Feeds Topics Living Abroad The Impact of the New German Government Agreement

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    Deborah Etim
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    Germany is about to elect a new government, led by Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Olaf Scholz. He has put together an unusual three-way coalition with his center-left party, the progressive Greens, and the pro-business Free Democratic Party, or FDP, after weeks of deliberations. The coalition agreement has more substantial social and environmental initiatives than Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. The SPD is expected to take over the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, among other ministries, with vows to expand on Merkel’s growing international engagement and significant increases in development funding. The agreement fulfills the SPD’s pledge to retain the present aid spending objective of 0.7 percent of national revenue, with 0.2 percent going to developing nations.

    The government will follow through on incoming chancellor Olaf Scholz’s central election promise to raise the national minimum wage to €12 an hour, a move that will affect approximately 10 million people, particularly in the struggling regions, where the SPD performed well in September. The SDP campaigned for the return of a wealth tax in their election manifestos, but it did not make it through coalition talks. The incoming finance minister, Christian Lindner of the debt-averse FDP, is more likely to be an impediment than a booster to the two liberal left parties’ spending plans. The German Economic Institute in Cologne estimates that legalizing the restricted sale of cannabis for recreational use to adults will generate €2.5 billion in additional revenue per year.

    The new government recognizes the need for qualified professional immigration. They intend to extend the “Blue Card” visa to occupations that do not necessitate a university diploma. They also want to create a second option for overseas job seekers to come to Germany: a point-based visa, similar to the one used in Canada ten years ago. In order to bring more people to Germany, Ampel wants to decrease the educational requirements. However, in order to qualify for this visa, you must already have a job offer with a “normal market” pay.

    The Ampel coalition agreement (a nonbinding agreement between the three new governing parties on their common objectives for the next four years) intends to provide a legal right to work from home, similar to that which exists in the Netherlands. Technically, it’s a “right to dialogue,” which means you can ask your boss to work from home, and he or she can only reject if there’s a good reason.
    All three coalition parties have stated that multiple citizenships will be allowed. This means that after five years of lawful residence in Germany, you will be eligible to become a German citizen while keeping your original citizenship(s). After only three years, excellent immigrants can become citizens. A section also states that the coalition will examine whether foreign citizenship can be passed down through generations.

    Many immigrants to Germany wish to bring their parents to live with them and assist them in raising their children. Unfortunately, unless they are refugees, there is no legal way for non-EU citizens to do so. This isn’t going to change anytime soon.

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