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.

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

Canada has created an Arctic conservation zone almost as big as Germany

Global climate change: consequences for human health in Brazilian cities

How technology is driving a fourth wave of environmentalism

State aid: Commission concludes that recapitalisation of German NordLB is market conform

Tax reforms accelerating with push to lower corporate tax rates

South Sudanese refugees need $2.7 billion, as safe return remains elusive

MEPs and EU ministers agree on closing information gaps to enhance security

Disintegrating Tories will void May’s pledge for Brexit deal in seven weeks

Poor Greeks, Irish and Spaniards still pay for the faults of German and French banks

Batteries can power sustainable development. Here’s how

Will Merkel ever steer the EU migration Titanic and restore her power in Germany?

They have more than 30 words for “apple core”, and other things you didn’t know about Switzerland

3 steps to boost your digital safety while working from home

‘Much more’ can be done to raise awareness about the plight of persons with albinism: UN chief

Eurozone: How can 200 banks find €400 billion?

IMF: How To Deal With Failed Banks

In New Zealand it takes less than a day to start a business

How can we measure real progress on the Sustainable Development Goals?

This is the state of the world’s health, in numbers

Mental health: what can be done to diminish increasing suicide rates?

Eurozone to enter the winter…

Why embracing human rights will ensure Artificial Intelligence works for all

GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas

Bitpay @ TheNextWeb 2014: Innovation’s Best Friend

GSMA announces speakers for Mobile 360 Series-West Africa

Towards a seamless internal EU market for industrial goods

EU to manage external borders against the will of member states; Greece to be the first target

What’s happening to Greenland will affect the whole world – and our leaders need to understand why

SPB TV @ MWC14: The TV of the Future

Fairer and clearer rules on social benefits for EU mobile workers agreed

The European Agenda on Migration: EU needs to sustain progress made over the past 4 years

Can the national and age groups pockets of unemployment cause irreparable damages to Eurozone?

Statement by the Brexit Steering Group on UK paper on EU citizens in the UK

MEPs call for a reduction in pesticides to protect bees

FROM THE FIELD: Finding refuge in the ‘beautiful game’

EU Citizenship: New survey shows EU citizens are more aware of their rights

UN chief calls for ‘a fair globalization’ with first-ever Global Goals Summit

Varna (Bulgaria) awarded European Youth Capital 2017

What makes us happy? AI scanned 700,000 journal entries to find out

Closing the loop: Commission delivers on Circular Economy Action Plan

‘We will not give up on looking for peace for South Sudan’: UN deputy chief

Commission caps charges on card and Internet payments and enforces competition

5 leadership lessons I learned from doing my own ‘undercover boss’

Postal workers in France are helping elderly people fight loneliness

Finnish Prime Minister calls for a more united EU of concrete actions

UN chief urges top digital tech panel to come up with ‘bold, innovative ideas’ for an ‘inclusive’ future

JADE President opens JADE Spring Meeting 2014

The “Legend of the Sun” wishes you Happy Chinese New Year 2015 from Brussels

Peace in the Gulf ‘at a critical juncture’ says DiCarlo, urging continuation of Iran nuclear deal

Banks launch green charter to help shipping reduce its carbon footprint

Global growth is slowing amid rising trade and financial risks

UN chief extends condolences to families of China landslide casualties

ECB’s new money bonanza handed out to help the real economy or create new bubbles?

“Working together to make a change at the COP 21 in Paris”, an article by Ambassador Yang of the Chinese Mission to EU

Coronavirus: harmonised standards for medical devices to respond to urgent needs

‘Preserve, revitalize and promote’ indigenous languages, or lose a ‘wealth of traditional knowledge’, UN chief says

Brexit deal approved by the European Parliament

Dreaming of China

Green Deal: Coal and other carbon-intensive regions and the Commission launch the European Just Transition Platform

Failing to see reality or deceiving the masses? The EU about poverty and social exclusion

More Stings?

Advertising

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