Staff Reporter
THIRTEEN out of every 100 residents in the Balearic Islands are foreigners, the majority of them originating from countries outside the European Union.

The trend has been setting in over recent years, resulting in citizens of the European Union who live on the Islands, losing their numerical dominance over those from other parts of the globe.

The Balearics is the region of Spain with the highest proportion of foreign residents in the country. According to a report tabled at the last meeting of the Economic and Social Board (CES), numbers of expatriates in the Balearics have tripled since 1996.

In the study, entitled “Immigration and the Job Market in Spain”, the CES favours simplifying current ways of enabling immigrant workers to access job contracts. It aims to establish a means of solving the difficulties of “unofficial” immigrants on an individual basis, linked to how they (the immigrants) have settled on the Islands.

According to this document, the Balearics has transformed from counting 4.2 foreign heads for every 100 citizens in 1996, to 13.2 foreign heads for every 100 citizens today. The figure portrays the highest percentage in any of Spain's self-governing Communities.

Madrid occupies second place in terms of foreign population, with 10.3 for every 100 residents, followed by the Canary Islands with 9.5; and Valencia with 9.3, whilst Extremadura and Asturias are the regions with the lowest foreign resident population, with 1.7 and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Another feature highlighted in the CES report is that in 1996, the largest part of the foreign population of the Balearics was made up of people originating in other countries of the European Union (three out of every four), but this trend has now reversed and it is those from other parts of the globe who outnumber the European foreigners. Of the 13.4 foreigners who live on the Islands for every 100 citizens, 7.4 originate from outside the European Union and 6 from within it.

In relation to the current channels open to immigrants for securing a contract of employment, the Economic and Social Board is opting for simplification of application procedures. The Board also wants to strengthen the links between the offer of labour brought by immigrants to the Islands, and the demands of the Spanish labour market.

The report makes an in-depth study of immigration to Spain centred on foreigners from outside the European Union, which now encompasses 4.9 percent of the residential population. It signals that the work situation of this group is predominantly in low-class jobs; suffering high levels of unemployment amongst the young, female element; prone to acceptance of temporary employment resulting in regular rotation between seasonal employment and collection of unemployment benefit. Such foreigners also take on a considerable amount of uninsured jobs on the “black” labour market.

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