Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0.5 2 2.5 3



    Not explicitly, although there is increasing recognition of immigrant integration as a permanent feature of the country’s landscape.

Affirmation Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0.5 0.5


  • Immigration to Germany has typically been a highly politicized issue. Although Germany has not traditionally positioned itself as an “immigration country,” the 2005 election of a coalition government composed of the Christian Democratic Union and Social Democratic Party brought with it an increasing appetite to address the country’s growing diversity (Triadafilopoulos 2009). A new Immigration Act was passed in 2005, and there has been a move toward the creation of various integration policies. At the national level at least, there has, however, been a conscious effort not to label these “multiculturalism” policies (Ibid.). As Meer and colleagues (2015, 716) describe, “integration has become the buzzword in recent years.”
  • In addition, in debates on integration, Germany treats immigrants with a regular residence status differently from those with a so-called “tolerated” status. Those with a regular residence status are encouraged to integrate, and there are initiatives to facilitate this; those with a tolerated status are explicitly encouraged not to integrate as the ultimate goal is to see them return to their country of origin (Cyrus and Vogel 2005). The Integration Programme, which came into effect in 2010, requires migrants to participate in language courses, civic education, and vocational training (European Commission 2019b). 
  • Consultation with ethnic communities in the development of policies has been uneven. For example, although an Expert Council on Immigration and Integration was dissolved in 2005 following public outcry over its recommendation that labour immigration be increased(Cyrus and Vogel 2005), there are some more recent examples of Germany’s efforts to involve civil society in the crafting of immigration and integration policies. An Integration Summit was convened in 2006, and it involved several migrant organizations. One catchphrase for the Summit was “talking to migrants, not about them” (Bundesregierung 2007; see also Devrani 2019). At the 9th Integration Summit in 2016 – which focused on the theme of “Participation” – a collection of more than 50 migrant organizations came together to draft proposals on diversifying public institutions in Germany (European Commission 2019b; Zeit Online 2016). Some of these recommendations included amending laws to acknowledge the value of diversity, increasing the representation of migrants in positions of influence/decision making, and instituting greater protections against discrimination (Zeit Online 2016).
  • The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees is the department chiefly responsible for immigration and ethnic communities. The government’s primary legislative obligations with respect to immigrant integration are outlined in section 43 of the Residence Act (2004). It stipulates that integration is a joint responsibility of the immigrant and the state, that foreigners must learn enough about German life to live without assistance, and that a basic package of integration courses will be offered to facilitate this. The act also requires the government to develop an integration plan. In this vein, a National Integration Plan was released in 2007; in the months leading up to its development, the government actively engaged immigrant associations and communities. Nonetheless, some Turkish associations were upset about some of the proposed requirements, including those related to the language skills required by family migrants; they opted to boycott the summit (see Amelina and Faist 2008). The National Action Plan on Integration was amended in 2012 and includes more specific goals regarding the integration of migrant youth, the recognition of foreign credentials, and provisions pertaining to health care (European Commission 2019b).
  • In terms of the commitments made in the Integration Plan, some of these appear to be derived from multicultural principles but, again, multiculturalism is not explicitly mentioned. This is partly because, as Triadafilopoulos (2009) points out, multiculturalism is viewed as an “easy-going relativism” that does not give the state a sufficient role in mediating between the culture of the host society and those of newcomers. Instead, the government says that integration is a combination of “promoting and demanding.” It “requires an effort from everyone, from government and society. Decisive is the migrants’ willingness to get involved with life in our society, to unconditionally accept our Basic Law and our entire legal system and, in particular, to visibly demonstrate the belonging to Germany by learning the German language. On the side of the host society, acceptance, tolerance, civic commitment and willingness to honestly welcome people living lawfully among us, are essential … The diverse migrants’ abilities have not been sufficiently acknowledged and promoted thus far. The Federal Government would like to change this in the future” (Bundesregierung 2007).
  • While the Integration Plan outlined responsibilities of the federal government, it also committed funds to municipal governments and NGOs so that they could deliver integration programs. As such, there is an important local dimension to integration (Triadafilopoulos 2009; see also Scholten et al. 2017). Some of these cities have been active on this front for some time. Frankfurt, for example, has had an Office for Multicultural Affairs since the 1980s; note, however, that this is the only city in Germany that uses the word “multiculturalism” to describe its approach (Ibid.). Stuttgart, meanwhile, developed a “Pact for Integration” in 2001 in collaboration with NGOs and civil society groups. It recognizes cultural diversity as a resource to be cultivated and lists peaceful cohabitation, social cohesion and the promotion of participation and equal opportunities for all residents among its goals (Ibid.). Stuttgart also has a municipal Integration Department, which is advised by 13 members of city council and 12 community members with immigrant backgrounds. The city also publishes information in several languages and hosted a roundtable on religions in 2003 (Ibid.). There is support for, and ongoing debate over, the adoption of multiculturalism at the municipal level (Blumenreich and Seivers 2013).
  • In recent years, debate over integration has also mounted amidst an increase in asylum seekers, principally from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq (Brücker et al. 2019). In 2015, Germany opted to suspend the Dublin Regulation – an EU law which requires refugees to apply for asylum in the first EU country they enter – for Syrian refugees (Kendzior 2018). Although the Merkel government faced criticisms for the decision, Merkel replied: “wir schaffen das” – “we will cope” (quoted in Kendzior 2018, 527). The influx of migrants prompted the adoption of the Asylum Act in 2015 to regulate the legal status of asylum seekers and refugees, as well as the Integration Act of 2016 (European Commission 2019b; Hanewinkel and Oltmer 2018). The Integration Act included measures for creating employment and training opportunities for migrants but extended the waiting period for permanent residency from three years to five (Hanewinkel and Oltmer 2018). State benefits are cut for those who do not participate in integration programming and civic training (Hanewinkel and Oltmer 2018), which can include 600-900 hours of language training, as well as further instruction in German culture, history, and values (Brücker et al. 2019; Kendzior 2018).



School Curriculum Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0 0


  • Education is a state responsibility in Germany. Note, in addition, that compulsory schooling is typically not accorded to children of refugees whose residence status is considered “tolerated” but insecure and temporary, nor to the children of undocumented migrants (Miera2008). Access to formal education is limited for those who arrive from so-called “safe countries” as it is assumed that their stay in Germany will be temporary (UNHCR 2019).
  • Intercultural education is not part of the school curriculum and the state has not introduced education programs that target ethnic minority groups specifically (Wagner and Blumenreich 2009,48).
  • In 1996, a resolution on intercultural education was adopted by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder (KMK). Although not binding, the recommendation positioned intercultural education as a concern for minorities and the host society and suggested that pupils should “‘become aware of their own cultural socialisation, gain knowledge about other cultures, develop curiosity, openness and an understanding of other cultures, recognize their fears and endure tensions, (…) respect otherness, reflect own standpoints (…) and solve conflicts resulting from ethnic, cultural or religious affiliation in a peaceful manner’” (quoted in Miera 2008, 11-12).
  • Some of these ideas were repeated in the 2007 National Integration Plan, which committed to developing an education system that “‘opens up chances and develops potential’” (quoted in Miera 2008, 12). Nonetheless, the focus here is more on developing the “intercultural competence” of migrant children—that is, their ability to integrate and succeed in German society—rather than on multiculturalism per se. As Miera (2008, 12) points out, the plan includes “no specific suggestions about education, curricula contents or the accommodation of various cultures and religions. … In contrast to the [earlier] KMK recommendations [on] education, the National Integration Plan does not reflect any real acceptance of, or approach to, difference and cultural heterogeneity.”
  • Leise (2007) notes that while education is a central prong in the government’s integration strategy, there has not been “any comprehensive policy reform to correct the deficiencies in its educational system as regards immigrant youth or those with an immigrant background.” In particular, children with a migrant background continue to fare poorly in the German education system, as is consistently shown in their lower overall educational attainment and in various international rankings of student performance. The streaming of German students into vocational versus preparatory secondary schools is viewed as a problem in this regard, with migrant children typically directed to the former, rather than the latter (Miera 2008; see also Crul et al. 2019).
  • While some schools are becoming more open to diversity, “on the whole, most Länder policy programmes are based on the view of ‘cultures’ as homogenous, self-contained collectives. An awareness of the hybridity of cultures is most often notably absent, and the challenges that migration poses on the German nation are barely taken into account (Miera 2008, 14). Although Faas (2011, 484) observes that there has been a greater focus in some geography curricula on global diversity, “the main purpose of citizenship education in Germany thus seems to have been to continue to remind young Germans that their country is a federally-organized parliamentary democracy.” Issues pertaining to ethnicity and diversity remain quite marginalized in studies of German history (Faas 2011).


    No, although some broadcasting networks have taken steps toward acknowledging immigrants’ and refugees’ integration in public media.

Media Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0 0


  • Germany’s broadcasting system includes both public and private broadcasters. Nonetheless, as Wagner and Blumenreich (2009, 20) argue, all broadcasters “agree that programme content should help to promote the cultural diversity of the regions and the country as a whole.”
  • Article 3(1) of the Interstate Broadcasting Agreement (1991) prohibits programs that “arouse hatred against segments of the population or national, racial, religious or ethnic groups, encourage violent or arbitrary action against them or attack the human dignity of others by insulting segments of the population or any of the aforementioned groups or by maliciously degrading or defaming them.” Meanwhile, article 42(1) stipulates that the Jewish community be granted reasonable time for the transmission of religious programs. Nonetheless, the focus remains on promoting German culture, with the act’s references to diversity focusing primarily on the diversity of the German-speaking regions. For example, the mandate of Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB), one of Germany’s national broadcasters, is to “take into account the regional diversity of the states of Berlin and Brandenburg and the language and culture of the Sorbian (Wendish) people” (Cullen International 2019). 
  • However, the National Integration Plan commits to “have journalists and actors of foreign origin increasingly included in editorial departments and programmes” (Bundesregierung 2007). At the first Integration Summit, Chancellor Merkel called upon public broadcasting networks to offer suggestions on ways they could better engage with the integration process, and some responded by the following summit. ARD acknowledged their role in “providing a picture of the daily lives of the immigrant families as part of the social normality, and while doing that, without repudiating the difficulties and risks, conveying the opportunities of a culturally diverse society in a credible manner” (quoted in Devrani 2019, 259). ZDF similarly acknowledged the importance of increasing the representation of immigrants and issues related to integration in their programming (Devrani 2019).
  • Many larger cities offer radio channels broadcasting in foreign languages, and public broadcasters produce some programs that target ethnic minorities and are broadcast in various foreign languages (Wagner and Blumenreich 2009).


    Some, but uneven and not without controversy.

Exemption Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0.5 0.5


  • In Germany, the regulation of religious symbols is within the purview of German states. Eight of Germany’s 16 states contain restrictions on religious dress, though the extent to which they are enacted differs greatly across the states (Open Society Justice Initiative 2018).
  • In 2003, a court ruling allowed women to wear a hijab while teaching. However, given that state governments are responsible for education, many simply enacted local policies that prohibited teachers from wearing the hijab (Leise 2007)
  • A similar case emerged in 2015, where the Federal Constitutional Court determined a general ban on headscarves in schools could not be justified unless it proved to be a concrete threat to peace in the school and the state’s neutrality. However, in 2018, a court ruled against a woman who had been hired for an elementary teaching position who was moved to adult education upon learning that she wore a headscarf, claiming this was not a case of religious discrimination. The court allowed the individual to teach at the secondary level but suggested that, consistent with Berlin’s neutrality law, children in primary education were to be free from religious influence in the classroom (Open Society Justice Initiative 2018).
  • A report on measures to combat discrimination notes that prohibitions on jewelry, headgear, or the wearing of a beard may be considered a “general occupational requirement” and thus not regarded as discrimination (Mahlmann 2008).
  • Accommodations have been made for Muslim women taking integration classes; women-only classes are available, and there have beenefforts to tailor the content to women migrants’ needs (Leise 2007).
  • Miera (2008) notes that Muslim and Jewish students are typically accommodated and permitted to remain at home on religious holidays; most schools also offer pork-free lunches. Girls are also allowed to wear the hijab and abstain from swimming or physical education classes that involve boys. Still, there is typically much debate over these accommodations, and they are often depicted as occurring in alarming numbers.
  • In 2010, a court held that Muslims could be prevented from praying on campus if doing so would create conflict among students. The court also ruled that schools did not have to provide prayer rooms for Muslim students (Mahlmann 2012, 13).
  • Germany does not currently have any national-level official bans on face coverings, although the Interior Minister proposed legislation in 2016 (Open Society Justice Initiative 2018). The legislation has not developed further at this time.


    Although discouraged, dual citizenship is on the rise in Germany.

Dual Citizenship Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0.5 0 0.5


  • German law principally discourages the holding of dual citizenship (Winter 2018). The 1998 Naturalization Act& provided for limited dual citizenship, but required children to choose between German and foreign citizenship before they turn 23 (Cyrus and Vogel 2005, 20). However, this requirement was struck down in 2014, so individuals are no longer forced to choose (Winter 2018).
  • Germany liberalized its citizenship policy in 2000 so that citizenship could be obtained by birth, rather than only through descent. Nonetheless, requirements for naturalization simultaneously became more stringent with applicants required to pass a German language test, demonstrate knowledge of the country’s values and norms, and pledge their acceptance of the rule of law. In addition, naturalized citizens are required to denounce their prior citizenships, except in the case of those from EU and former Soviet Union states, those entering as refugees, or those coming from countries where it is very challenging to renounce one’s citizenship (Winter 2018; Germany Visa 2020). This was a change from earlier policy, which had permitted dual citizenship to some extent (Leise 2007; see also Howard 2005). However, given the influx of refugees and migrants, as well as the changes to the citizenship laws in 2014, dual citizenship is on the rise in Germany (Winter 2018).
  • Prior to the changes, many Turks who had acquired German citizenship subsequently reacquired their Turkish citizenship without notifying German officials; this allowed them to maintain dual citizenship. In 2005, however, officials required all dual Turkish-German citizens to choose one citizenship and noted that anyone who reacquired their Turkish citizenship after naturalizing in Germany would face penalties and the loss of their German citizenship (Leise 2007).



Funding Ethnic Groups Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 1 1 1


  • In delivering social programs, Germany employs the “subsidiary principle”; as such, welfare associations play a significant role. While umbrella-type organizations deliver the bulk of these programs, some immigrant associations—particularly those with roots in the Turkish community—are becoming increasingly active. They thus receive public funds to deliver some integration programs (Cyrus and Vogel 2005).
  • In 1999, the Action Program of the Federal Government and the Lander helped to support intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity.
  • Ohliger (2008) notes in addition that immigrant associations are commonplace in Germany, with more than 1,000 existing across the country. The 2007 National Integration Plan commits to strengthening migrant associations, recognizing these as instrumental in the development and delivery of integration and immigration policies. The Plan made a sum of 750 million euros available to support and promote immigrant integration (Bundesregierung 2007). The Asylum, Migration, and Integration Fund also provides more than 514 million euros in support of integration initiatives (European Commission 2019b).
  • Funding for ethnic minority cultural programs has also been made available in some cities (notably Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Dortmund, Essen, Osnabrück) and Länder (North Rhine-Westfalia, in particular) (Wagner and Blumenreich 2009). Ethnic minorities can also access funding made available to promote “intercultural exchange.” These programs include the federally funded House of World Cultures, the federally endowed Sociocultural Fund and various “celebrations of foreign cultures” that have been launched by individual Länder and numerous municipalities (Ibid.).
  • In recent years, civil society organizations have also played a critical role in the integration of refugees (see Funk 2016). However, a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation shows that more than one third of migrant and refugee organizations struggle to secure state funding; bureaucratic obstacles and a lack of logistical assistance with applications appear to be a challenge for many groups in obtaining government grants, especially for small and new organizations (Dockery 2018).


    To some extent, but limited and uneven.

Bilingual Education Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5


  • In 1964, a two-pronged approach to immigrant education included reintegration into the country of origin, and as a result provided immigrants with mother tongue education. This program was discontinued in 1971 (Vermeulen 1997, 62).
  • Several pilot programs were developed for the teaching of mother tongue education to immigrant students. Full implementation of these plans has been limited. An early pilot program was run in Berlin from 1983-1994 (Miera 2008, 16).
  • In 1996, Hamburg had a significant number of mother tongue language education programs (Gogolin and Reich 2001, 204). In 2000, a large number of mother tongue education programs were offered in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). Some of these programs dated back to 1998-1999 (Extra and Yagmur 2002, 48). There are approximately 98000 children currently enrolled in mother tongue language classes in NRW, which provide instruction in 23 languages (Isenson 2019).
  • In schools, students are often separated on the basis of language ability with “non-German first language students segregated from the rest. In many Länder, non-German-speaking students are taught in separate classes by migrant teachers using their first language. This measure is conceived of as preparatory, however, with the learning of adequate German the goal. Nonetheless, in many schools, these classes become permanent, and migrant children continue to be taught in their first language for some time (Miera 2008). Whether this is a reflection of a larger commitment to multiculturalism or simply a case of benign neglect is, however, a matter of debate.
  • Some mother tongue instruction may also be provided by the embassies or governments of the countries that are the traditional sources of guest workers to Germany. Historically, these courses were offered on the assumption that the migration was temporary and that the immigrants would eventually return to their countries of origin; as such, efforts were made to ensure they remained fluent in their mother tongue (Miera 2008; see also Bingöl 2013). Increasingly, however, migrants are remaining in Germany, and this has led some states to prohibit mother tongue instruction because it is viewed as a hindrance to integration (Miera 2008).
  • Germany’s integration policies place a strong emphasis on the learning of German. Approximately 600- 900 hours of German language courses are provided to new immigrants. These courses are funded partly by the government, but immigrants must themselves make a financial contribution. Immigrants who arrived prior to the 2005 immigration reforms do not have a right to these courses, but they may be allowed to participate if there are available spaces or they may be obliged to do so if they are unemployed (Cyrus and Vogel 2005).
  • Nonetheless, there is evidence of some cities making strides in this area with Hamburg, for example, having proposed bilingual teaching in its schools not simply as a means to facilitate the learning of German, but as a way of preserving and enhancing Turkish students’ cultural identity (Gogolin and Reich 2001; Miera 2008).
  • At present, children in 11 of Germany’s 16 states can take mother tongue language classes in school. This is most available in NRW and Rhineland-Palatinate, where children receive up to 5 hours of instruction per week. Turkish is the most popular language (Isenson 2019). Some civil society groups, including local organizations led by mothers (see, for example, Davis 2015), have pushed schools and districts to offer greater mother tongue instruction opportunities in schools.



Affirmative Action Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 0 0


  • The German General Equal Treatment Act came into effect in August 2006. It prohibits discrimination and allows for the adoption of affirmative action programs, but it does not require the adoption of affirmative action (Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency 2019).
  • In one report, Germany’s interpretation of “equality” is summarized as “treating essentially equal things equally and essentially unequal things unequally”; it notes further that the constitution has opened the door to positive action policies for women and persons with disabilities, but it is debatable if such measures would be applied to other groups (Mahlmann 2008, 45). Mahlmann (2008, 45) suggests that the case law would permit preferential hiring schemes, but “the issue is highly contentious, especially as far as rigid quota systems are concerned. It has been extensively discussed regarding discrimination on the ground of sex. There has been no comparable debate regarding other grounds.”