Monday

4th Mar 2024

'Blue card' to attract top talent from outside EU

As part of efforts to fulfil Europe's need for highly-qualified workers, Brussels is set to issue an EU-wide work permit allowing employment to non-Europeans, in any country within the 27-nation bloc, EU home affairs commissioner Franco Frattini said in an interview with EUobserver.

The idea of an EU work permit – dubbed the 'blue card' after the colour of the European Union flag – is to be formally tabled in September.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The EU blue card idea has been inspired by the US green card programme (Photo: Notat)

Mr Frattini hopes it will make Europe a more attractive work destination than the US, Canada or Australia and cut down on the severe labour shortages facing the bloc due to its aging population and declining birth rates.

"It is up to me - up to Europe - to promote and encourage highly-skilled migrants to come, if needed and where needed", Mr Frattini said. He added he would also suggest the "possibility of intra-EU movement" under certain conditions.

Under the plan, an Indian doctor working in a Belgian hospital, for example, would be allowed to move to another EU member state after an initial period of two years, if he found legal employment there. He could subsequently move to another member state after another year.

In addition, the card will enable a specialist to return to their home country and to re-enter EU territory after four or five years, without having to start all the administrative procedures from scratch.

Brussels believes this could prevent foreign immigrants from outstaying their welcome in Europe, as well as counter the devastating effect of "brain drain" from the world's developing countries.

"The blue card is not a permanent card like the American green card", the EU commissioner said.

The card "will make it possible to encourage highly-skilled workers to come and to avoid brain draining at the same time," he added.

Until now, migration has proved to be a highly sensitive issue within the bloc, but Mr Frattini believes there may be "broad consensus" among EU capitals, as they will maintain control over their labour markets.

"I am offering a simplified procedure, facilitating the access of people who are needed...but it is up to each member state to determine how many [non-European] experts they need", he said.

"While member states are particularly reluctant concerning low-skilled or seasonal workers, they are very keen to attract highly-skilled migrants – engineers, doctors, researchers", he concluded.

According to commission estimates, labour shortages will peak by 2050 when 25 million Europeans are expected to retire from work and one-third of the population will be over 65 years of age.

Analysis

Almost 20 names in running for EU top jobs

With four months until the European Parliament elections, there are already some 20 names in the hat for the ensuing reshuffle of EU top jobs.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

EU Commission clears Poland's access to up to €137bn EU funds

The European Commission has legally paved the way for Poland to access up to €137bn EU funds, following Donald Tusk's government's efforts to strengthen the independence of their judiciary and restore the rule of law in the country.

Latest News

  1. EU socialists fight battle on two fronts in election campaign
  2. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit
  3. 'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child
  4. Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact
  5. EU socialists set to anoint placeholder candidate
  6. Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?
  7. Deepfake dystopia — Russia's disinformation in Spain and Italy
  8. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us