9th Mar 2021

Commission to propose EU green cards next year

  • "It is fundamental that Europe becomes first of all a real pole of attraction for highly skilled immigrants," says Mr Frattini (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission will next year come forward with a plan to introduce a European green card system to attract highly skilled immigrants as a part of the bloc's aim to achieve economic growth and compete with other western countries.

"It is fundamental that Europe becomes first of all a real pole of attraction for highly skilled immigrants," EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini told MEPs on Wednesday (27 September).

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"The idea of proposing a directive on the conditions of admission to the EU for highly skilled workers – including the possibility of an EU green card – responds to this economic necessity," he said, adding that the USA, Canada and Australia are able to attract talented migrants while Europe continues to receive low-skilled or unskilled labour.

He said the commission was looking into ways of making sure that such a scheme would not lead to a brain drain from developing countries.

The Commission has been pushing for a common approach to managing economic immigration, as an additional means to achieve EU objectives on economic growth and tackle the negative effects of ageing populations.

The EU executive is to present the proposal for a directive on an EU green card in the second half of 2007.

The word "green card" comes from the first version of the US resident card which was printed on green paper and which gives the holder permission to permanently reside and take employment in the US.

Illegal immigration

At the same time, Mr Frattini one again called on member states to show "solidarity" with Europe's growing problem of illegal immigrants arriving at the EU's southern borders.

"Solidarity, honourable members, means concretely helping member states under pressure," he said. "We need funds, we need equipment, boats, helicopters, airplanes."

More than 23,000 African migrants have been intercepted so far this year in the Spanish coastal areas alone, and the number for August itselft exceeds that for all of last year, according to the Spanish authorities. Meanwhile, hundreds of hopeful Africans are feared to have drowned trying to reach Europe.

But the commissioner noted a that common European policy on immigration must ensure that those who have entered a country illegally are taken back to their country of origin.

"Otherwise the impression will be given that you can break the law with impunity."

The continuing migration crisis on the southern shores of the EU is set to dominate an informal EU leaders meeting in the Finnish town of Lahti on 20 October.

Eight member states urge EU action on migration

The leaders of eight southern European states including France, Spain and Italy have raised the alarm over illegal immigration, sending a letter to the Finnish EU presidency pressing for "strong mobilisation" at EU level.

Barroso letter pleads for EU immigration 'solidarity'

Faced with overwhelming refugee numbers on Europe's southern borders and an obvious lack of resources to tackle the problem, the European Commission president has taken the unprecedented step of writing to governments to ask them to do more to help.

EU green cards in the pipeline

A European Commission proposal for an EU green card scheme is to be launched later this year, despite EU member states having different rules and regulations in their labour markets.


EU Commission 'surprised' by Belgian travel ban extension

The European Commission has expressed surprise over the Belgian government's decision to extend the ban on non-essential travel, stressing that "all options" are on the table to ensure free movement across the bloc.

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