Portugal wants its emigrants back – so it’s paying them to return

migration

Ibrahim and his family, resettled refugees from Sudan, recently moved into their first apartment in Madrid, Spain. After a year spent in a reception centre, the family is adjusting to living independently. © UNHCR/M.J.Vega

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: David Elliott, Chief Sub-Editor, Formative Content


Portugal boasts pristine beaches, thousands of hours of annual sunshine and cuisine that includes little custard tarts that are enjoyed far beyond its borders.

Despite these attractions, the percentage of its citizens living abroad is one of the highest in the world. And with a lack of skilled workers and an ageing, shrinking population disrupting the labour market, it’s launched a bid to tempt them to return.

The Regressar scheme offers former residents who have lived away for at least three years incentives to move back. Those who do will have their income tax bills halved for five years. And there’s cash to help with relocation for anyone taking a job.

Portugal already gives investors and job creators the right to live in the country. It offers tax breaks for skilled migrants too. But the new programme wants people back even if they’re not highly skilled or well-paid.

Image: Statista

Hiring headache

The country has been hit hard by financial crises in the past decade, during which younger, educated people left in droves – 50,000 people a year left permanently between 2011 and 2014, according to the government.

The economy bounced back after an EU bail-out in 2011, fuelled by tourism, a growing tech industry and strong exports. But while gross domestic product has returned to pre-crisis levels and unemployment has dropped, companies are complaining of a huge shortage of qualified workers.

More than half of the country’s CEOs told a survey by recruitment consultant Stanton Chase that finding such workers was their “biggest headache”. And according to the head of the Portuguese Business Confederation, the problem persists in every sector.

The government says many of those who left the country at the start of the decade belong to one of Portugal’s most qualified generations ever, making the new scheme “a necessity”.

Further concern

Portugal is not the only European country that wants people to return. Poland has scrapped income tax for younger emigrants in an attempt to fill its own skills gap by attracting some of the 1.7 million people who have left over the past 15 years.

Emigration is worrying other nations, too, according to a recent survey of 14 EU countries by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFT). In Italy, Romania and Spain, citizens are more concerned about people leaving their country than coming in.

And some even think nationals should be prevented from leaving the country for long periods of time.

An essential fix

And what about immigration? An MIT study that collated polls from 27 European nations across nearly 40 years says people have become more receptive to the idea in recent decades.

However, while most don’t consider immigration and border controls their primary concern, per the ECFT survey, they are recurring issues across the continent. Majorities in every member state polled support “better protecting” Europe’s borders.

From Brexit and campaigning for the recent European elections to the rise of populism in countries including Italy and Hungary, migration continues to dominate the political agenda around the continent.

For Portugal, though, opening its doors is a priority. Prime Minister António Costa says immigration is essential to beat the country’s demographic crisis, and recently called for Europe to “mobilise against populism and xenophobia”.

The Regressar scheme, meanwhile, is already attracting interest – about 1,700 people from 72 countries have registered on an accompanying online portal designed for people looking for work before they return.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

EU Telecoms deal: Fees on calls across the EU capped and 5G network by 2020

For Youth Rights: steps forward for better protection.

New migration pact highlights key role of business in protecting migrants, say UN experts

Changing world of work needs new jobs strategy

European Union supports survivors of sexual violence in conflict

EU elections 2019: Rise of nationalist trends and populism in Europe challenges the EU edifice

It’s Time to Disrupt Europe, Digital First

2018 Golden Pen of Freedom Awarded to Maria Ressa of the Philippines

Devastating storms like Hurricane Florence ‘unusual this far north’: UN weather agency

The financial crisis always prefers the south of Eurozone

What is the IMF telling Eurozone about fiscal and banking unification?

The most unlikely innovators are changing ICT for development – it’s time we took notice

Seize the opportunities of digital technology to improve well-being but also address the risks

Polluted lungs: health in the center of environment discussion

International tourism arrivals hit record high in 2017, UN agency reports

South Sudan: ‘Horrific acts’ by government may constitute ‘war crimes’ says UN, demanding justice

This Scottish forest is both a home for wildlife and a boost for the local economy

A Sting Exclusive: “Infrastructure can lay the groundwork for the Sustainable Development Goals” by Mr Fulai Sheng, UN Environment Senior Economist

“A sustainable economy, low-carbon, resource-efficient, resilient and more competitive on the global stage”, EU Commissioner Vella in a Sting Exclusive

UN civil society conference to focus on sustainable solutions for challenges of urban life

US and China in painstaking efforts to conclude trade talks

Spanish vote – bad luck for Greece: Does Iphigenia need to be sacrificed for favourable winds to blow in Eurozone?

EU threatens Japan to suspend FTA negotiations if…

Poland: €676 million worth of EU investments in better rails and roads

Employment MEPs want to ensure more flexibility and clarity for EU mobile workers

Central African Republic militia leader and football executive, transferred to ICC

Why financial services can kickstart Africa’s digital economy

EU Directive makes haircut on uncovered deposits a standard in bank bail-ins

Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May at last week’s EU Council. Source: EC Audiovisual Services / Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Photo: Etienne Ansotte

EU leaders open “Phase Two” of Brexit talks and warn Theresa May of tougher times

The European Youth Forum needs better signal for its “call” for Quality Internships

False promises to Small and Medium Enterprises

A challenge for inclusion in the Dominican Republic’s health care services

Financial inclusion in India is soaring. Here’s what must happen next

UN investigates systematic sexual violence across South Sudan

Europeans are living beyond Earth’s means

UNICEF reports uneven progress in 30 years of child rights treaty

What is digital equality? An interview with Nanjira Sambuli

Digital IDs and the Digital Economy: the (still) missing link?

Germany takes cover from Trump in Eurozone and decides to pay for it

Angola’s President João Lourenço calls for stronger EU-Africa cooperation

Further reforms in France can drive growth, improve public finances and boost social cohesion

How to tap the talents of refugees – one student at a time

Senior UN children’s advocate says they ‘should never be targeted by violence’

The big five EU telecom operators in dire straights

David Attenborough’s worried about this ocean threat – and it’s not plastic

Appalling overall unemployment in Eurozone at 20.6%

Venezuela: UN human rights office calls for ‘maximum restraint’ by authorities in face of new demonstrations

Should we be worried about third-hand smoke?

Crowdfunding: what it is and what it may become

Further reforms in Japan needed to meet the challenges of population ageing and high public debt

World Mental Health Day is a chance to listen to those with the condition – the biggest experts of all

COP21 Breaking News: Conference of Youth Focuses on Hard Skills to Drive Greater Climate Action

‘Immense’ needs of migrants making perilous journey between Yemen and Horn of Africa prompts $45 million UN migration agency appeal

It’s a frenzied clash between moderates and no-deal Brexiteers

SDG progress ‘in danger’ of going backwards without change in direction, new UN report reveals

Jakarta is one of the world’s fastest disappearing cities

From Shadows to Sunlight, Paraguay’s Road to Transparency

ECB steadily continues monetary easing policy as EU economy gains momentum

Is a full course lunch, a new Commissioner and 2 million anti-TTIP citizens what you would call a “Fresh Start”?

The latest emoji are more inclusive – but who approves them?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s