Legal migration: Council presidency and European Parliament reach provisional agreement on a scheme to attract highly qualified workers
The Council presidency and European Parliament deputies reached a temporary agreement on a draft directive establishing the entry and residence conditions for highly qualified non-EU nationals arriving to live and work in the EU (the blue card directive). This EU-wide admission policy strives to bring and retain highly qualified workers, especially in sectors facing skills shortages.
“The green and digital transformation of our economies will only succeed if we have a workforce with the necessary skills to lead it. Education and lifelong training will play a key part in this, but we must also make sure that we are equipped to compete in the global talent search. The revised rules for the EU blue card provide an EU-level scheme that allows more flexibility, improved conditions and simplified mobility, placing the EU firmly among the top destinations for highly qualified workers.”
Eduardo Cabrita, Minister for Home Affairs of Portugal
The new rules, which will replace the current ones, further harmonise the conditions of entry and residence for highly qualified workers and improve the attractiveness of the EU blue card, in particular by:
- securing more inclusive admission criteria, including by reducing the salary threshold for admission, allowing for lower salary thresholds for recent graduates or professions in need of workers, decreasing the minimum length of the work contract to six months, and extending the field to include highly skilled workers from the information and communication technology (ICT) sector;
- facilitating intra-EU mobility, including by reducing the minimum period of residence in the first member state, simplifying and speeding up the procedure for exercising mobility and allowing for the accumulation of periods of residence under different schemes to acquire long-term resident status;
- facilitating family reunification and giving the spouse or partner of the blue card holder unrestricted access to the labour market;
- simplifying procedures for recognised employers;
- granting a very high level of access to the labour market, in particular by establishing that member states may allow EU blue card holders to engage in self-employed activities or other subsidiary professional activities, as well as offering protection, particularly in the case of unemployment;
- extending the scope to include non-EU family members of EU citizens and beneficiaries of international protection.
EU member states will maintain national schemes aimed at highly qualified workers in parallel with the EU blue card scheme. However, the new rules will introduce several provisions to ensure a level playing field so that EU blue cardholders and their families are not at a disadvantage compared to holders of national permits.
The provisional political agreement is subject to approval by the Council and the European Parliament before going through the formal adoption procedure.