Brits fail the integration test

Which groups integrate the least into Spanish society: economic migrants from places like Africa and South America, or ‘climate refugees’ from the north of Europe looking for a relaxed lifestyle under the Spanish sun?

It’s a question being asked in the Spanish press following controversial plans, announced by the government of the Valencian Community, to force economic migrants to sign up to an ‘integration contract’, whilst not asking the same of Britons and other northen Europeans living in the region.

Under the proposed contract econmic immigrants have to promise to respect Valencian customs and traditions, which some wags says means drink driving, taking long siestas, and fiddling taxes.

Turns out that non-Spanish EU citizens living in Spain, of which there are 272,000 in the province of Alicante alone, are the least integrated of all.

British, German, French, Dutch, Nordic; these groups all have their own shops, social clubs, bars, and hire services from companies run by compatriots. They read newspapers from home, watch TV beamed in by satellite, and don’t speak much of the local lingo. According to a study by the University of Alicante, 75% of EU nationals, mainly British, choose to live in the Costa Blanca because you don’t need to speak any Spanish to get buy.

“They live apart,” says Tomás Mazón, a professor at the University of Alicante, speaking to the Spanish press. “They don’t speak Spanish, nor are they interested in doing so, they buy products from home in the supermarkets, they use the media from home, and belong to their own clubs. They are good people, and they don’t cause problems, but don’t ask them to participate, because they won’t.”

The Unversity of Alicante’s study reveals the following about the EU nations living in the province:

The British are the least likely to learn Spanish.
58% of Germans and 72% of British residents don’t have any Spanish friends.
25% of all Europeans in the survey report not needing any Spanish to live on the Costa Blanca.

In general, retirees integrate the least, whilst younger people do a better job of learning a bit of Spanish and making inroads into Spanish society.

Nobody is saying that economic migrants all integrate perfectly, because they don’t. But compared to Britons and other northen Europeans, they don’t do such a bad job. But there is no riks that Britons will be asked to sign an integration contract, and be forced to learn a bit more Spanish than ‘una cerveza por favor’.

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