24.06.2022, Berlin: Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP), Bundesbildungsministerin, gibt der dpa im Bundesministerium für Bildung- und Forschung ein Interview. (Zu dpa "Bildungsministerin: Schulschließungen waren ein Fehler") Foto: Carsten Koall/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

The FDP wants to introduce English as an additional administrative language in German authorities. The demand is part of a ten-point program to facilitate the immigration of skilled workers, which the FDP Presidium passed on Monday in Berlin.

Because a lack of knowledge of German is “a very big hurdle” when recruiting urgently needed specialists, said Federal Minister of Education and FDP Presidium member Bettina Stark-Watzinger. “The point here is that we introduce English as a second language in administration so that those who come to us can also find access.”

Stark-Watzinger admitted that the desired bilingualism of the authorities could not be implemented immediately. It’s about “making the first start”. Officials who already speak English could be used specifically to look after people from abroad.

For others, there must be language training opportunities. In addition, vacant positions would have to be filled with English-speaking applicants. “The signal must be: We are an immigration country,” said Stark-Watzinger.

The Association of Towns and Municipalities rejected the proposal. General manager Gerd Landsberg described it to the editorial network Germany as “counterproductive”. Implementation would take years and lead to additional bureaucracy. The project “would not bring us any closer to the goal of establishing a better welcoming and arrival culture”.

In the position paper, the FDP called for a fundamental reorientation of immigration policy in order to combat the shortage of skilled workers in many economic areas. “Labour and innovative strength from abroad will be indispensable for our country in order to successfully grow out of the current crises and to permanently meet the needs of our labor market,” it says.

“As an immigration country, Germany is in global competition for qualified workers, which we urgently need in view of our demographic development and to ensure our prosperity – especially with regard to the stability of our social systems, especially pensions,” emphasizes the FDP. It is all the more important to make immigration “not short-sighted and ideological, but forward-looking and realistic”.

The party puts the need for immigration into the German labor market at more than 400,000 people per year, and the trend is rising. In order to make this possible, the existing European Blue Card for the immigration of skilled workers in German law should also be extended to non-academic professions. There should also be an “opportunity card” to facilitate controlled access to the German labor market for foreign workers based on a points system.

The FDP also cites the removal of hurdles in the recognition of foreign educational and professional qualifications as a “special priority”. Visa procedures are to be accelerated and digitized to a greater extent. The goal of the “lane change” option agreed upon in the coalition is also reaffirmed. An ongoing asylum procedure should not stand in the way of immigration into the labor market.