2021/10/11

Attract Non-EU Highly-Skilled Workers | Blue Card Directive

Joana de Sá writes about the European Union Blue Card Directive, that defines the residence and entry conditions that a third-country national must meet to take up employment in one of the Member States.

Attracting highly qualified immigrants to Europe has been one of the EU's key priorities for several years. However, up until now the EU has not been as successful as other OECD countries. This demand for workers is expected to increase due to the growing shortage of certain skills and the aging of the EU's population. With the pandemic crisis and the new models of work (remote and digital work), these regulations became even more relevant.

The EU Blue Card directive has been in place since 2009 and defines the residence and entry conditions that a third-country national must meet to take up employment in one of the Member States. However, due to the previous rules, it did not attract enough workers.

Thus, during its past September plenary session, EU Parliament was due to vote at first reading on the final text resulting from interinstitutional negotiations. The Council of the European Union has adopted a directive that establishes the entry and residence conditions for highly skilled and qualified non-European nationals who plan to live and work in the EU | the “new” blue card directive.

Through the blue card directive, which was officially adopted on last October 7, the EU aims to attract as well as retain qualified workers, in particular those that are needed in the sectors that are facing skills shortages.

The new rules on the EU Blue Card, which will replace the existing one, aim to harmonise the residence and entry conditions for highly skilled and qualified workers as well as increase its attractiveness.

In particular, the newly adopted rules establish more inclusive admission criteria, facilitate family reunification and intra-EU mobility, grant a high level of access to the labour market, simplify the procedures for recognised workers, and extend the scope to include non-EU family members of EU citizens and beneficiaries of international protection.

As such, it has been emphasised that to attract highly qualified workers and to promote and reinforce the EU Blue Card scheme, Member States should strengthen their information campaign and advertising activities that are directed at third countries.

Moreover, according to a press release issued by the Council, in parallel with the EU Blue Card scheme, the Member States will be able to maintain national programs. Nonetheless, it has been noted that the rules will introduce several provisions to make sure that Blue Card holders and their families are not at a disadvantage compared to national permits holders.

The new rules on the EU Blue Card have already been amended on September 15, but they still have to be officially adopted in order for the applicants to benefit from them.

The adopted text will enter into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal, and the member states will then have two years to bring into force the necessary laws to comply with this directive.

Joana de Sá | Partner | joana.sa@pra.pt