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Spain-Morocco, April 9-13, 2003

Best Practices to Manage Migration:
Joaquin Arango and Philip Martin
June 24, 2003

The Cooperative Efforts to Manage Emigration (CEME) project examines ways in which countries of origin, transit, and destination can jointly manage migration movements and reduce emigration pressures. The project focuses on source countries of migration that are in transition to market economies and democratic systems of governance, developments that promise to reduce unauthorized migration. CEME organizes study visits to seek best practices for:
spurring economic development, democratization and respect for human rights in migrant areas of origin;
developing cooperative efforts that use the three R's associated with migration flows—recruitment, remittances, and returns—to reduce emigration pressures; and
promoting ongoing cooperation on migration matters between countries of origin, transit and destination.

In April 2003, CEME organized a site visit to southern Morocco and Spain. Morocco is a major country of emigration, sending workers to France, Spain, and other European countries. Spain is a "new" European country of immigration, making a migration transition in the mid-1980s, when Spain joined the EU. The visit focused on southern Spain, one of the least prosperous areas of Spain, with a high unemployment rate.
Spain: Unemployment-Immigration Paradox
Spain is a country of 41 million in Southern Europe whose population is stable, and would shrink without immigration. Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the EU and also the most rapid job growth, especially in the Madrid and Barcelona areas. Unemployment is over 30 percent in some of Spain's 52 provinces, but residents there say they cannot afford to move to areas with jobs.

Instead, immigrants are arriving to fill jobs in Spain. Moroccans are 20 percent of the 2 million foreigners in Spain, but Latin Americans (Ecuadorians, Colombians, and Argentineans) as well as Eastern Europeans (Romanians, Ukrainians, Poles, and Bulgarians) are Spain's fastest growing immigrant groups. Morocco applied for EU entry in 1987, but is not yet on the list of candidate countries, making freedom of movement a distant possibility. Spanish-Moroccan relations have been rocky recently, in part because of allegations that the Moroccan government does not do enough to prevent illegal emigration and drug smuggling, as well as Moroccan claims to the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

The OECD (2003) says that immigration in the 1990s has been associated with increased employment, as migrants preserve or expand low-wage services and allow Spanish women to work. However, migration's impacts on "labor productivity are less clear," and immigration has not reduced regional differences in unemployment rates (p13). The Spanish paradox is that immigration rose sharply in the 1990s despite persisting high unemployment rates—22 to 23 percent in the mid-1990s, and 15 percent in 2000, with young Spaniards entering the labor force often having trouble getting jobs. Most of the one million workers hired in Spain in the late 1990s got temporary rather than permanent or life-long contracts.

The most common explanation for the immigration and persisting high unemployment paradox is that rigid labor laws allow many Spanish workers to collect unemployment insurance benefits while working for cash wages. Labor force participation rates among Spanish women, youths, and older males are low, and many Spanish workers have reportedly become accustomed to accepting a short-term work contract, collecting Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits when the job ends, and then accepting another short-term work contract that is followed by UI benefits.

Agriculture provides an example of the paradox. There are about 100,000 migrant farm workers in Spain. Many traditionally followed a route that took them to the vineyards of the Rioja region when fruit picking in Catalunia was completed, then to the orange orchards in Valencia, and finally to the horticultural centers of Almeria and Murcia. Most migrants in 2000 worked nine-hour days for about $37 a day, but deductions were made for food, social security and lodging. These seasonal earnings were supplemented by UI benefits: in Andalucia and Extremadura, seasonal farm workers can collect up to 75 percent of the minimum wage in UI benefits for six months after working 35 days under a special UI system. In the past five years, foreigners have become the core of the migrant work force in agriculture.

The government has slow to reform the labor market. In 2002, employers could reduce their UI costs if they agreed that their layoffs were "unfair," but the OECD says that much more must be done to increase labor market flexibility. The OECD recommends that the Employment Service (INEM) should do more to place workers into jobs, that wage indexes that cover 75 percent of permanent workers be eliminated to reduce inflationary pressures, and that education be improved to increase female labor force participation and productivity.
Morocco: Political Economy
Morocco is a country of 30 million in North Africa whose population is growing by 1.9 percent or 570,000 a year; There are 1.5 to 2 million Moroccans abroad, primarily in France and Spain, but also in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, and other European countries. A third of Moroccans, and most of the Moroccans abroad, are Berbers, who are concentrated in the mountainous Rif and Atlas regions and have their own language, Amazigh. About 20 percent of Moroccans live in the northern provinces, which have only six percent of Moroccan GDP.

Morocco has been an independent constitutional monarchy since 1956, with Islam as the state religion and Arabic as the official language. It is currently led by King Mohammed VI, who promised liberalization when he came to power in 1999 to succeed his father, but he has been slow to give up his enormous constitutional powers to the elected Parliament. The Moroccan king has a dual role as temporal leader and spiritual guide; he appoints the government and prime minister and heads the armed forces. Parliament, which has limited power, has been dominated by conservative parties, but in 1997, leftist opposition parties formed a coalition government that included 40 ministers from seven parties; the number of ministers was reduced to 33 in 2000.

Morocco was ruled by the Alawi dynasty from the mid-17th century until 1912, when the kingdom became a Franco-Spanish "protectorate," with France dominating the south and Spain the north. In 1956, Morocco became independent and the Alawi monarchy was restored under King Mohammed V, whose son, King Hassan II (1961-1999), was succeeded by his son, the current King Mohammed VI. Current restrictions include discussing the role of the king in Morocco, the disputed phosphate-rich Western Sahara, and the role of Islam in the country.

Morocco is growing. There are about 20 million Moroccans age 15 and older, including 12 million in urban areas and eight million in rural areas. The labor force is 10.5 million, including 5.5 million in urban areas and five million in rural areas. Unemployment is estimated to be at least 1.5 million or 14 percent, but the unemployment rate is much higher in cities, 20 to 25 percent for women and 30 percent or more for university graduates. Economic growth in the 1990s averaged less than two percent a year, but six to eight percent growth is needed to provide jobs for the 200,000 to 300,000 labor force entrants each year. Since the population rose by two percent a year in the 1990s, poverty also rose, to about 20 percent of residents, with the highest poverty rates in rural areas in the central and north-central regions. Adult literary is low in Morocco—only 48 percent of adults are literate, and only 52 percent of children are enrolled in school, below e.g. Algeria's 67 and 72 percent school enrollment rates.

Agriculture employs 45 percent of the Moroccan labor force (60 percent of the female labor force) but accounted for only 11 to 18 percent of GDP in the 1990s. Agriculture's contribution to GDP varies with rainfall— farm output rose 10 percent with heavy rains in 1994, fell seven percent with drought in 1995, and rose 12 percent in 1996 with heavy rains. There are 8.7 million hectares of cultivated land, including 1.2 million irrigated hectares, much of which is controlled by large and export-oriented farms around Fes-Meknes and Casablanca. These irrigated areas, said to be controlled by the king's extended family in cooperation with foreign firms, produce 80 percent of Morocco's citrus and wine grapes and 33 percent of its vegetables.

Manufacturing employs 18 percent of the Moroccan work force. There are export-oriented sewing factories, but observers blame low productivity and high labor costs for the failure of export-oriented manufacturing to expand. Foreigners and Moroccans have been slow to invest in Morocco because of bureaucracy and uncertainty over the country's future. For example, some foreign investors are concerned that the government protects inefficient local businesses at the expense of foreign-owned firms that not connected to the king. It is estimated that half of Morocco's current firms would fail if there were free trade with the EU.

Morocco runs a trade deficit, which is offset by tourism receipts and remittances— remittances are about $2 billion a year, half from France. Tourism is also a major source of foreign exchange. Morocco attracts visitors from France, Germany and Spain, some 2.6 million foreign visitors, as well 1.6 million Moroccans living abroad who returned for visits in 2000, spending $2 billion. Most of the returning Moroccans travel by car through Spain and take ferries to Ceuta or Tangier.
Morocco: Bridge to Europe?
Morocco sees itself as a bridge between Europe and the Arab states. Morocco applied for EU membership in 1987, and signed an Association Accord with the EU in February 1996 that is expected to lead to free trade between Morocco and the EU by 2012. France and Spain are Morocco's most important trading partners—France takes a third of exports and Spain an eighth, and France provides a fourth of imports and Spain 10 percent.

During the guest worker era of the 1960s, Moroccans were recruited to work in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and other countries. Many stayed abroad, especially in France. More Moroccans would like to emigrate. A 1998 survey done for Casablanca's Le Journal found that 54 percent of Moroccans would "certainly" leave if they could, and another 17 percent would "probably" emigrate. Children as young as 10, so-called mice, are reportedly leaving Morocco because they are most likely to receive social services and be allowed to stay abroad. One Moroccan said, "The country (Morocco) is between two fires. On the one hand, [Spanish] television [received in Morocco] describes a paradise [in Europe] with money, power to consume and well-being. Here life is hard and they [people] are deprived of even the basics."

Spanish-Moroccan tensions persist over migration, drugs, fishing, and Moroccan claims on the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Nevertheless, some forms of economic cooperation remain. The Spanish and Moroccan governments have a joint program, called PAIDAR, that aims to develop Morocco's northern region, where there are about 70,000 hectares planted with cannabis, most of which is smuggled to Europe, but with limited impacts to date. In addition to Spain's own efforts, it works through the European Union to foster development in Morocco. Through the Barcelona Process of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the EU hopes to increase Moroccan cooperation to prevent the smuggling of migrants and drugs. The Barcelona Process ties the EU to non-EU states in the Mediterranean basin.

Spain's enclaves on the Morocco coast, Cueta and Melilla, have been surrounded since 1995 by barbed wire fences, and in 1999 the fences were raised from seven to 10 feet and topped with razor wire. Spain estimates that 15 to 20 unauthorized migrants slip into Ceuta every day, but it is hard to assess the level of unauthorized migration because residents of Teotuan in northern Morocco have the right to enter Ceuta with border crossing cards rather than visas. Many do so, buying goods that are carried by porters back to Morocco; there is duty free entry for as much as porters can carry on their backs, so there is a line of porters handling refrigerators and other appliances, as well as people in Ceuta throwing bags of goods over the fence into Morocco to waiting porters.
Spain: Emigration to Immigration Policy
Spain was a country of emigration until the mid-1970s, and two million Spanish citizens remain abroad. Between 1846 and 1932, some five million Spaniards emigrated, mostly to South America. Between 1962 and 1976 some two to three million Spaniards migrated to other European countries, usually as guest workers to France, Germany, Switzerland and other northern European countries. There was also significant internal migration within Spain, as six million Spaniards moved from one province to another in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Spain experienced guest worker and internal migration during the Spanish economic miracle between 1960 and 1974, when GDP growth averaged 6.6 percent a year because of foreign investment, tourism, and remittances from migrants abroad. Between 1973 and 1980, many of the guest workers returned, so that, when Spain entered the EU in 1986, it was a net immigration country, attracting more returning Spaniards and foreigners each year than were leaving. There was a second Spanish economic boom in the second half of the 1980s, as foreign investment and EU aid poured into the country. Spain's relatively small population of foreign residents began to grow and change, from mostly retirees from the UK, Germany, and other EU countries to foreign workers, many from Morocco, Latin America (especially from the Dominican Republic and Peru) and the Philippines. During the late 1990s, the foreign worker population continued to increase, as workers arrived from Ecuador and Colombia as well as Eastern Europe and China.

In June 2002, there were 1.3 million legal foreign residents in Spain, including a third from OECD countries and two-thirds from less developed countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe. The most important source country is Morocco, (263,000 residence permit holders), followed by Ecuador, Colombia, China, Romania, and Peru. Over 40 percent of the foreigners live in Madrid and Barcelona, and another third are in eight provinces in the Mediterranean coast and the Canary and Balearic islands. Spain is a destination for migrants as well as a transit country for migrants from Africa and Latin America headed to other European countries, and migrants coming from or through other EU countries on their way home transit Spain.

The number of legal foreigners in Spain has increased rapidly, from 430,000 in 1993 to 539,000 in 1996, 800,000 in 1999, and 1.3 million in 2002—the jump 2000-02 reflected a large-scale regularization, reflected in the fact that the number of non-EU foreigners affiliated with the Spanish Social Security system increased 74 percent, from 212,000 to 448,000 between 1999 and 2002.

Modern Spanish migration policy began with the Ley de Extranjera of 1985, which was enacted so that the Spanish government gained more power to regulate non-EU migration on the eve of Spain's accession to the EU. The 1985 law included fines but not criminal penalties on employers who knowingly hired illegal immigrants. However, with many Spanish as well as migrant workers employed in the underground economy, enforcement of the sanctions law has been limited. As a tourist destination, Spain has been liberal in allowing foreigners to enter without visas. Visas were required of Moroccans only in 1991, followed by a visa requirement for some Latin American countries in 1992.

Spanish migration policy is evolving, with Cornelius (2003) summarizing the dilemma as how to allow enough migrants to sustain the sectors of the economy that depend on them while maintaining enough control to prevent a backlash against foreigners and immigration. Asserting that migration is under control is difficult because a high percentage of migrants in Spain are unauthorized—at least 600,000 by most estimates-- and some Spaniards associate immigration with rising crime.

President José María Aznar and the center-right Partido Popular, in power since 1996, have made deterring illegal immigration a top priority. An immigration law passed in February 2000, over the objections of Aznar, offered all migrant children K-12 education and emergency medical care, and gave migrants the right to hold demonstrations and to join unions. However, the Aznar government amended the law in December 2000, tightening the law in several ways, including the assertion that the only way to gain legal status today is to receive a work permit before arrival in Spain and that there would be no more regularizations—the only way to gain legal status today is to receive a work permit before arrival in Spain.

There is a potential for local incidents to lead to tensions that can be exploited by anti-immigrant groups. In February 2000, a Moroccan migrant killed a local woman in the 50,000-resident city of El Ejido, 25 miles west of the port city of Almeria and near the popular beach resorts of the Costa del Sol. This prompted several days of attacks on some of the 10,000 Moroccan workers in the area who worked on farms that produce fruits and vegetables under plastic sheeting using drip irrigation. Andalusia's Socialist leader Manuel Chaves sympathized with the migrants, saying "If they left, El Ejido's economic activity would collapse." In El Ejido, authorities promised to rebuild the destroyed worker housing and to provide work permits to some of the 5,000 illegal workers, but the situation had not changed much by 2003.

In July 1999, an anti-immigrant protest in a working-class neighborhood of Terrassa, a city of 175,000 near Barcelona, with a 10 percent Moroccan population, turned violent. A Moroccan youth was attacked and the protesters shouted "Moroccans out" and "No more Moroccans." It should be emphasized that most Moroccans do not commit crimes in Spain, but the minority that do have made Moroccan and criminal a common link in the minds of many people.
Spain: Illegal Immigration
Illegal immigration is a major issue in Spain. In 2002 there were an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 illegal migrants, even after a two-year regularization program that legalized 400,000 migrants, 25 percent Moroccans. The census of October 2001 counted 1,572,000 foreigners in Spain, while municipal registers in January 2002 had 1,620,000 foreigners. However, there were only 1,109,000 residence permit holders, suggesting at least 500,000 unauthorized foreigners.

Since 1986 Spain has had four legalizations, in 1986, 1991, 1996 and 2000-2002, and they legalized a total of 600,000 foreigners. Additionally, in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998 and 1999 labor entry quotas (contingentes) granted 20,000 to 30,000 unauthorized workers a year de facto legal status (Arango 2000, p. 259). These data suggest that most currently legal foreigners from Africa, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe were previously illegal at some point, and that some came legally and become illegal, while others may have been legalized several times. Legal status is a fluid concept in Spain, due in part to the past system of separate, short-term work and residence permits, so that migrants could move into and out of legal status. For example, each time a migrant changes employers, he had to get a new work permit under the old system, which required a social security card, but few Spanish employers enrolled especially illegal workers in social security, so a legal worker could become illegal by changing employers.

Illegal migrants arrive in several ways. Many Latin Americans come with tourist visas, often through other EU countries (Amsterdam was a frequently mentioned entry point), and go to work, while most Africans cross the 14-km (8.7 mile) wide Strait of Gibraltar in small boats called pateras. Over 18,000 migrants in pateras were arrested by Spanish police in 2002, up from the 3,600 in 1999, and an additional 15,000 were arrested by Moroccan authorities. Spanish police boats patrol the Strait, and estimate they catch one in four migrants attempting entry into Spain. Those caught are taken to detention centers in Spain, and the Moroccans among them are deported by ferry back to Morocco. Those who succeed usually head towards the intensive-agriculture areas of Almeria, Murcia and Huelva. Asians arrive via many routes, including via Schengen visas issued by e.g. Greece or other Schengen-member countries.

The small boats traveling between Spain and Morocco have been the focus of recent control efforts under SIVE (an integrated system of surveillance). In the Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean mixes with the Atlantic, producing some of the most turbulent waters in the world, and leading to frequent boats sinkings that drowned an estimated 200 migrants in 2001.

As Spain cracks down on smuggling across the Strait of Gibraltar, many smugglers have re-directed migrants to the eastern provinces of Granada and Almeria and to the Canary Islands, which are 60-miles from the Morocco coast. Authorities on Fuerteventura, an island of 42,000 residents, in 1999 reported that boats carrying illegal migrants were landing on tourist-packed beaches almost every day. In 1999, the island police arrested 1,000 immigrants, three times the figure in 1998, and over 4,000 in 200; two-thirds were Moroccans. Migrants can see the Canary Islands' El Roque lighthouse from the African coast; the boat ride takes about 12 hours and smugglers charge $500 to $2,500. Some worry that continued illegal migration will detract from tourism; the Canary Islands receive about 10 million visitors a year.
Spain: Guest Workers
Spain allows the entry of legal foreign workers under a quota or contingente system introduced in 1993 and last modified by the Immigration Act of 2000. It distinguishes between temporary permits for jobs that last less than one year and permanent or stable permits for longer-term jobs. Current policy requires foreign workers to have work permits before arrival. They receive these permits under a system in which Spanish employers seeking guest workers prepare generic job offers and make their requests via to the Spanish ES (INEM). Each provincial INEM committee sends a recommended number of work permits for foreigners to the Ministry of Labor, which transmits them to Spanish embassies in Morocco, DR, Colombia, Ecuador, Romania, and Poland, where workers are recruited primarily by local governments under bilateral labor agreements that include a proviso that these countries accept the readmission of their nationals.

In 2002, employers requested 31,000 temporary and 80,000 stable permits, and the MOL approved 21,200 temporary (75 percent for agriculture and 15 percent for construction) and 10,900 stable permits. Under the contingente system, seasonal foreign workers may enter Spain for up to nine months and, after completing three years of seasonal work, can become immigrants. Legal migrant workers in Spain are protected by minimum wage and other laws, accrue social security and retirement benefits, and earn vacation benefits; Spanish employers are responsible for providing their transportation and lodging. However, many of the contingente permits are not used. For example, in 2002, only 9,100 seasonal work permits were issued, compared with 3,600 in 2001, 508 in 2000, and 34 in 1999. Catalonia and Andalusia each received a third of these 2002 seasonal permits, and 60 percent went to Poles and 20 percent to Moroccans.

In June 2002, Moroccan and Algerian migrants staged a hunger strike near the EU summit in Seville to protest what they said was their displacement by Eastern Europeans to pick strawberries. The protesting migrants said they earned $25 a day in 2001, and were not hired in 2002 because Huelva-area employers hired Eastern Europeans; the employers said that they had been fined for hiring unauthorized Moroccan workers, and thus switched to legal Eastern Europeans. Many of the Eastern Europeans are young women who live in cabins that were once rented for summer holidays before tourists moved into beachside hotels. Employers paid the Euro 2 a day charge for housing for their migrants, and many of the Eastern Europeans shared the cars in which they had driven to Spain for local transportation.

Spain's two principal labor union confederations, the Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) and the Union General de Trabajadores (UGT), welcome migrants, legal or illegal, as members Cornelius (2003). The Confederacion Espanola de Organizaciones Empresariales (CEOE), the nation's largest employer association, has expressed concern about labor shortages in some sectors and favors the admission of additional foreign workers.
Morocco is a country with regional and other inequalities. Emigration pressures remain very high in the north of the country closest to Spain, where the Berber minority is rapidly urbanizing. Many Spanish NGOs are helping especially Berber women who migrated from rural to urban areas to achieve literacy, skills in sewing garments, and empowerment. These NGO activities help individuals, but it is not clear that they are successfully transforming northern Morocco in a way that promises stay-at-home development. This is worrisome, since current trends suggest that fast-growing Morocco and slow-growing Spain will have similar populations by 2025.

It is clear that Spain is in the EU's chief frontline state that deals with attempted illegal entries by boat from Africa. Smuggling operations based in Tangier and other Moroccan ports attempt to move Moroccans and others across the Strait of Gibraltar, and Spain advocates EU cooperation to patrol the Strait of Gibraltar to deter such clandestine migration. One source of tension between Spain and Morocco is the sense that Morocco is not cooperating enough with Spanish and EU efforts to deter unauthorized migration.

In southern Spain, labor-intensive agriculture expanded significantly in the 1990s, and the seasonal work force employed seasonally in fruit and vegetable operations that sell their produce to northern EU nations changed from Moroccans to Eastern Europeans and Latin Americans. This has led to tensions in some places, as jobless Moroccan men protest that employers prefer "fellow Catholics," often women from Eastern Europe.

Spain appears set to repeat the mistakes of other European countries, accepting guest workers from many countries and developing networks that can send more migrants legally and illegally to Spain. The paradox of fewer legal guest workers than there are slots available for them, and persisting illegal immigration as well as high unemployment, suggests that many employers and migrants prefer to operate outside the guest worker and formal economic system. Until interior enforcement becomes more effective, foreigners who succeed in entering Spain are likely to be able to continue to find jobs, which will lead to pressures for future legalizations.
Arango, Joaquín. 2002. La fisonomia de la inmigracion en España. in Pedro Reques, ed., El nuevo orden demográfico. Madrid: El Campo de las Ciencias y de las Artes. 237-262

Arango, Joaquín. 2000. "Becoming a Country of Immigration at the End of the Twentieth Century: The Case of Spain," pp. 253-276 in Russell King, Gabriella Lazaridis, and Charalambos Tsardanidis, eds., Eldorado or Fortress?—Migration in Southern Europe. London: Macmillan.

Cornelius, Wayne A. 2003. Spain: The Uneasy Transition From Labor Exporter To Labor Importer. Forthcoming in Cornelius, Wayne A., Philip L. Martin and James F. Hollifield. Eds. 2003. Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Juntunen, Marko. 2002. Between Morocco and Spain: Men, migrant smuggling and a dispersed Moroccan community. Thesis. University of Helsinki.