Asylum-seekers in Germany will have to learn German and attempt to find work or face losing access to benefits, under a package of new laws agreed on Thursday by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.

Germany is facing a massive integration challenge after more than 1.1 million asylum-seekers arrived under Mrs Merkel’s “open-door” refugee policy.

While many will eventually have their asylum claims rejected, hundreds of thousands are expected to be allowed to remain. Mrs Merkel described the new laws as “an opportunity for all, but also a duty for all”.

“We will have a German national law on integration. This is the first time this has happened in post-war Germany,” Mrs Merkel told a press conference in Berlin. “We will take a series of measures which make it clear it is a duty to integrate.”

The labour market will be opened up to asylum-seekers and the government plans to create 100,000 new jobs using public funds.

Many of these are expected to be low-paying so-called one-euro jobs topped up with in-work benefits. But the new employment opportunities will not be open to asylum-seekers from countries officially considered “safe”, who will now face speedier deportation.

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