The European Commission has proposed to make it easier for highly-skilled migrants to access Europe’s job market as part of its response to the migrant crisis.
The idea is to revive the so-called Blue Card scheme.
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The scheme was adopted in 2009 on the model of the US work permit, the green card, in order to help fill gaps in the EU’s ageing workforce but was never widely used.
“If we want to compete with the US Green Card, we need an EU Blue Card that deserves the same merit,” Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU migration commissioner, said in Brussels on Tuesday (7 June).
EU nations granted fewer than 14,000 Blue Cards last year. Germany, which also took in more than 1 million asylum seekers in 2015, issued the most permits.
Avramopoulos envisaged an EU-wide scheme for the card to replace parallel, often competing national systems.
It is designed to make more jobs available by lowering the minimum salary that employers must offer and by having the minimum length of the contract from 12 months to six.
Blue Card holders would have quicker access to long-term residence status, while family members could join hold the card holders more easily.
In other perks, card holders would also have more freedom to move between those EU states that sign up to the system.
The Commission estimated that the scheme would add between €1.4 billion to €6.2 billion to annual EU growth.
Member States would still be responsible for deciding how many workers they admitted from outside the EU. The UK, Ireland and Denmark would not take part.
The scheme would also be extended to refugees with proven professional qualifications.
The EU executive said last November that the estimated arrival of some 3 million migrants to Europe in 2015-2017 would boost the EU economy but only if the can enter the labour market.