The geopolitical upheavals that have affected the countries of the southern rim of the Mediterranean in 2011 have had a significant impact on migration from that region to the countries of southern Europe. Apart from this one-off influx, however, Spain seems to be coming to the end of a cycle in terms of immigration.
As Paula Cusi Echaniz shows here, after almost 20 years of sustained economic growth which has coincided with a high rise in immigration to a country that in fact had a tradition of emigration, Spain is completing its “migratory transition”. After outlining the characteristics of, and trends in, immigration to Spain between 1990 and 2009, which was essentially economic in motivation (labour shortages), she stresses the recent impact of the 2008 economic crisis that has plunged the country into a very serious recession and (coincidentally?) led to a marked slow-down in immigration flows.
Showing the impact of immigration on Spanish society, Cusi Echaniz presents the political and institutional responses (including in cooperation with the European Union). She also highlights the new challenges that arise in the present economic downturn, which no longer concern only the control of flows, but relate also – and most importantly – to the integration of the immigrant populations (into employment, education and institutions etc.), to anti-discrimination policies and the respect for cultural diversity, in an ageing country that needs this contribution from migrants, but has little long-term experience in the field.