German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition announced new “integration” reforms Thursday that will remove worker protections from European Union and German citizens so refugees can compete with them for jobs.
The draft measure would suspend a law preventing companies from hiring non-EU citizens, unless there is no EU citizen willing or qualified to take the job. The new law would allow those companies to also hire refugees.
With more than one million pending asylum applications, Merkel hopes the new regulation will open up at least 100,000 job opportunities for refugees. The EU-citizen protection would be back in effect in three years.
The new integration measures also include mandatory classes on the German language and culture for arriving migrants, and “one-euro jobs” — in which refugees can work for low wages of between $1.13 and $2.80 — without it impacting their welfare support status. Failure to complete the language and culture classes will result in cuts in welfare.
Merkel said the reforms are due in part to a growing concern over homegrown terrorism in Europe, and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the new laws will go down in history as a “milestone for our immigration law.”
The refugee influx in German has slowed down drastically in recent months, with 25 percent fewer arrivals in March compared to February.