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2. Migration patterns in Germany

2.1 East West migration patterns before the 2004 enlargement of the EU

Dr. Barbara Dietz, IOS

2.1.1 Admission Regulations
2.1.2 Labour Migration
2.1.3 Ethnic German Migration
2.1.4 Asylum Migration

Before the political transformation in the end of the 1980s, governments in Eastern Europe kept strict control of their citizens' movement to the West. With the fall of the Iron Curtain, emigration restrictions were removed and a new migration space developed. Large differences in income and living standards between Eastern and Western Europe, growing unemployment and sporadic ethnic conflicts in the transformation countries confronted Western European states, first of all Germany, with an increasing East West migration pressure. While most old European Union countries had no migration relations to Eastern European states before 2004, Germany was traditionally in the focus of East West migration movements.

2.1.1 East West Migration to Germany: Admission Regulations
Although Germany did not consider itself an immigration country until the introduction of the migration law (Zuwanderungsgesetz) in the year 2005 changed this paradigm, it received the highest number of immigrants in Western Europe since World War II (Zimmermann 1994, Münz et al. 1999, Rotte 2000). Migration to Germany had been strictly regulated for different types of immigrants - labour migrants, their following family members, asylum seekers and refugees - controlling the entrance, stay and labour market access of foreign nationals (Halfmann 1997). In addition, the admission of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is guaranteed, even though their entrance has been made increasingly difficult since the beginning of the nineties (Dietz 2000).
Net migration of foreign nationals to Germany included 6.7 million people between 1955 and 2000, in addition 3.9 million ethnic Germans came. However, with the exception of the resettlement of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, East West migration did not play an important role until the end of the eighties. This was first of all due to the political regimes in Eastern Europe, which strictly controlled emigration in the period of the cold war. East European citizens were allowed to leave their home countries only in exceptional cases, mainly for ethnic or humanitarian reasons. Often the German government intervened on behalf of the respective migrants, mostly ethnic Germans.
With the political transformation in Eastern Europe the East West migration scenario changed. The liberalization of emigration regulations allowed East European citizens to move to the West, provided they were admitted in a Western European state. Thus migration of East European citizens to Germany grew considerably in the beginning of the nineties. Although the majority of migrants from Eastern Europe were ethnic Germans, asylum seekers additionally contributed to East West population movement. A further group consisted of different types of labour migrants, most of whom were allowed to work temporarily in Germany on the base of special bilateral contracts (Hönekopp 1997; Bauer and Zimmermann 1999).

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2.1.2 Labour Migration
When German politicians registered that the fall of the Iron Curtain increased labour migration from Eastern Europe, special regulations were introduced to control these movements. The rationale behind this policy was to improve the economic advancement of Eastern European countries, to decrease the migration pressure on Germany and to prevent permanent migration as well as illegal work. In addition, East European workers were expected to satisfy a particular seasonal or occupational labour demand in Germany.
In the context of special employment programs, seasonal workers are the most important group in quantitative terms, followed by project-tied and guest workers. In the case of seasonal workers, figures indicate that their employment more than doubled between 1991 and 2000. Nevertheless the total number of 258,000 seasonal workers (in 2000) does not have an important weight in the German labour market as a whole. This is especially true if one considers that seasonal workers are only allowed to stay for 3 months. Nearly all seasonal workers (90%) are employed in agriculture.
In absolute terms, the number of project-tied workers is comparatively low. Here, employment declined noticeably between 1992 and 2000, which points to substantial restrictions in this form of employment because of a reduced demand. Most project-tied workers are occupied in construction and in related industries.
In the case of guest workers, the official quota of 10,200 work permits per year has never been exhausted. Nearly half of all guest workers are employed in hotels or restaurants.
In all special employment programs, Poland is by far the most important sending country. Throughout the nineties migrant workers from Romania grew more important, whereas those from (former) Czechoslovakia declined. These trends first of all reflect the existence of business cooperation and migrant networks between Germany and the respective East European countries. For example, long lasting migration relations exist between Poland and Germany, including labour, ethnic German and asylum migration. In addition, business cooperation, which is a precondition for the sending of project-tied workers, are mostly established between Poland and Germany. In the case of Romania, migration networks have also been built up for decades in the context of ethnic German migration. As in many other transnational migrations, networks foster further movements.
Because of their comparatively little weight in total employment, not much is known about demographic and human capital characteristics of East European workers who came to Germany by special employment programs. An empirical study, exploring the situation of Polish program employees in Germany in 1995 found that 75% of Polish migrant workers were under the age of 40 (Mehrländer 1997: 11). In comparison to German workers - with 51.7% being under the age of 40 - or to foreign workers in Germany - with 59.5% being under the age of 40 - they were considerably younger. This corresponds to the situation in Western Europe as a whole, where labour migrants from Eastern Europe in general were younger than foreign employees (Hönekopp 1999: 23).
In Germany, the education and qualification which East European program workers received in their home countries was found to be higher than the qualification level of foreign workers in general (Hönekopp 1999: 36, Schulz 1999: 410). In most cases, however, East European workers could not employ their qualification in the job. While approximately 28% of all employees in Germany worked in low qualified jobs, 45% of all East European and 60% of all foreign employees were occupied in this type of job (Schulz 1999: 407).
With respect to qualification, remarkable differences could be observed in the group of program workers. According to the results of a survey study, 66% of all seasonal workers from Poland worked in jobs with low qualification in contrast to only 3% of project-tied workers. On the other hand, 65% of project-tied workers from Poland were occupied in qualified jobs, but only 7% of seasonal workers (Mehrländer 1997).
In 1991 and 2000 the number of socially insured employees from Eastern Europe differed only slightly in Western Germany (96,242 persons in 1991, 105,582 persons in 2000), keeping their share in all foreign employees nearly stable (5.0% in 1991, 5.4% in 2000). It has to be recognised, though, that in absolute figures, foreign employees from East European countries reached the highest level in 1993 and decreased thereafter. As in the case of program workers, most socially insured employees come from Poland.
The Green card regulation - as a special permit for foreign employment - allowed about 20000 IT specialists to come to Germany between August 2000 and December 2004. 3197 IT specialists from Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary came to Germany during this period. IT workers from these countries held a share of 18% in the total Green Card employment. In the case of Green Card employment, Romania was the most important sending country.
Labour migration from East European countries to Germany experienced a remarkable increase in the beginning of the nineties, but thereafter slowed down again. Everything points to the fact that apart from illegal inflows, East West migration to Germany in the nineties has been channeled in the framework of national policy regulations (Rotte 2000).

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2.1.3 Ethnic German Migration
The admission of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union into Germany and their acceptance as German citizens have been guaranteed by the 1949 German constitution and the Federal Expellee and Refugee Law of 1953 (Kurthen 1995: 921). These special provisions have been introduced to provide a homeland for ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe (mainly Romania and Poland) and the Soviet Union, who had experienced forced resettlement, ethnic discrimination and expulsion during and after World War II (Brubaker 1998: 1050). For the German government, ideological arguments also played a role in the admission of ethnic Germans. In the period of the Cold War the emigration of ethnic Germans from socialist countries could be used in evidence of the superiority of the West German system (Ronge 1997: 125).
When the immigration of ethnic Germans grew remarkably towards the end of the eighties, the German government expected serious problems in providing houses for the newcomers and integrating them into labour market and society. Therefore the government started to control and restrict this movement by administrative measures.
In July 1990 a law was introduced which demanded German resettlers to apply for their immigration in the countries of origin. This allowed German authorities to slow down and channel ethnic German migration. In 1993 a further law (Kriegsfolgenbereinigungsgesetz) has been adopted which regulated the immigration of ethnic Germans by a quota of 225,000 per year. The law also stated that those wishing to immigrate from countries other than the former Soviet Union must have individual proof of discrimination because of their German descent. As serious ethnic discrimination against Germans in Poland and Romania is almost nonexistent since the political transformation, their emigration has nearly ceased with the enforcement of the new law in 1993.
Nevertheless the resettlement of ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union continued on a high level until a German language test was introduced in July 1996. Since then potential immigrants have to proof a certain command of the German language as a confirmation of their belonging to the German people (Volkszugehörigkeit). Finally, in 2000 the immigration quota was fixed to 100,000.
In quantitative terms, the immigration of ethnic Germans has been the most important factor in East West net migration to Germany until 1993. In 1989 and 1990 the relaxation of emigration regulations in Poland and Romania allowed more than half a million (518,749) ethnic Germans to come in these two years.
Whereas the immigration of ethnic Germans from Poland had reached its highest level already in 1989, immigration from Romania increased by nearly five times between 1989 and 1990. As has been described above, the German government introduced several administrative regulations and laws since 1990 to control the Aussiedler migration. As a result of these measures, the immigration of ethnic Germans from Poland and Romania decreased sharply since 1990. In addition to the legal restrictions in the admission of ethnic Germans from Poland and Romania it must be taken into account that the German minorities there had severely diminished, and migration pressure had declined.

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2.1.4 Asylum Migration
Until its amendment in 1993, the asylum law in Germany has been characterised as one of the most generous worldwide (Knipping and Saumweber-Meyer 1995). However, Germany not having established a coherent immigration law until the year 2002, political asylum had become an entrance passage for those who would otherwise not have qualified to come into the country. Especially in the beginning of the new East West migration in the early nineties, many migrants from Eastern Europe arrived via the asylum regulation.
In Germany, the sharp increase of asylum seekers since 1989 led to a heated debate on the expected consequences of these movements. Many natives opposed the right for asylum, expecting an escalating economic and social burden because of asylum migration. The German government reacted to this debate by changing the asylum law, coming into effect on 1 July 1993.
The asylum law which had dictated German policy from 1949 to 1993 permitted the subjective and unlimited right for asylum for politically persecuted persons. When the new law came into effect, the changes made it much more difficult for persons seeking asylum to be recognised, and, in many cases, it excluded them from being admitted to the asylum procedure in Germany at all.
In the beginning of the nineties, asylum migration contributed considerably to East West population movements to Germany until the amendment of the asylum law in 1993 terminated that migration. However, the patterns of asylum migration were quite different regarding individual East European countries.
Whereas asylum migration from Poland to Germany had played an important role in the eighties - caused by the martial law and the political oppression in that time - it declined significantly since 1989 (Okolsky 1996). Although the economic situation in Poland was characterised by a severe crisis, the establishment of a non-communist government in September 1989 supported an expectation of economic improvement and political stability. In addition, job opportunities were opened up in Western Europe - mainly Germany - which made labour migration feasible, though on a short term basis (Okolsky 1998).
Asylum migration from the (former) Czechoslovakia and Hungary did not play an important role. There was a small but steady asylum migration from these countries to Germany in the eighties. This movement increased slightly for a short period in 1992/1993, when asylum migration was used as an entrance to the Western world by those who felt politically repressed and economically deprived.
In the case of Romania and Bulgaria, asylum migration to Germany developed in a much more dynamic way. In both countries it started in 1989, increased quickly until 1992 and declined rapidly thereafter. In Bulgaria, the liberalization of the passport restrictions in 1990 made up the framework for emigration. Yet the decisive factors for the asylum migration to Germany were political instability and a desperate economic situation in the beginning of the nineties (Bobeva 1996). The victory of the ex-communist party in the 1990 elections destroyed the hope for fundamental political and economic reforms. This fostered a migration movement, which used the asylum procedure to Germany because admission was not guaranteed otherwise. As in the case of Bulgaria, asylum migration from Romania to Germany was motivated to a considerable degree by economic reasons and the loss of confidence in political reforms (Ciutacu 1996). In addition, the deprived situation of the Roma minority in Romania played a role, as a remarkable part of the asylum migration from Romania to Germany consisted of Roma (Ohliger 2000).
Because the German asylum law only accepts those applicants who have been persecuted because of political reasons in their countries of origin, the acceptance rate of East European asylum seekers had been below 1% in the early nineties. Thus even before the amendment of the asylum law the German government signed bilateral agreements with Bulgaria and Romania to regulate the readmission of rejected asylum seekers to their countries of origin. These agreements were combined with financial compensations for the reintegration of returning asylum migrants. In the case of Romania a special readmission agreement had been worked out for the group of Roma (Rakelman 1994).

2.2 East West migration patterns after the 2004 enlargement of the EU