Closing remarks at Seminar on Immigration at European Commission Representation

Botschafter Heimsoeth Bild vergrößern Botschafter Dr. Hans-Jürgen Heimsoeth (© Auswärtiges Amt)

Dear Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

A few days ago I came back from the state visit of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia to Germany. Their in-depth talk with Federal President Joachim Gauck dealt to a great deal with the recent refugee crisis. It was really interesting because it highlighted the differences of how we in Germany and how Sweden faces the enormous influx and also the common challenges.

The differences stem mostly from the asymmetric size of our countries and also from different historic experiences of our population, in Germany mainly in the so called Neue Bundesländer, the Eastern Part of Germany. The size might make some things easier for Germany but the historic stability Sweden has lived through is a trump card of its own in dealing with the challenges of today. In the same time we face the same challenges and you have talked a lot about this today.

As today’s speakers have emphasized: the influx of refugees into our two countries over the past years, with its peak in the fall of 2015, has put a lot of pressure on our societies. The newcomers need housing, food and clothing, but once these basic needs have been satisfied, they also want and need to strive for a living and get a fair chance to participate.

To achieve this, labour market integration is essential – yet, which concepts are most promising: quick employment or good employment, language training or vocational training, lower wages or subsidized work?

Experiences in Germany and Sweden have shown that integration results differ depending on policy approaches and labour market systems. Consequently, there is no one-fits-all-concept. Yet, in order to turn the so-called crisis into a chance for our countries and the newly arrived, a multi-stakeholder approach, where governments, social partners and other stakeholders act together, seems to be the most promising.

In order to pursue sustainable results, long-term approaches are necessary. Quick fixes can only remedy first needs. A successful integration strategy, which includes language training, vocational education and smooth labour market entries, could mitigate the demographic challenges and labour shortages our societies have been facing for quite some time.

If Sweden and Germany, as the top two receiving countries, take on the challenge and provide a second home for those who left everything behind, the effects might be manifold: potential burdens on public finances can be kept low, domestic economies will benefit and when times in Syrah and other war-stricken countries are changing, some migrants might want to use their newly-acquired skills and knowledge to rebuild their countries of origin.

I would like to thank all of you for coming and participating in this seminar and I am confident that both our countries will learn and confront the challenges successfully with the necessary resolution which they have proven in the past.