ITALIANS, Spaniards and Greeks are forsaking their homelands and heading over the Alps to Germany and Switzerland, as economies contract throughout the Mediterranean.
In Greece, the unemployment rate is 26.4pc, the highest in the eurozone, with youth unemployment at 58pc.
Spain has the eurozone's second highest rate of unemployment with 26.3pc of people out of work, while Cyprus's relatively modest rate of 14pc is expected to rise sharply after the contraction of its financial sector – a condition of the country receiving a massive bailout by international creditors.
In Italy, figures released this week showed nearly six million people without jobs out of a population of around 60 million.
Italy's employers' organisation warned that the country has lost a full percentage point of GDP in less than two months thanks to the political paralysis after inconclusive elections in February.
Grazia Bonsignore (46), a translator and teacher, moved with her husband from Rome to Zurich two years ago in search of more secure contracts and better-paid work. "No matter how much we both worked in Rome, the money was never enough," she said.
"We now earn enough money to cover the rent, expenses, insurance and holidays, and the quality of life is a lot higher."
The number of Italians emigrating, including highly qualified graduates and professionals, rose 30pc between 2011 and 2012, from 60,000 to 79,000, according to figures published last week.
There was a particularly sharp increase in the number of Italians aged 20 to 40 who are forging new lives abroad.
The most popular destination was Germany, followed by Switzerland, Britain and then France.
Spain is witnessing the same phenomenon, with figures showing that the number of Spaniards moving abroad rose by 114,000 last year – 6pc more than the year before.
The most dramatic brain-drain has taken place in Greece. A recent study by the University of Thessaloniki found that more than 120,000 professionals, including engineers, doctors and scientists, have left the country since the start of its economic crisis three years ago. (© Daily Telegraph, London)