Rui Pena Pires, scientific coordinator of the Emigration Observatory (OE), a research centre of ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon, was speaking at the online conference "Portuguese Emigration in the 21st Century", organised by OE.

In his speech, he pointed out that the return of immigrants to Portugal represents, on average, half or more of the entries of foreigners.

According to Rui Pena Pires, this situation also happens in Eastern European countries, with equally negative migratory balances, such as Portugal, where more citizens leave (emigrants) than enter (immigrants).

According to the latest Emigration Report, in 2019 around 80,000 Portuguese will have left Portugal, a number similar to the previous year and slightly lower than the 85,000 who left in 2017.

In that year, the United Kingdom was the country to which most Portuguese emigrated: around 25,000. This was followed by Spain and Switzerland.

Rui Pena Pires noted that we are currently witnessing Portuguese emigration at various speeds, with a more marked decrease in traditional destination countries, such as the United States of America, Canada, Brazil or Venezuela.

In these countries, he said, we are witnessing an ageing of the emigrant population born in Portugal.

In France, Germany or Luxembourg, there is also an aging of Portuguese emigration, accompanied by a deceleration of entries of Portuguese-born, unlike the United Kingdom and Norway, two destinations increasingly sought by Portuguese, particularly the most qualified.

In this regard, Rui Pena Pires said that the percentage of Portuguese emigrants with degrees is equal to that which exists in Portugal.

But the level of qualification is much lower in destinations traditionally sought by the Portuguese, such as France or Germany.

He exemplified this with data from France, where the Portuguese are the emigrants in greater numbers, but with fewer qualifications, among the 30 nationalities assessed.

To France - the country in the world with the largest number of Portuguese emigrants, due to the great wave of emigration in the 1960/70s - in 2019 about 8,000 Portuguese emigrated, followed by Germany, with 5,785.