This paper discusses the operation of recently introduced circular migration schemes between Spain and thirdcountries and the impact of the recession. Circular migration has been seen as a way to offer legal workopportunities to migrants from third countries and as such, help to discourage the illegal and informal movementof workers. The introduction of these schemes coincides with a steep fall in illegal migration, but much of this isdue to the recession, more effective border controls and diplomatic agreements with neighbouring states. Thepaper demonstrates that whilst these schemes have proved popular and do offer real opportunities they havetended to be highly restrictive, working best for married women with families, who have no viable option but toreturn home. Will such schemes offer a robust solution to surges in illegal migration once the European economyrecovers?
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