Monday, February 18, 2013

European Migration to Germany

Why learn German?  Check out this week's Economist:  

Sprechen Sie Job? More southern Europeans are going where the jobs are.   -- But not enough     

DANIEL GÓMEZ GARCIA, aged 23, is the sort of person Europe’s leaders may have had in mind when, on paper at least, they turned the European Union into a single labour market like America’s. Mr Gómez, from Andalusia in Spain, learned a smattering of German in school -- and passable English, while studying in America. But when he came back to Spain he saw that hardly anybody in his class of 80 had a job. “Nothing to do, so let me go to Germany and get the language,” he recalls thinking. In autumn 2012 he took an unpaid four-month internship at his embassy in Berlin and paid for his tiny flat-share by helping a local holiday-rental firm with its Excel spreadsheets. Last month that turned into a low-paying but permanent job as an accountant.

That is how the single market is supposed to work. Spain has a youth unemployment rate of 56%. In Greece it is 58% (see chart). By contrast, Germany has negligible youth unemployment (8%) and a shortage of qualified workers. Theoretically, people should be willing to move from the “crisis countries” to the boom towns, just as the Okies once flocked to California.

To some extent this migration is indeed happening. New arrivals in Germany in the first half of 2012 grew by 15% over the same period in 2011, and by 35% net of departures. And the numbers of newcomers from the euro crisis countries increased the most—Greek arrivals were up by 78%, Spanish by 53%, for example. But the absolute numbers (6,900 Greeks and 3,900 Spaniards during those six months) are still modest.
It is “astonishing how astonishing it still is that they are coming”, says Holger Kolb, at the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration. Some things are beginning to work as intended, such as the elimination of bureaucratic hassles for moving within the EU. Yet it seems that the EU can never become a truly integrated market. That is mainly because of language.  Mr Gómez finds life in Germany challenging— “Germans seem to always nag about recycling, or noise, or whatever,”—but the language is “the hardest part”.

Thus language has replaced work visas as the main barrier to mobility. When the euro crisis began, the branches in southern Europe of the Goethe Institute, the German equivalent of the British Council, were overwhelmed by demand for German courses, says Heike Uhlig, the institute’s director of language programmes. That demand was also different, she adds: less about yearning to read Goethe’s “Faust” than about finding work. So the Institute retooled, offering courses geared (more) to the technical German used by engineers, nurses or doctors.

Language, besides proximity, explains a lot of today’s movements in the EU, says Klaus Bade, another migration expert. For example, the largest group of new arrivals in Germany is still from Poland, which is poorer, though not a crisis, country. But its schools often teach German alongside English.


Your comments merely patronize those who do not want to learn a second language. It is indeed a disadvantage that should be remedied and not promoted as a plus. 

One needs to understand one's place in the world in order to start speaking foreign languages.  

I am now in Greece and I am absolutely shocked by the almost complete lack of recycling effort  here - apart from the other problems - after spending six years in the Czech Republic - it really is horrible!  Young Greeks don't even understand why they should think about it. Their heads are full of nonsense about international conspiracy - about how it's all someone else's fault - and yet in the small simple ways that they could be making a difference they make none. This is not modern thinking.  PS Czechs are excellent at recycling! 

A great many (if not most) Greek kids live at home until they're older than this study, and therefore may not be actively seeking for employment. 



  1. das macht mich wollen nach Deutschland noch mehr bewegen!

  2. Ich finde dieses artikel sehr interessant.