13th May 2021

EU to overhaul 'Blue Card' work permit for migrants

  • The EU is keen to overhaul its "blue card" system to attract skilled migrants to come and work in the bloc. (Photo: Tax Credits)

The EU is keen to overhaul its "blue card" system to attract skilled migrants to come and work in the bloc amid fears of the long-term economic consequences of a population that is living longer and having fewer children.

"Europe's member states have a difficult period in front of them in terms of the jobs market. Europe's working population is going to decrease so [it] needs legal immigration," said EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday (13 May).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

  • Some 12,854 blue cards were issued in the EU in 2013, the vast majority by Germany (Photo: Paolo Margari)

The Blue Card system, granting special residency rights and a work permit, is designed to attract highly-skilled migrants to Europe. But the system - meant to be implemented in all member states by 2011 - has not had widespread take-up.

According to Eurostat figures, 12,854 Blue Cards were issued in the EU in 2013. Of these, the vast majority (11,580) were issued in Germany. France, as the next in the rankings, awarded 371 blue cards and Spain handed out 313.

Meanwhile, Sweden, Greece, Cyprus and Austria issued none while Belgium, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Finland handed out five each or fewer.

The commission has said it wants to "overhaul and modernise" the system, noting that Europe's economy is "increasingly dependent on high-skilled jobs" and migration is needed for "sustainable growth".

The Blue Card reform is part of a four-pronged migration strategy launched Wednesday (13 May) in response to a political and legal system that is ill-equipped to deal with the thousands of migrants trying to come to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.

The push for more "legal migration" comes as figures show that the EU's population is expected to peak at 526 million - up from the current 507 million - in 2050 and then start declining, reaching 523 million 10 years later.

By 2060, there is expected to be about two working-aged people for every person over 65, down from four at the moment.

While the UK is expected to be the most populous state (80 million) by 2060, and Belgium's population is set for a 40-percent increase, other countries are heading for a large population decrease, such as Lithuania with an almost 40-percent decline.

Age-related expenditure will account for 30 percent of GDP in countries such as Malta, the Netherlands and Slovenia and as much as 34 percent in Finland.

The commission is set to launch a public discussion on the Blue Card in the coming weeks but it has already indicated what kind of proposals it wants to make, including formalising a dialogue with business and industry to find out what kind of skills are needed and putting more money toward integration policies.

It also moots setting up an "expression of interest" platform which would use a set of criteria to "automatically make an initial selection of potential migrants".

A further step meant to help migrants is final agreement on updated rules to make remittance payments easier and more secure.

EU to ease access for skilled migrants

EU planning to revive its US-type scheme for admitting skilled workers from overseas, underlies that ageing EU societies need young foreigners.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

News in Brief

  1. No EUobserver newsletter on Friday 14 May
  2. Germany stops Facebook gathering WhatsApp data
  3. Italy rebuts reports of EU deal with Libya
  4. MEPs demand EU states protect women's reproductive rights
  5. At least nine dead in Russia school shooting
  6. Bulgaria interim government appointed until July election
  7. German priests defy pope to bless same-sex couples
  8. New EU public prosecutor faults Slovenia


Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU aims at 'zero pollution' in air, water and soil by 2050
  2. French police arrest Luxembourg former top spy
  3. Vaccine drives spur better-than-expected EU economic recovery
  4. Slovenia causing headaches for new EU anti-graft office
  5. 'No place to hide' in Gaza, as fighting escalates
  6. EU chases 90m AstraZeneca vaccines in fresh legal battle
  7. Fidesz MEP oversees FOI appeals on disgraced Fidesz MEP
  8. Belgium outlines summer Covid relaxation plans

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us