Germany “needs better rules” for citizenship, says Scholz – DW – November 26, 2022

Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for reforms to the country’s citizenship rules in a video message on Saturday.

Scholz’s coalition government – made up of his centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the environmentalists the Green Party and the neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) – made relaxing citizenship rules one of the priorities in their coalition agreement.

The plans were rejected by the conservative opposition.

What did Scholz say?

In his weekly video message, Scholz emphasized the essential role immigrants have played in rebuilding and strengthening Germany.

“For many, Germany has become a land of hope,” said the Chancellor. “The women and men and sometimes children who came to Germany have done a lot to make our economy as strong as it is today.”

Scholz noted that many who came to the country as guest workers decades ago, as well as those who have arrived in recent years, have put down roots in Germany. He recalled the “very moving” naturalization ceremonies that he attended in his previous role as mayor of Hamburg.

“And that’s why it’s good if those who have been living with us for so long also opt for German citizenship,” said the Chancellor.

“Germany needs better rules for the naturalization of these incredible women and men,” emphasized Scholz.

What are the proposed changes?

The Chancellor’s comments come a day after the Home Office said the draft law reforming the citizenship process was “almost ready”.

According to German media reports, the draft law would allow foreigners living in Germany to apply for citizenship after five years instead of the current eight years.

Naturalization could also be possible for people who have only been in Germany for three years if the applicants complete “special integration measures”. The reports did not provide further details on what these measures entail.

The bill could also potentially make dual citizenship easier for more immigrants in Germany. Dual citizenship is currently only permitted for Swiss and EU citizens.

On Friday, Home Secretary Nancy Faeser said reducing the waiting time for citizenship was “an incentive for integration” and that the reforms would try to reflect reality.

“We are a diverse, modern immigration country and I think legislation needs to reflect that,” she said.

Equal Opportunities for Migrants?

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opposition from the Conservatives

The proposed reforms have been harshly criticized by the conservative CDU/CSU bloc, which argues the changes may go too far.

“The cheap sale of German citizenship does not promote integration – it aims for exactly the opposite and will trigger additional ‘pull effects’ for illegal migration,” said the highest-ranking CDU member of the Bundestag, Alexander Dobrindt, to the daily newspaper picture newspaper saturday.

Citizenship reform plans could stall in the Bundesrat, where the Scholz coalition does not have a majority.

With 84 million inhabitants, Germany is the most populous country in the EU. The latest government statistics from 2021 show that 11.8 million of the country’s population are foreigners – about 14%.

rs/ar (AP, dpa)

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