The Corner

Germany: A Narrative in Trouble

Earlier today The Economist re-tweeted this article with the comment that “Attacks on women by mobs of young men inflame Germany’s refugee debate”.

Some explanation as to who these mysterious “young men” might be was given in the piece, which also included this remark:

“There is no evidence yet that any of the criminals were refugees”.

I made a (somewhat) similar point (“there is currently no confirmation that any of those involved were part of the current wave of migrants”[emphasis added]) on Wednesday, and, in fairness, I don’t know when The Economist piece (which is from the new print edition) was written (Wednesday? Thursday?) , but what we know now is this.

Reuters:

Nearly two dozen asylum seekers are among those suspected of involvement in mass assaults and muggings on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, officials said on Friday.

And as to the “debate” The Economist is fretting about, well, one striking, if unsurprising, fact about the immigration politics of the German establishment is how little real debate (with the important exception of the contribution made by Merkel’s CSU partners) there has been.

We will see how much that will change.

The Washington Post:

BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday pledged to crack down on refugees who commit crimes, with her party agreeing to present stricter deportation laws to parliament following a national outcry over a string of New Year’s Eve assaults.

Merkel has taken one of the most welcoming stances in Europe toward desperate refugees fleeing the war torn Middle East, but she has come under pressure to take a harder line following the spate of attacks and sexual assaults in Cologne and other German cities by dozens of suspects that include refugees and asylum seekers. In response, her center-right Christian Democratic Union on Saturday approved a plan, which will be presented to her coalition partners and parliament, that could see newcomers who break the law ejected from the country.

An initial draft floated on Friday saw the party taking aim at only those who commit serious crimes carrying jail time. But the party line was hardened Saturday: Even refugees sentenced to probation by German courts could face deportation. In addition, the party called for new random identity checks of refugees and asylum seekers and tougher sexual assault laws.

But, as a member of the EU, Germany is also subject to the European Convention on Human Rights and that, as Merkel knows very well, will make it extremely difficult to deport refugees, criminal convictions or not.

In other words, this initiative is a largely meaningless gesture, par from the course from a woman with such profound contempt for the voters.

Meanwhile, doubts are growing about the idea that the current migrant wave is the answer to Germany’s (supposed) labor shortage. I wrote about this topic in a post the other day.

And now, from Politico, there’s this:

  “Let’s not delude ourselves,” said Ludger Wößmann, director of Munich-based Ifo Center for the Economics of Education. “From everything we know so far, it seems that the majority of refugees would first need extensive training and even then it’s far from certain that it would work out.”

…Less than 15 percent of refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries have completed vocational training or a university degree, according to a September 2015 study by Germany’s Institute for Employment Research.

Even those with training often don’t have the skills expected in Germany. On average, an eighth-grader in pre-war Syria had a similar level to a third-grade student in Germany, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“Someone who comes from Eritrea and says he was an electrician might have repaired a radio or laid a cable there,” said Achim Dercks, deputy managing director of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, “but he might have never seen a fuse box, as we use it in Germany.”

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