Legal migration: Council agrees mandate on new rules to make the EU attractive for highly qualified workers
Veronica Huertas Cerdeira
Press officer (Home affairs; Counter-terrorism coordination)
On 26 July, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) agreed on a mandate for negotiations on a draft directive covering entry and residence conditions for highly qualified workers coming from third countries (blue card directive). Based on this mandate, the Council presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament.
"The purpose of the Blue Card is to attract highly qualified workers to Europe. The number of specialists and economic transformers in the world is limited and the competition for them is strong. Making them choose Europe will strengthen our competitiveness and contribute to economic growth", said Andres Anvelt, minister of interior of Estonia, which currently holds the Council presidency. "A common European residence and work permit that will facilitate and make conditions more flexible is necessary if we want to compete with the American green card or the Canadian point system”, minister Anvelt added.
The reform of the blue card directive aims at making it more attractive for highly qualified workers from third countries to come to work in the EU. It will also aim to improve their mobility between jobs in different member states. It would replace the existing blue card directive, harmonising further conditions of entry and residence and improving the situation of highly qualified workers by the following means:
- providing more inclusive admission criteria, including by reducing the salary threshold that member states can set for the admission of third-country nationals and establishing that member states may apply a lower minimum salary rule also to recent graduates, as well as by reducing the minimum length of the work contract to six months
- making the procedures faster, in particular by introducing the possibility to apply simplified procedures for recognised employers
- establishing that member states may allow EU blue card holders to engage in parallel in self-employed activities or professional activities other than their main activity
- facilitating intra-EU mobility, including by reducing the minimum period of legal residence in the first member state
- extending its scope to include non-EU family members of EU citizens and in certain cases, also beneficiaries of international protection
The European Commission presented the proposal for a new blue card directive in June 2016 as part of the EU's efforts to develop a comprehensive migration policy, including in the area of legal migration.