The representatives of the Council presidency and the European Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on a proposed directive, known as a Blue Card Directive, that establishes the entry and residence requirements and conditions for highly qualified non-EU nationals wishing to live and work in the EU.
The EU-wide admission system intends to attract and retain workers who are highly qualified, especially those in sectors that are currently facing skills shortages, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“The green and digital transformation of our economies will only succeed if we have a workforce with the necessary skills to lead it. Education and lifelong training will play a key part in this, but we must also make sure that we are equipped to compete in the global search for talent,” Minister for Home Affairs of Portugal Eduardo Cabrita said.
The new scheme, the rules of which are to replace the existing ones, will introduce the following changes:
- Flexible conditions: To qualify for the EU Blue Card, the salary threshold will be reduced between one and 1.6 times from the average gross annual salary in the respective Member State, making it more accessible, especially for recent graduates and professions in need of workers. The duration of a contract of employment will be reduced to six months.
- Skills and qualifications equivalency: The new rules will enable professional skills recognition for occupations in the communication technologies and information sector. Applicants who have professional experience equivalent to a higher education qualification will also be able to apply.
- Possibilities to change employer or position: During the first year, the holders of the EU Blue Card are required only to complete a new test of the labour market if they wish to change employer or job position. Only after this period, cardholders may be required to notify the relevant authorities regarding a change in their situation.
- Intra-EU mobility: In line with the simplified mobility rules, the holders of the EU Blue Card and their family members will be permitted to move to a second Member State after 12 months have passed since the employment in the first Member State. The period of time a cardholder spends working in different Member States will be taken into account, facilitating access to the EU long term resident status.
- Highly skilled beneficiaries of international protection: Will also be eligible to apply for the EU Blue Card.
“Migrant workers already make an important contribution to the EU’s economy. But our shrinking, ageing society means we must continue to attract skills and talent from abroad,” Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said, welcoming the agreement.
Nonetheless, the EU Parliament and the Council still need to confirm the agreement by adopting the EU Blue Card Directive. Once the directive is adopted, the Member States will have two years to transfer the rules into national law.