RIGA - During the two-year period from March 2021 to September 2023, 1,842 persons have returned to Latvia with the support of remigration coordinators, according to the plan for work with the diaspora for 2024-2026 prepared by the Foreign Ministry and submitted for inter-ministerial coordination.
The draft plan stresses that specific support measures are needed to encourage remigration. One of these is the support provided by the regional remigration coordinators. This support measure has been implemented by the Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry and planning regions since March 2018.
Through the regional remigration coordinators, potential remigrants can receive advice on issues related to their return to a specific region and municipality. The Foreign Ministry explains that the regional approach allows for the preparation of personalized offers on employment and education opportunities, place of residence, social services in a given municipality, according to the needs and interests of the returnee.
The draft plan concludes that economic considerations - job or business opportunities - are one of the most important issues in the case of remigration. The latest remigration study identifies the areas that are most important for people wishing to return to Latvia, including employment opportunities with adequate remuneration, information on employment opportunities, support programs for entrepreneurship, starting a personal business.
Also important for people wishing to return to Latvia is support from the local government in finding or securing accommodation, information on reconciling foreign and Latvian social security services, and a support person to deal with issues related to returning to Latvia.
The ministry explained that access to information on jobs, employment or entrepreneurship, and the coordination of social systems is particularly important for people wishing to return to Latvia. Therefore, the regional remigration support measures also include business and employment support.
Of all the returnees to Latvia between March 2021 and September 2023, 74.4 percent were aged between 25 and 64. Young families with pre-school and school-age children often choose to return to Latvia for their children's education, which accounts for the high proportion of children and 25-34 year-olds in the remigrant population.
The draft plan emphasises that one of the most pressing issues for people returning to Latvia is the availability of information on state and local government support for families with children - 19.4 percent of respondents to the study "Living and working opportunities in regions as facilitating factors for external and internal remigration" point this out.
However, the Latvian language skills of children who have returned to Latvia after living abroad are often not sufficient to enable them to integrate into Latvian educational institutions. In order to help these children and their families to learn Latvian more quickly, the Latvian Language Agency has developed a methodology and recommendations for school teachers. Adults are also offered the opportunity to learn Latvian - language training courses are being implemented under the supervision of the Society Integration Fund (SIF) to facilitate the integration of returnees and their family members in Latvia.
The MFA notes that in the 2024-2026 plan, given the demographic challenges, especially in Latvia's regions, support for remigration is an important contribution to the country's further development, and it is therefore essential to provide as much information support and individual advice as possible on employment, housing, education and other issues related to remigration.
At the same time, the coordinator is also a support person who helps compatriots abroad to remotely assess the advantages for a well-considered decision, as well as to prepare for a successful return to Latvia. Consequently, the support activities related to the network of regional remigration coordinators will continue to be implemented over the next three years.
At least 1,500 personalized offers to remigrants are to be prepared annually, and at least 1,750 persons are to be returned to Latvia with the support of the coordinators between 2024 and 2026. More than EUR 220,000 per year are earmarked for the regional remigration coordinators and support measures related to their activities.
The draft plan stresses that the business environment in the regions plays a crucial role in regional development, as it provides employment opportunities and thus prosperity for the population, stimulating people to stay in their places of residence or creating favorable conditions for the process of remigration.
Given the shortage of human resources in the regions, it is essential to develop support instruments that directly target the attraction of human resources to the regions. In the case of emigration, economic considerations - well-paid jobs and business opportunities, as well as access to information about them - are particularly important. Therefore, the regional measures to support remigration also include support for entrepreneurship and employment.
The total planned funding from the national budget is EUR 400,000, or EUR 80,000 per planning region per year. The national budget funding is planned to be co-financed through municipal business support competitions, thus attracting additional municipal funding and private co-financing and achieving a wider impact for the activity.
Support is provided to entrepreneurs for the development of new products or services, ensuring the prerequisites for remigration in the regions. The support is expected to result in at least 50 new businesses or jobs created by returnees to support their return.
To ensure the successful integration of children of remigrants into the Latvian education system, online Latvian language training courses are being implemented under the supervision of the SIF to facilitate the integration of both adult remigrants and their family members and children into Latvian society. It is planned to train 150 persons each year, with funding of up to EUR 34,000 per year.
According to the Foreign Ministry, the Latvian Language Agency has provided various remigration support measures within its competence and budgetary possibilities: courses, master classes and experience exchange events for Latvian educators working with children from remigrant families. However, due to budget constraints, it has not been possible to organize more extensive events. The planned annual think-tank will bring together researchers, academics, parents of remigrants, Latvian educators, local authorities and representatives of support institutions in various workshops and discussions.