© Florian Bayer

Displacement and migration

The influx of refugees: no other topic has made more of an impact on the third GIZ study of how Germany is perceived in the world. Germany’s culture of welcoming migrants is attracting attention and admiration, but it is also subject to critical reflection and concerns about rising national populism.

The human touch emerges

Political commitment and civil society engagement are shaping a new image for Germany.

According to interviewees, there has been a breakthrough when it comes to the stereotypical image of technocratic efficiency and mechanical products. There is a new human aspect.

What Germany accomplished during the refugees crisis is fantastic, and worthy of respect. Germany should place much greater emphasis on what it achieved during this crisis. Germans should be proud of what they did.
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Mostly opportunities, but also risks

Many interviewees see migration as an opportunity for Germany. It brings new ideas into the country and the economy stands to benefit from this during times of demographic change. But interviewees also questioned whether Germany can see these opportunities. Good German language skills are viewed as an essential requirement for successful integration. But study participants also call on Germany to support efforts to become more international in terms of language. In addition to opportunities and demands, risks were also addressed, such as questions concerning security, the country’s cultural identity and the effects on politics and society. 

Reasons unclear

While the opportunities and risks are straightforward, the reason behind the culture of welcoming migrants remains unclear for many. Humanitarian objectives are likely at the forefront, but national interests could also be a motive. Many interviewees felt there is a lack of clarity when it comes to the actions taken by Germany in this context.

I assume that Germany is currently admitting migrants partly for humanitarian reasons but also, perhaps more importantly, due to demographic considerations.

Xenophobic and populist tendencies

Interviewees have the impression that migrants in Germany may not always be welcome. Even if the negative incidents are few in number, the problem of selective xenophobia was noted. Populism, which is gaining strength not only in Germany, is also viewed with concern by interviewees. They do not suspect, however, that migration and an open border policy are the causes, but rather that parts of the German population have likely been left behind economically and socially, and this results in reservations about foreigners.

Read more about the key findings in the chapter ‘Displacement and Migration - Germany seen with new eyes’.

Additional information