In an unusual pitch that runs counter-current to the fear-mongering, anti-immigrant rhetoric of nationalist parties across Europe in recent years, Spain’s new Minister for Inclusion, Social Security & Immigration said during a meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris last week that developed countries should be welcoming economic migrants as a boon to their economies and a means of reversing deficits in beleaguered public pension systems.
During a meeting of government ministers convened by the OECD to discuss Immigration and Integration, José Luis Escrivá put forward the position of the government of Spanish President Pedro Sánchez, telling his audience point blank that “Europe has to receive many more immigrants in the coming years because the aging of the population cannot be reversed”.
“Immigration is not only a humanitarian problem”, Escrivá said, “but it is also an opportunity for (economic) growth and for the sustainability of the pension system”.
Escrivá, an independent 50-year old economist with no previous political track record, was a technocrat with expertise in fiscal oversight prior to joining the new Sánchez government. From 2015-2019, Escrivá was president of the European Union Independent Fiscal Institutions Network and also served as president of Spain’s Independent Authority for Fiscal Responsibility (AIReF) from 2014 until being named minister by Sánchez earlier this month.
During his time at AIReF, Escrivá advocated a formula for making Spain’s pension system solvent that includes increasing the number of economic migrants allowed into Spain by 270,000 per year in order to ensure increased pay-in to the system, extending the retirement age for Spanish workers beyond 65 years and taking complementary private pension plans out of the hands of financial institutions and allowing companies themselves to provide the complementary plans to their workers.
According to Spanish press reports, Pedro Sánchez was so impressed by Escrivá’s recipe for managing the pension system that he specifically drafted the technocrat into his cabinet for that purpose, placing him in charge of a custom-built Inclusion, Social Security & Immigration Ministry.
Amalgamating the public pension system jurisdiction formerly held under the Labour Ministry, the new ministry under Escrivá also shoulders responsibilities for immigration and refugees that were previously the jurisdiction of Spain’s Interior Ministry.
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