Germany’s two largest political parties have formally agreed to begin another grand coalition government, with Angela Merkel poised to begin her fourth term as the country’s chancellor. The agreement forged between Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) is expected to pave the way for new immigration policies.

The two sides agreed:

  • To introduce a revised high-skilled immigration law. The exact provisions are not yet known, but the focus will be removing the labor market test for preferential workers. Employers will still be required to meet salary levels and other employment conditions in accordance with German labor law. A firm job offer will still be required for non-EU nationals seeking work authorization.
  • To reduce processing times for the recognition of foreign degrees, which now can take up to three months.
  • To limit acceptance of refugees to 180,000 to 220,000 per year.
  • To allow family members to join refugees in Germany beginning Aug. 1. A cap on the number of family members arriving in these circumstances will be set at 1,000 per month. Additional hardship applications may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Background: Although Merkel won a fourth term as Germany’s chancellor in September, the victory was dampened by a weak showing for her party and a stronger than expected finish for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland, which will now become the biggest opposition party. The CDU-SPD discussions only began after talks between the CDU and the business-friendly Free Democrats and the Greens fell apart last fall. The CDU-SPD coalition agreement was finalized with a favorable vote by the SPD’s rank-and-file members.

BAL Analysis: The new government is preparing to take control this month, with Parliament expected to choose Merkel as chancellor March 14. The agreement offers an indication of what policies Germany will develop on immigration. BAL will continue to follow matters in Germany and will alert clients to any significant changes.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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