Angela Merkel was right about refugee integration, says German business federation chief

Home / Angela Merkel was right about refugee integration, says German business federation chief

Employment figures which show 400,000 refugees are in work or training vindicate Angela Merkel’s approach to integration, the head of the German Employers’ Federation (BDA) has claimed. 

Ingo Kramer said Ms Merkel’s policy of allowing over a million refugees into the country had benefited the country’s businesses. 

“Yes, ‘we are doing it’ with integration,” Mr Kramer told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.

“Of more than one million people who have come to Germany since 2015, almost 400,000 have an apprenticeship or job.” he added.  

The BDA head said the speed with which refugees had found work had surprised him.

“Most young migrants can speak German so well after one year of instruction that they can participate in vocational school lessons,” he said, adding: "Our companies are making this happen.”

“Above all, the medium-sized firms are looking for [refugees as] employees.”

Alexander Gauland, leader of the populist AfD, responded by accusing Mr Kramer of ‘living on another planet’.

“German citizens are confronted on a daily basis with the consequences of the irresponsible policy of open borders: growing housing shortages, rising rents and a never-ending series of terrible assaults,” the AfD head claimed.

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Employment experts have also shown more caution. Acknowledging the fact that 600,000 refugees are reliant on social security payments, Thomas Liebig a migration expert at the OECD, told a radio station in August that “their way into the job market is long – we shouldn’t have any illusions about that.”

The ‘open-door’ policy caused much controversy when Ms Merkel announced it in 2015 with the words “we can do it”.

The phrase quickly turned into a worldwide rallying call for the refugee crisis, as the country opened its door to refugees mostly from Syria and Afghanistan. 

Local communities soon struggled under the financial strain of providing housing and schools to refugee families, and domestic opponents accused Ms Merkel of indulging in lofty rhetoric while leaving local authorities in the lurch. 

As public skepticism grew ahead of last year’s election, Ms Merkel promised to stop using the phrase all together.


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