Romania’s coming home

Spain’s Romanian immigrants have been badly affected by the economic crisis. The governments of Madrid and Bucharest are considering measures to help finance their return home to Romania, where labour is in short supply.

Published on 1 June 2009 at 15:24

Romanian and Spanish authorities are discussing a plan to provide incentives for unemployed Romanian migrants to return home to fill public sector vacancies. In recent times, Romania has had trouble finding enough workers to go ahead with the construction of motorways and other infrastructure which in Romania can be counted on the fingers of one hand,. The initiative was launched by the Federation of Romanian Associations in Europe (FADERE) when it suggested that governments should offer relocation assistance for 300,000 jobless immigrants in Spain (Spain currently has a Romanian population of 700,000) who may wish to return to Romania. The Spanish government immediately voiced support when it announced that it would cover travel costs for the project.

The plan is also likely to receive a positive response in Bucharest, where President Traian Basescu, has declared that his government welcomed the return of Romanian workers, who could help “alleviate a painful situation, where public works projects have to be put on hold because of the labour shortage.” He further added that he was expecting the Romanian economy “to resume growing within the next two years.”

FADERE will shortly present a list of concrete proposals to the Spanish government, and it also believes that Romanian authorities should support the initiative with specific measures to facilitate the reinsertion of returning exiles in the job market, such as finance for skills training in economic sectors where labour is short in supply, and tax exemptions for companies that employ returning migrants.

Another sensitive issue for Romanians of the economic diaspora is the question of the integration of their children on arrival in their home country. Representatives of FADERE have proposed the organization of Romanian language, literature and cultural classes for migrants’ children, especially for those born abroad. They have also demanded recognition of diplomas and schooling that children have received in foreign countries.

If the plan is implemented, jobless Romanians in Spain will be faced with a complex choice. The unemployment benefit they receive from the Spanish state, which averages between 800 and 1,000 euros a month, is often considerably higher than the wages they could expect to earn if they returned home.

At the same time, the Romanian government should certainly be aware that Romanians living abroad continue to make a hefty contribution to Romania’s GDP, even if this revenue stream is now declining. In the first quarter of 2009, Romanians living abroad sent 1.9 billion euros home, 154 million less than the sum sent over the same period last year.

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