Romanian immigrants benefit from booming home-country

Romanian immigrants benefit from booming home-country

22nd April 2008, Comments 0 comments

A slump in the building sector in Spain coupled with a growing Romanian industry is forcing Romanians to look back east.

CASTELLON - In the face of the rapid cooling of the Spanish economy caused in part by the global credit crisis, warnings that unemployment would continue to rise were echoed by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who said the government would offer financial incentives for more than 400,000 unemployed foreigners to return to their home countries.

One of the foreign communities that have been hit hardest by the economic slump in the construction industry are Romanians, the second-largest foreign community with 604,000 official residents in Spain - after Moroccans, who number 648,000.

A Romanian delegation travelled to Castellón earlier in the month (April) with 11,000 jobs on offer to returnees.

Castellón is the city outside Romania with "the greatest number of compatriots," said Catalin Boicu, labour secretary of the Romanian Embassy in Madrid, who explained that some 50,000 Romanians live in Castellón province.

"For that reason we have chosen [Castellón] for our first contact to recruit our immigrants to plug the labour shortage in our country," said Boicu. Akos Derzsi, an official from Romania's Labour Ministry who accompanied Boicu, said that the situation in his country is much better than when these Romanian immigrants migrated to Spain.

Derzsi attributes the improved economic situation in Romania to the structural changes that have been implemented as a result of Romania's EU membership, which has in turn attracted investment.

Derzsi told his countrymen in Castellón that it is not only the Romanian labour agency that needs them, but foreign companies such as Bechtel, which is now building freeways throughout the northwestern region of Transylvania.

Labour demand is so great in Romania that it appears that even Spanish construction companies that are active throughout the country are seeking to employ Romanians who have worked for the construction industry in Spain.

"In Bucharest you can buy land starting from EUR 35 per square meter," said Ionel Scrofan, president of the Romanian business association of Castellón.

"Living standards have risen and it is a very attractive country to invest in."

Between May and June, another Romanian delegation attempting to lure Romanian workers to their home country will visit cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Zaragoza.

In the Madrid region alone there are about 200,000 Romanian residents. In 2007 the Romanian population in Spain grew by 185.8 percent.

"Yes, it is nice but it is not all that clear," said Ovido Nocolae Fodor, an immigrant and father of two high school students in Spain. "Those of us who have made a living [in Spain], those of us who have to pay a mortgage, how can we sell everything and work for a salary that starts at EUR 500?"

Apart from the work-related campaign to attract Romanian labourers to return to their home country, officials are also offering incentives such as accident insurance and social security that can be found in modern social welfare states.

[El Pais / Joan M. Oleaque / ANP /Expatica]

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