Germany’s 5th Integration Summit

31.01. & 01./02.02.2012

Last Tuesday, Chancellor Merkel hosted the fifth German integration summit, bringing together politicians and representatives of different immigrant groups and organizations.

When Merkel initiated the first integration summit in 2006, she made the integration of Germany’s migrant population a top political priority. At this first summit, the participants agreed on developing a national integration plan, which was presented at the second summit in 2007 and meant to be the basis for integration work in subsequent years. The third and fourth summits were, then, opportunities to assess what had been achieved – with many critical voices as to the progress with respect to integration made so far.

Amongst other things, this year’s summit focused specifically on the issue of language skills, which had already been a priority of recent summits as well as in the national integration plan. In addition, the summit focused on structures of the German state that essentially prevent immigrants from working in the civil service or civil service organizations. In this context, a particular goal formulated at the summit was to raise the number of migrants in these official positions. Furthermore, the summit’s participants talked about the recently uncovered right-wing terrorism cell in Germany. They called for more tolerance and a new “culture of welcome” in Germany as a clear sign against racism and right-wing ideologies. The participants then agreed on an “national action plan” to bring forward the practical implementation of the National Integration Plan.

As in previous years, the summit was – once again – criticized by opposition parties and migrant organizations for its mere symbolic character. Kenan Kolat, for instance, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, argued that the euphoria surrounding the first integration summits is over and it has now turned into a mere show-event.