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German economists demand asylum reform

Some leading economists in Germany have called for a speedy overhaul of the nation's asylum laws. They want to make it easier for skilled refugees to be integrated into the labor market.

The head of Germany's Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW), Michael Hüther, a well known champion of German employers, said Monday that comprehensive reform of asylum law was needed to integrate skilled refugees into the country's workforce.

The

growing influx of refugees

bore "huge potential for labor migration," he told Monday's edition of the daily newspaper, "Die Welt."

But for that to happen, current regulations had to be altered, Hüther said. He added that those who bothered to flee their homes despite all dangers and difficulties were looking for new opportunities, including professional ones, but he argued that unnecessary red tape often stood in their way.

Unnecessary roadblocks

Hüther said asylum seekers applying for residence permits because their initial applications had been turned down faced hurdles that were "unrealistic" and "unworthy."

With one of the lowest birth rates in the world, Germany faces a looming demographic problem that experts have said can only be overcome by finding skilled workers to fill the gap left behind by an aging population.

According to the IW, 13.4 million people in Germany will be pensioned off until 2035, but there are only 7.2 million young people to replace them.

Watch video 42:33

Refugees in Germany

Hüther said Germany could ill afford to send away so many potentially qualified workers looking for work in Europe's largest economy, noting that every fifth asylum seeker had a university degree and every third came with qualifications equaling those of German skilled workers.

Rather than immediately deporting those whose asylum applications are denied, one option could be granting select refugees a different residence status, Hüther said.

hg/cjc (AFP, dpa, epd)

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