1.4.2008 | Von:
Andreas Damelang
Max Steinhardt


Since the necessity for a targeted, catch-up integration policy has been recognised by all political decision-makers, a battery of integration policy measures and initiatives has been developed and implemented at the Federal Government level over the course of recent years.

A prominent example of this is the National Integration Plan, which was adopted in 2007 and which represents an overall national concept for integrating foreigners and people with a migration background living in the country. Currently an additional outcome of the open discourse on the subject of integration is the realisation that, due to the regional economic and demographic disparities in Germany, integration policy must be on as small a scale as possible. Thus the National Integration Plan stresses that integration occurs within the immediate locality. For this reason, regional approaches are gaining increasing importance in Germany's integration policy, whereby participation in the labour market is regarded as a central precondition to integration. Moreover, cultural diversity is seen as potential for society and the economy, which can be unfolded by means of targeted initiatives, and conditions for the good of all.

The National Integration Plan provides that local authorities and administrative institutions should work together with migrants to produce a model to guarantee clear political commitment and responsibility. Anchored in this, there must be a number of targets for integration policy that also makes it possible to scrutinise its implementation. Those who bear responsibility for these matters in local government are entirely aware of their obligation, with the result that nearly all of the German municipalities that have been investigated have their own regional integration concepts. A central element of all the concepts is the promotion of education and qualifications for the foreign population and people with a migration background. In this regard, Stuttgart can certainly be judged as playing a leading role.

The future success of regional integration policy will depend on how far the existing concepts are implemented and become a lasting component of urban education and labour market policy. In order to guarantee that this does not remain merely a declaration of intent and that effective measures will be implemented efficiently, constant evaluation of integration policy will be necessary. The derivation of examples of best practice is indeed a start; however, the development and implementation of a meaningful indicator system should take priority. The social and economic integration of foreigners and people with a migration background is one of the greatest challenges facing German society; it should not be influenced by the events of the moment but must be advanced purposefully and on a long-term basis. Achieving this requires openness and goodwill both on the part of the immigrant and on the part of the receiving society.



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