Spain's national statistics service said more than 40,000 Spaniards abandoned the country in search of work during the first six months of last year, up sharply from the 28,000 during the same period in 2011. The same agency said this week that unemployment has reached a record 26 percent in Spain.
Reducing roadblocks is urgent for the leaders at this summit. The IMF forecasts the Latin American and Caribbean economies to grow 3.6 percent this year even as Europe retreats 0.2 percent. The continents' economies are inexorably tied to each other, with EU countries representing 43 percent of Latin America's international trade. Making it easier for workers to move to where the jobs are can help all these countries, in part by increasing the remittances people send home to their families.
Chile isn't unique in the demands it places on foreign workers. Brazil and Argentina are famous for their red tape, and lacking EU citizenship, many Latin Americans haven't been welcomed into Europe's job market, either.
The summit agenda includes fostering "best practices" for lowering barriers to work. One example: representatives of 400 universities on both sides of the Atlantic met in Santiago this week to create a "common space for higher education," with the goal of standardizing the degrees and certifications awarded throughout both regions.The agenda also advocates equal treatment for citizens of all nations, a sore point in the former colonies of Europe. While EU citizens can enter any country in the region on tourist visas, Latin Americans have been humiliated in Europe's airports, interrogated and sent home even though they said they complied with the entry rules. "Welcome to a better world," is how Chile's President Sebastian Pinera greeted his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy, a tongue-in-cheek phrase that resonates on all sorts of levels for travelers between both regions.