Europe grapples with the sudden influx of war refugees wanting to settle as asylum seekers in the region. While many of the European Union member countries, the UK and U.S., are extra selective with the number of refugees they would want to take in, Germany was extraordinarily generous.
On Tuesday, Germany’s vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, announced that they could take as much as 500,000 refugees each year for several years. This is after a previous announcement of receiving 800,000 asylum seekers for this year.
“I believe we could surely deal with something in the order of half a million for several years. I have no doubt about that, maybe more,” Mr. Gabriel was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
According to a European Commission’s projections from its Ageing Report published in March 2015, Germany’s population will shrink from 81.3 million in 2013 to 70.8 million in 2016. Important to note is that the percentage of the pensioners, 65 years old and over, is predicted to rise from 32 percent to an all time high of 59 percent in Germany by 2020. On the other hand of the equation, the ratio of those aged 15 and 64, who will support these pensioners with their taxes is 2 pensioners to 1 supporter. Simply put, there are more pensioners to be financed by the shrinking working class in Germany by 2060.
According to a report from The Washington Post, Germany “really needs” the Syrian refugees for the country’s economic equilibrium. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday: “What we’re experiencing right now is something that will occupy and change our country in the coming years. We want this change to be positive.”
The Washington Post noted that Germany is now in need of young and skilled workers. There are hundreds of thousands of jobs to fill and the country has no enough applicants. This is where Syrian refugees come into the picture. “Most refugees are young, well educated and highly motivated. Those are exactly the people we’re searching for,” Dieter Zetsche, the head of a German car company Daimler, was quoted as saying by The Washington Post. Daimler now is searching for applicants from the many refugee camps in Germany. Germany has also launched a website where refugees can reach out to possible employees.
A report from Fortune also noted that Germany has one of the world’s lowest birthrates. As a result of this, the country has always relied on immigration to fill in its job vacancies, Fortune reported. Germany is now at a stage where it needs 1.5 million skilled migrants to achieve the desirable balance between its pensioners and its workforce.
German labor Minister Andrea Nahles was never discreet how Germany badly needs the Syrian refugees. “We will profit from this too, because we need immigration. The people who come to us as refugees should be welcomed as neighbors and colleagues.” Nahles was quoted as saying by Fortune.
Writing for BBC, Robert Peston puts it bluntly. “It is arguably particularly useful to Germany to have an influx of young grateful families from Syria or elsewhere, who may well be keen to toil and strive to rebuild their lives and prove to their hosts that they are not a burden – in the way that successive immigrant waves have done all over the world,” Peston wrote.