ENCARNACIÓN Pastor, the Balearic minister of immigration, has asked Brussels to allow seasonal migrant workers who return to their homeland voluntarily when their jobs end to receive the unemployment pay and other benefits to which they are entitled in that country.
She made the proposal to Franco Frattini, European Union Justice and Security Commissioner, at a meeting in Brussels.
Pastor said that her proposal would put an end to the problems caused when the workers try to arrange for their families to join them, putting a strain on education, health and other services.
And, she added, by returning home and receiving benefits from abroad, they would be acting as development agents, educating their children there, and therefore halting the brain drain. Pastor explained that this system was used in the Balearic Islands in the 1960s, for migrant workers from other parts of Spain who, when the harvest was over, would return to their home towns or villages and boost development there.
Later, Pastor told the media that Frattini had been delighted with the idea and had asked her to submit a formal project. Pastor said that she would do this, and would also send a copy to the central government.
Pastor also informed Frattini of her concern over the fact that Balearic residents from non European Union countries do not have the right to discounts on fares for transport between the islands, and between the islands and the Peninsula.
Pastor said she also spoke to Frattini about the immigration situation in the Balearics, which have the highest percentage of immigration in all Spain. Pastor also discussed co-development projects which the Balearic government is carrying out in Morocco, Senegal and Mauritania through the recently-formed co-operation agency. She said that she will be seeking European Union aid to co-finance these projects.