From the mid-1950s, the need to ensure the survival of his regime led General Franco to choose the path of economic liberalization and modernization for Spain. A group of technocrats was charged with orchestrating this economic reform. The opening of borders to exchanges favored the export of labor force too. At the end of the 1950s, Spanish migrants, who had always preferred Latin American destinations, began to turn towards Western Europe.
This chapter showcases how Spanish inter-European mobility became an important political issue in the process of Spanish liberalization and modernization. Firstly, it could tone down the negative effects of government economic and stabilization projects, notably the rapid increase of unemployment. Secondly, remittances sent by migrants would finance Spanish development. Thirdly, emigration into Europe would enable Spanish immigrants to acquire professional qualifications that would benefit Spain on their return. Finally, a massive departure of Spaniards would create an opportunity for dialogue and negotiations, on demands concerning Spanish labor, with Western European countries which had an increasing need of the same.