Topic of the day at the second day at the trade fair: “Immigration and building” at the EXPO REAL FORUM
“New people in Germany: Immigration and building” was the subject of this morning at the EXPO REAL FORUM. The panel focused on the demographic and sociographic developments. Moderated by Michael Neitzel (InWis), Henriette Reker (mayor Köln), Dr. Joachim Seeler (Hamburgische Bürgerschaft), Prof. Dr. Michael Voigtländer (Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft, Köln) and Prof. Günter Vornholz (EBZ Business School, Bochum) discussed that issue. Florian Pronold, Parliamentary State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry for Building, supported the government’s position in his keynote.
Right at the very beginning, all discussants agreed upon: The increasing population has to be taken into account. A demographic decline within the next couple of years is not very likely and that is proven by clear signs. Henriette Reker: “This year, we welcomed the birth of the 10,000th child already in September – and next year it will probably already be in summer.”
“Have you ever tried to turn a park into building land?”
All discussants agreed upon the fact that the more people, the more living space will be required. But Prof. Vornholz summarized the real challenge: “We’re lacking space for social housing – have you ever tried to turn a park into building land?” People partially have considerable resistance against new building projects. In addition there is a discernible restraint among investors which can, to some extent, still be felt according to Dr. Joachim Seeler’s experience in Hamburg: “To my perception, investors exhibit a wait-and-see attitude: Do we want to make money at the expense of refugees?” According to him, the answer is a definite “yes”. It calls for creativity to overcome all obstacles and create affordable living space. Prof. Voigtländer, the representative of science, confirmed that first signs thereof would already be perceivable. “The refugee crisis awakens inventiveness.” Dr. Seeler could prove this statement by means of an example from the Hanseatic town: “We are currently screening off the A7 to create living space next to the highway”. For larger new building projects you need to be patient in Germany, however: “It will take about 15 years to finish new S-Bahn tracks”, he stated due to his own sorrowful experience. Henriette Reker confirmed both experiences: “We’ll have to find our own solutions and have to be patient”.
“We are an immigration country”
In his role as a representative of the German government, Florian Pronold displayed a strong attitude during his keynote. “The secret to success are concentration & political will, no matter whether it used to be transport infrastructure plan or nowadays concerning social housing.” He recognizes significant progress, for example with regard to initial reception: “One year ago, our country was exceeding its capacities, now we’re much better prepared.” He does, however, have to admit, that it is still a long way to solve all challenges coming along with migration. Pronold: “For 15 to 20 years, I have been fighting for an immigration right – because we are an immigration country.“