Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet approved a draft law overhauling the nation’s citizenship rules that would allow people to hold multiple passports and is designed to facilitate the integration of foreigners into Europe’s biggest economy.
(Bloomberg) — Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet approved a draft law overhauling the nation’s citizenship rules that would allow people to hold multiple passports and is designed to facilitate the integration of foreigners into Europe’s biggest economy.
Some 14% of the population — or 12 million people — don’t hold German citizenship, and almost half have lived in the country for at least ten years, according to interior ministry figures. Naturalization in Germany lags well behind the European Union average, with a rate of 1.1% compared with 2% for the wider bloc, in part because people have generally been required to give up their previous citizenship to get a German passport.
Opposition parties — in particular the anti—immigrant Alternative for Germany — have attacked the plans and expressed concerns over allowing easier access to German nationality. The ruling coalition has highlighted that the new rules will require applicants to commit to democratic values, to be able to provide for themselves and family members, and to have a working knowledge of the German language.
“We are in the middle of a global competition for the best minds,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser was quoted as saying Wednesday in an interview with media group RND.
“We want people who have long been part of our society to also be able to help shape our country democratically,” she added. “Many immigrants feel like Germans, but do not want to completely cut ties to their country of origin. In the future, they will no longer be forced to give up part of their identity.”
According to the draft law approved Wednesday, a citizenship application will be possible after five years instead of the current eight and that could be cut to three years for people who are deemed especially well integrated.
The proposals — which will now go to parliament for consultation — also include special treatment for the guest workers who came to West and East Germany in the decades following World War II. They will be naturalized if they can speak reasonable German in their every day lives and their next of kin will no longer need to pass a citizenship test.
Additional details from the draft law include:
- Citizenship will be granted to all children born in the country from foreign parents
- Newborns can retain their parents’ citizenship if at least one of the parents has lived in Germany for more than five years, instead of eight as required by the previous law, and has unlimited right of residence
–With assistance from Michael Nienaber.
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