Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Tue Feb 20 10:56:42 MST 2001

> The BBC reports that attitudes are changing in the EU governments
> towards immigration, the Germans having introduced a "Green Card"
> plan for IT workers.

Actually it is nothing equivivalent to a US-Green Card, but more to a
H1B-visa, giving a five year staying and work permit.

> I am interested in the ulterior motives,
> demographic (more children), the docility of people whose residence
> status is unsure, the raising of tensions between ethnic communities
> along the lines of 'divide and rule' and so on.

Generally I am not sure whether there is a more liberal mood on immigration
across all of the European governments. I think Spain has just passed a more
strict foreigner law. In the UK there is a discussion of reducing the
numbers of political refugees.

In Germany there has been a slight modification of the citizenship law, that
went into effext at the beginning of last year, making naturalization a bit
easier mostly for second generation immigrants.

At the moment there is much talk about a comprehensive new regulation
resulting in something like an 'immigration law'. The Red-Green government
is handling the issue very defensively shifting it to a commission of
experts headed by (liberal) CDU-politician Rita Süssmuth. The CDU has its
own commision headed by Sarre state governor Peter Müller. Both commissions
are about to make proposals at the end of this year. This is a sort of
delaying tactic because next year there are going to be elections and the
present parliament will not decide anything before the end of the term.

The economic background for the modest shift in policies is twofold: In
certain sectors of the economy there is a severe shortage of workforce,
mainly in the health service, agriculture and IT. (E.g. Sueddeutsche Zeitung
reported on Saturday that 45% of all employees in the hospitals are
foreigners, given the high percentage of German doctors one could guess
almost 2/3 of the nurses are non-German). On a longer perspective
demographic issues are important, with Germany having the lowest

The issue is highly sensible because foreigners have been portrayed by
almost all politicians as some alien danger threatening Germany in various
ways over the last twenty years. Now the discussion has shifted a bit:
Bourgeois ideologues are making a distinction between 'useful' and other

If you go to and choose IN FOCUS: Welcome to Germany? in the
right column you will get to a quite comprehensive selection of English
language articles from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reflecting the
mainstream discussion in Germany.


More information about the Marxism mailing list