24 million people out of its total population of 83.2 million have an immigration background, according to the agency.
A recent poll conducted in Germany indicated that a majority of citizens desire stricter immigration policies and asylum procedures. Approximately half of the respondents also expressed the desire for the country to accept fewer refugees than it currently does. The survey revealed that 54% of Germans believe that the disadvantages of immigration outweigh its benefits, while only 33% hold the opposite view.
The issue of immigration continues to be a contentious topic in Germany, with differing opinions on the extent to which foreign workers should be welcomed. The government’s focus on attracting skilled workers highlights the need to address labor shortages and ensure the country’s economic stability in the long term.