The rules – already agreed by member states’ governments – offer foreign workers the right to similar working conditions, pensions, social security and access to public services as EU citizens.
First proposed by the Commission in 2007, migrant workers will have a single application procedure for residency and work permits once member states transpose the single permit directive into national law, which they are required to do within two years.
One-stop shop for foreign workers
Member states will still retain the right to decide who can enter their territories, and to restrict the rights of specific foreign workers on an ad-hoc basis.
“I am very pleased that this directive has finally been adopted, as it will certainly simplify the life of migrants applying to reside and work in the EU," said Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for home affairs. "The directive will ensure a one-stop-shop system, thereby accelerating administrative procedures both for the future employer and the migrant.”
"This is an important step in facilitating legal migration," she said, "as well as in ensuring rights for migrants who are legally working and contributing to the cultural richness of our societies and the strength of our economy.”
During the parliamentary debate in Strasbourg, groups from across the political spectrum welcomed the directive - though some wanted the rules to go further.
Not far enough
French MEP Véronique Mathieu, rapporteur for the European People's Party, said the directive would enable Europe to deal with the shortage of labour, and facilitate checks and balances over migration. “It is much better to have legal migration and remove any kind of incentive to illegal or clandestine measures,” she told Parliament.
But Gerrman MEP Cornelia Ernst (European United Left/Nordic Greens) noted that the work on the new provision augured well at the beginning but ended lamentably. "This is by no means the gateway to a truly simplified scheme for third-country nationals wishing to work in an open EU,” she said.
A second-reading legislative agreement between the European Parliament and Council on the single permit will be deemed adopted following yesterday’s session of the European Parliament, as no amendments were tabled.
The single permit will apply to 24 countries, with the UK, Denmark and Ireland having negotiated opt-outs from the legislation.