While government and opposition parties keep haggling about the conditions, eg the allowed period of residence, under which to invite Indian computer specialists to work in Germany, it now seems that there is not much demand anyway in the desired "source country". So far, only a few hundred applications for a German "green card" have reached the German authorities instead of the expected 200,000 applications, and inquiries in India show that most IT sages there that are willing to emigrate definitely prefer the USA both as a more open market and as a more multicultural society.
Thus, the whole discussion among German politicians might be regarded as pointless; already, the German Crafts Chamber (Handwerkskammer) has doubted the usefulness of the initiative. At least the topic has triggered a more comprehensive debate between the political parties and business representatives about the real needs of the German economy in the age of globalisation. Whether it also affects general views on immigration remains to be seen.
The latest "Eurobarometer" poll shows that only a minority of Germans, some 37 percent, see their country profiting from EU membership. Almost as few, at 38 percent, are in favour of the accession to the EU of the former Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. This does not bode well for the forthcoming "hard part" of the accession negotiations. Recently, there have been several occasions on which the accession process seemed to have lost its momentum, such as the temporary interruption of the EU-Poland negotiations on agriculture, and the remarks by certain Austrian politicians, made in reaction to that country's boycott of the "Fourteen," that they may slow down the process.
On the whole, German citizens' awareness of the significance of enlargement appears to be limited, and littered with irrational fears, notably about mass immigration from Central Europe. These feelings are taking centre stage due to the absence of any clear leadership from leading politicians.
Little common sense?
At the same time as the "green card" discussion on Indian experts continues, the German labour authorities are continuing to help Turkish graduates of German universities find jobs back in Turkey. According to official data, those graduates over the age of 30 are often considered to be too old for the labour market by German employers; in contrast, in Turkey, where great efforts are made to create a "European" elite, they are highly desired experts, not least because they are bi-lingual Turkish-German.
The German authorities get such "remigrants" started by funding internships with Turkish companies which often results in permanent employment. Faced with criticisms about a waste of German tax-payers' money on Turkish companies, the authorities underscore that their task be to "create jobs, wherever."
Jens Boysen, 22 April 2000