Spain Will Pay Jobless Migrants to Return Home

Daily Mail, September 22, 2008

Spain will pay jobless immigrants to go home under new plans revealed.

The measure was approved at a Cabinet meeting after a largely symbolic fast-track passage through Parliament.

The plan, which will come into force in around a month, targets tens of thousands of non-EU citizens who have been laid off in Spain and are entitled to unemployment benefits.

Under the scheme a jobless worker would receive a payment based on how long they have been working and how much they have been contributed into the social security system.

The average lump sum is expected to be between six and 18 months worth of unemployment benefit.

They will receive the sum in two parts—40 per cent while in Spain and 60 per cent when they have returned to their native country.

The programme is voluntary, and applies to people from 19 non-EU countries with which Spain has agreed that social security benefits accrued in one nation can be paid out in the other.

People who sign up for it must agree not to come back to Spain for three years, with the promise they will be able to recover their work and residency permits after that.

The initiative is the latest thrust by a government grappling with ever-swelling jobless ranks in an economy that had posted more than a decade of solid growth but is now flirting with recession.

Spanish unemployment is now an EU-high of 10.7 percent, according to the statistical agency Eurostat.

The meltdown stems mainly from a collapse in the construction industry, the main engine of all the growth and a key source of employment for low-skill workers from Latin America, North Africa and eastern Europe.

These immigrants are taking a particularly big hit as building companies lay off workers, and they are the ones the government now wants to pay to go home and stay there until things get better in Spain.

“We are trying to facilitate the return of those workers who, having contributed to the growth of this country, decide to go back to their own,” Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said.

No figures have been released but the government said in July it believed 10,000 jobless non-EU citizens—out of a total of 165,000 recorded as of that month—would go along with the plan.

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