CDU / CSU say German citizenship reforms send wrong signal to the world
Germany’s centre-right CDU / CSU sister parties say that the SPD coalition government’s plans to reform the path to German citizenship will make the process too easy for foreigners living in the federal republic.
Union criticise German citizenship reform laws
Speaking to the Rheinische Post, Thorsten Frei, parliamentary whip for Germany’s opposition party the CDU / CSU, has said that the federal government risks sending the “wrong signal to the world” with its planned citizenship reforms.
Frei’s comment comes days after the SPD, FDP and Greens coalition government announced that a draft law of the country’s citizenship reform is almost finished and is likely to face Bundestag and Bundesrat votes this summer. The new law will reduce the amount of time that foreigners must be resident in Germany before they can apply for a German passport, from eight years to five. Residents who prove themselves to be “particularly well integrated” will be able to apply after just three years.
The reform will also allow non-EU citizens to have dual citizenship, retaining their original citizenship and German citizenship simultaneously, a policy that the CDU / CSU strongly opposed for the 16 years that Angela Merkel was Chancellor.
The most recent draft of the 49-page law includes a clause which will exclude applicants who have been charged with committing antisemitic, racist, xenophobic or inhuman acts. Exclusion based on engaging in a polygamous marriage or rejecting gender equality is also expected to be included. These amendments were included after the CDU / CSU and FDP criticised an original draft.
Citizenship law will change social security beneficiaries' eligibility
Currently, citizenship applicants who receive social security benefits (with the exclusion of Kindergeld) are unlikely to be granted a passport. If the new draft law passes through the German Bundestag and Bundesrat this summer, this will largely remain the case, though there will be some exceptions.
People who are in full-time work but still aren’t paid a sufficient enough wage to support themselves so receive supplementary income benefits will be able to apply for naturalisation if they have worked in Germany for at least 20 months of the two years prior to their application. In a marriage or legal partnership where only one person works full-time to support the other partner and a young child, exceptions will also be made.
On the other hand, some people who receive social security benefits and who are eligible to apply for citizenship as the law currently stands will likely have their applications rejected under the new rules. This includes children whose parents receive social security benefits and people who do not work because they are unable to or because they care for dependents.
Frei argues citizenship reform is too open
Nonetheless, speaking to Rheinische Post, Frei condemned the reforms, saying the country would be “giv[ing] citizenship to people who can’t even make a living for themselves”.
Since the coalition government announced its plans to ease the path to citizenship, the unofficial CDU / CSU party line has been that the reforms would “cheapen” the German passport, a stance that Frei has defended.
The representative for Schwarzwald-Baar-Kreis and Obere Kinzigtal in Baden-Württemberg said “The doors have long been open for people who are well qualified and would like to come and live and work in Germany," an opinion that lies in unsurprising opposition to the coalition government’s plans to adopt a new points-based immigration system in the hopes of quelling an already record-high worker shortage and existing and looming demographic imbalance in the country's pension system.
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