For years, the issue of migration has dominated the debate in Germany. But there is still no overall approach that involves as many actors as possible or a systematic communication strategy. The implementation of the UN Global Compact for Migration could provide an opportunity to actively advance both issues.
Migration is a global phenomenon. In the past year, 68.5 million people worldwide were fleeing war and violent conflict, and even more were trying to escape poverty or migrating to foreign countries as skilled workers and specialists. Consequently, migration flows cannot be expected to decrease in the future.
New Approaches Are Needed
Current answers to this major challenge, however, are not sufficient. Germany may see much discussion and action in regard to migration, but what is needed are new and, above all, concerted approaches. In recent years, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has gained extensive experience in the field of migration through studies and practical projects, and we want to contribute our knowledge to the social discourse: Firstly, the government needs an interdepartmental approach to better organize migration. It is not an issue that only concerns one or two departments. Therefore, it would make sense to pool the expertise, for instance with the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees, and Integration in Germany. As soon as a National Action Plan on Integration, as currently being devised by the German government, has been launched it must urgently be transferred to the issue of migration as well.
Shaping Migration in the Social Dialog
But migration is not just a task for government authorities. Such an action plan needs a social dialog on how migration should be organized in the first place, for example through migration partnerships, the recruitment of specialists, or resettlement programs for refugees. The development of such a plan requires the cooperation of academia, civil society, including migrant organizations, and the business world. Diaspora organizations can make a valuable contribution when it comes to cooperating with the countries of origin. Any masterplan that is not supported by a multitude of actors will not be effective. Acceptance of a coherent and strategic migration policy can only be achieved if broad sections of society in the host country are involved, as the current debate about the UN Global Compact for Migration shows. Among the broad spectrum of political parties in Germany, there is a basic consensus that migration must be structured, safe, and legal – precisely as the UN Compact details. A discussion characterized by mistrust will not be helpful. Several months ago, the Robert Bosch Stiftung in cooperation with the Bertelsmann Stiftung invited civil society representatives to discuss the Global Compact and exchange ideas and opinions with the German government. Unfortunately, there is still no systematic communication strategy on migration policy.
Incorporating Communications from the Outset
The UN Global Compact for Migration could now provide the opportunity to step up the discussion of a more coherent migration policy in Germany and to develop and implement new ideas, solutions, and activities across government departments and sectors. After all, migration is not only a challenge but also an opportunity. There is a positive narrative of migration as well, namely how new arrivals support and benefit their host countries through their work as well as enrich them culturally. Even the return of migrants to their home countries has positive aspects. This issue clearly requires more work. We will all have to think about these matters now, and not only in Germany. The more constructively migration is organized, the better for all concerned. Communications must be incorporated in these efforts from the outset, as recent months and years have shown.
All this suggests that it is not too late for a National Action Plan on Migration. On the contrary, now is precisely the right time. As a foundation, we can mediate further efforts to develop a new migration policy and contribute our experience, as well as the voice of civil society, to this process.
Uta-Micaela Dürig, Vice Chair of the Board of Management of Robert Bosch Stiftung