EU reaches draft deal to facilitate entry of high-skilled workers

European Commissioner for Promoting the European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas. [EPA-EFE/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / POOL]

The European Union on Monday (17 May) reached a provisional agreement that could make it easier for highly skilled workers from outside the EU to live and work in the 27-country bloc.

The draft deal between the European Parliament and the Council, which is acting on behalf of member states, is designed to update the existing Blue Card work permit system that was introduced in 2009.

Divided Parliament approves EU Blue Card system

Despite divisions among political groups, the European Parliament yesterday backed the EU’s ‘Blue Card’ scheme aimed at attracting high-skilled immigrants to Europe.

It would see the required salary threshold lowered and the minimum duration of a work contract reduced. The recognition of professional skills in the IT sector would be facilitated.

The EU’s executive Commission welcomed the draft deal.

“Today’s agreement gives the EU a modern, targeted legal migration scheme that will allow us to respond to skills shortages and make it easier for highly skilled professionals to join our workforce,” Commission Vice-President for Promoting the European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas said.

The Commission has been aiming to reform the Blue Card scheme since 2016, arguing the hurdles for the admission of workers were too high.

EU Blue Card reform 'counter-intuitive but necessary'

Europe risks being left behind in the race for talent and the development of a knowledge economy and has failed to compete with other OECD destinations. EU policy needs to be more flexible and knock down the barriers to recruitment of the highly qualified, writes Jonathan Chaloff.

Both sides still need to confirm their deal by adopting the new Blue Card scheme. Member states will then have two years to implement the measures into national law.

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