Emigration from Catalonia. New challenges in mobility management

MIGRATIONS - May 9, 2013

Catalonia has become a welcoming space for immigration, though the severity of the economic crisis has served to reverse this trend; thus, since 2009, this has resulted in a slight decrease in immigration and a significant rise in emigration. Since 2009, emigration has experienced an annual increase of 8-9%. In 2013, the Catalan population residing abroad has now reached a total of 203,250, most of whom are based in EU countries, though there are also Catalans who have moved to Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela and the United States (INE [Spanish Statistical Office] 2013). This new situation has created the need for new measures, and to define public policies as guidelines for this phenomenon which, while it is often described in negative terms, could bring about new opportunities for the society of origin.

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Catalonia has become a welcoming space for immigration, though the severity of the economic crisis has served to reverse this trend; thus, since 2009, this has resulted in a slight decrease in immigration and a significant rise in emigration. Since 2009, emigration has experienced an annual increase of 8-9%. In 2013, the Catalan population residing abroad has now reached a total of 203,250, most of whom are based in EU countries, though there are also Catalans who have moved to Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela and the United States (INE [Spanish Statistical Office] 2013). This new situation has created the need for new measures, and to define public policies as guidelines for this phenomenon which, while it is often described in negative terms, could bring about new opportunities for the society of origin. There are several notable examples from around the world that have revealed the positive effects that can result from an organised diaspora which has strong links with the country of origin. This has been demonstrated by the cases of Israel, Ireland and China, countries that have taken advantage of having an emigrant population, to help the country grow and innovate. Thus, this debate on how to tackle the growing trend of emigration holds a particular importance for Catalonia.
It was this commitment to discover the real situation in other countries, guided by leading experts, that CIDOB, Government of Catalonia and Barcelona Provincial Council decided to organise this conference. The conference was the first of its kind in Spain, and represented an attempt to seek ideas, proposals and solutions to the challenge that emigration constitutes today. The conference was also devised with the aim of being inclusive, bringing in all possible actors and points of view, and based on the firm belief that what is needed are coordinated Solutions that will be accepted by general consensus.

Finally, we should point out that the phenomenon of emigration has arisen as a consequence of Catalonia’s difficult economic situation, and that the basic economic troubles represent a major part of the problem. Thus, we are not suggesting that emigration should be adopted as an alternative, or used as a form of escape valve. Nor should we forget that a great deal of work remains to be done with regard to the Management of immigration, as it would be a decidedly backward step for Catalan society to squander all the advances and achievements that have been made in this area.

>>Emigration from Catalonia, conference Report

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