The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

Germany eases citizenshi­p rules in a bid to end labour shortages


Germany is getting “one of the modest modern immigratio­n laws in the world”, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser boasted in August as her government unveiled a bill to overhaul citizenshi­p rules.

It’s part of a drive to entice people to live and work in Germany long term as the country grapples with a crippling labour shortage.

Faeser of the Social Democrats (SPD), which leads the coalition with the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP), said Germany is in “a worldwide competitio­n for the best minds”, but workers can only be won over if they can “become fully part of our society, with all democratic rights”.

However, with increasing scrutiny on migration and concerns over anti-Semitism amid the crisis in the Middle East, the law faces a rocky road to becoming reality.

Under Germany’s current restrictiv­e citizenshi­p rules, people from non-EU countries are not allowed to hold multiple nationalit­ies unless there’s an exception.

The planned reforms include allowing people to hold more than one passport when they become German and cutting the residence requiremen­t for citizenshi­p from eight to five years.

The law, which is due to come into force next year after being voted on by the German parliament, sets out a fast-track citizenshi­p option requiring only three years of residence for those who are well integrated and with advanced language skills.

For the roughly 168,000 Brits in Germany, the changes are a relief as many see becoming German as a way to regain EU rights. Under the new rules they won’t have to renounce their British nationalit­y.

Matt Bristow from the campaign group British in Germany, told the Sunday Post: “Since the Brexit referendum was first announced, dual citizenshi­p has been a very important issue for British people in Germany.”

Bristow said Brexit sparked a wave of applicatio­ns, with more than 40,000 Brits becoming German citizens since 2016. Those who were eligible to apply before the end of the Brexit

Germany is changing its immigratio­n rules in hopes of attracting more talent to the country. transition period were able to become dual citizens – as is the case for all EU nationals in Germany.

“So the change in the law mostly affects British people who arrived in Germany within the last 10 years, who by definition tend to be younger,” said Bristow. “For this group, as well as for other migrant communitie­s of other nationalit­ies, the new citizenshi­p law cannot come soon enough.”

Floraidh Clement, who is from Fife and has lived in Berlin for six years, said it will pave the way for her to “become part of German society and to vote”.

“Right now as somebody who is not German and not in the EU, I feel very locked out of being able to do anything in that regard,” the 29-year-old social media manager said.

But holding on to her British passport is essential.

“I always want to have the insurance to go home if I want to, while being able to commit to the country I’ve chosen to make my home,” Clement said.

Around 14% of Germany’s 84 million people – just under 12 million – don’t hold German citizenshi­p and about half this group has been in the country for more than 10 years, according to government figures.

The new law includes carveouts aimed at the so-called ‘guest-worker generation’, who came to Germany to fill the demand for labour after the war. Many people from this community are Turkish but have never felt able to become German without the option for dual citizenshi­p.

Pascal Meiser, an MP for The Left in Berlin’s diverse Kreuzberg district, said he supports the reforms.

“Millions of people in our country – and thousands of them in Berlin – have been living here for years and don’t have the same rights as a German citizen and this has to change,” he said.

Hakan Demir, a Social Democrat MP who is part of the team working on the legislatio­n, said giving this group an easier route to citizenshi­p was a form of “late recognitio­n”.

“The guest workers built up this nation with their German colleagues in the 50s and 60s and so on,” he said. “We have measures that will make it easier for them to get German citizenshi­p and I think that’s fair.”

Along with citizenshi­p changes, Germany recently approved far-reaching labour migration laws aimed at cutting red tape for skilled workers from non-EU countries.

Michael Kruse, an MP for the Free Democrats, said: “We have lots of open jobs – more than one million – we need to send signs that we want people to come here, and German citizenshi­p is one of the signs that says ‘if you want to contribute to society and the economy then you can also become German’.”

Not everyone supports the relaxation of laws. The opposition Christian Democrats, the party of former chancellor Angela Merkel, have rallied against the changes, citing worries over migration and not enough integratio­n.

Recently they’ve argued that the reforms should be dropped because of what they see as anti-Semitic pro-Palestine demonstrat­ions. Protests calling for a ceasefire have taken place across Germany following Israel’s bombardmen­t of Gaza in response to the terror attacks on Israel by Hamas on October 7th.

Even within the government there are talks to tighten up the proposed law around antiSemiti­sm further, delaying the process.

The RRS Discovery in Dundee looks spectacula­r as it is poignantly lit up in red on Wednesday as part of the Light Up Red campaign ahead of Armistice Day in support of the 2023 Scottish Poppy Appeal.

Jane Barlow/PA

Scotland’s national piper Louise Marshall plays alongside the Poppy Mural at the Kennoway Memorial Garden in Fife ahead of

Remembranc­e S across the count two world wars a

unday. Services will be held ry to honour those lost in the s well as conflicts around the globe. The King and Queen will join the service at The Cenotaph in London.

Jane Barlow/PA

Mountains and beaches. That pretty much sums up my month – and I can think of worse ways to spend time.

First up was a trip to Glen Coe and the iconic Buachaille Etive Mòr. It’s a mountain I’ve climbed, walked and scrambled up more times than I can remember. I was with my pal Euan, his son Ross and Storm, the dug. It was Ross’s first time on the hill – his excitement and enthusiasm were contagious.

No sooner do we arrive home than we start planning our next adventures – and, like any dedicated fan of The Scots Magazine, it’s within these pages that I find my inspiratio­n – and there’s plenty of it!

The Oban Winter Festival has caught my eye, and I might pay a visit to the fantastic-looking gin festival in Glasgow. And while I’m in our biggest city, I quite fancy the idea of a tour of the Necropolis – something I’d never have thought of, if it hadn’t been for Morag Lindsay’s brilliant article. Enjoy!

Robert Wight Scots Magazine Editor

John’s sharp wit. The second is pensive – a hymn of praise confirming John’s love for this beautiful corner of Argyll.

“I have a strong faith. It has always helped me,” he says. “I wrote that one after I had cancer during my mid- thirties. I feel so lucky to have survived and to live here.”

John’s father was a stonemason on the Ardchattan Estate. He, too, was versatile, fulfilling numerous roles, including that of boat pilot. Tragically, in 1974, he drowned in an accident aged 46.

John became very close to his mother and nursed her until her recent passing. He speaks of her with great feeling. Family connection­s are very important; he frequently sees his brother, and his sister Sheila, who is two years younger, shares his birthday. Each year on May 1 – Beltane – they hold a bonfire party by the loch. John checks the tide tables and, after cladding up in safety gear, we walk to the jetty opposite his house. He insists I wait while he rows out to bring his tiny boat over. “No need for wet feet,” he smiles.

We putter down to Connel Bridge. “It was opened in 1903 solely as a railway bridge to take the Ballachuli­sh branch of the Callander and Oban Railway,” John tells me. “In 1914, it was altered to allow cars but, being narrow, it wasn’t possible for them to use it at the same time as a train. Now it is only used by cars and pedestrian­s.”

The water flowing beneath this cantilever bridge is benign today but, as the tide goes out, the boisterous Falls of Lora are generated when water levels in the sea drop below that in Loch Etive. As seawater flows out of the loch’s narrow entrance, it gathers momentum over a rocky shelf, causing the rapids. When the tide rises, there is a period of slack water as the levels are the same on either side. However, the narrow entrance raises the tide faster than water can flow into the loch.

“Usually slack water is at high and low tides. Here on the Falls of Lora, slack water occurs when the levels on either side are the same, not when the tidal change is at its least. As a result, the tidal range is greater on the coast than inside the loch. A 3m (10ft) range at Oban may produce only a 1.3m (4ft) range at Bonawe.”

We cruise gently back up the loch. Every house, rock and headland unleashes another of John’s reminiscen­ces. He points to a Special Area of Conservati­on comprising remnants of sessile oakwoods.

“You will have noticed that the loch narrows considerab­ly at Taynuilt. It was previously the site of a ferry running to Bonawe. To begin with, it was purely for passengers, but it became a turntable car ferry before closing in 1966 when the railway shut.”

We stand outside his house, Ben Cruachan to the east.

“I love this place – it’s vital we can continue to use this sea loch for transporta­tion. Ardchattan is where my heart lies, and my life will always be here.”

On November 17 1989 thousands of university students gathered in the Czechoslov­ak capital, Prague, for a peaceful demonstrat­ion to commemorat­e Internatio­nal Students’ Day.

Their protest would trigger the momentous events which would in effect end the rule of communism in the country a mere 10 days later.

That peaceful student protest, which ended with brutal violence in central Prague when riot police severely beat students taking part in the demonstrat­ion, led to what would later become known as the Velvet Revolution, an avalanche of popular protests, held almost daily in Czech and Slovak cities.

It lead to the appointmen­t of the country’s first non-communist government in more than four decades and the election of Vaclav Havel, a playwright turned dissident, to the post of president.

Alexander Dubcek, the communist leader whose opening up of Czechoslov­akia in 1968 – known as the Prague Spring – only for the Soviet Union to send in half a million troops to topple him from power and reverse his reforms, was elected Czechoslov­ak Speaker. The communist government had to admit defeat and step down.

The protest marked the 50th anniversar­y of a violently suppressed demonstrat­ion against the Nazi storming of Prague University in 1939 where 1,200 students were arrested and nine killed.

Vaclav Havel.

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