On 7 June 2016, the European Commission presented a proposal to revamp the European Union (EU) Blue Card scheme, aiming to improve the EU’s ability to attract and retain highly skilled workers, following a public consultation on the existing scheme carried out in 2015. The proposal was launched alongside an Action Plan to support Member States in the integration of third-country nationals
The proposed new version of the Blue Card scheme will have more flexible and inclusive qualifying criteria, standardized procedures across the EU, faster processing and enhanced benefits.
The existing Blue Card scheme, adopted in 2009 and implemented in most EU Member States over the last 7 years, entitles the holder to live and work in an EU Member State for up to four years (United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland have opted out of the scheme).
However, the European Commission admits that restrictive qualifying criteria and the existence of parallel procedures for highly skilled workers in various Member States has limited the success of the Blue Card. According to the latest available data, fewer than 14,000 Blue Cards were issued EU-wide in 2014, the vast majority of them by Germany. Only 31% of highly-educated migrants currently residing in OECD countries chose the EU as their destination, while more than half (57%) are in North America.
What are the Proposed Changes?
The proposed changes include:
Flexible and inclusive criteria
Faster and less restrictive procedures
The proposal (including any amendments introduced in the coming months) will now have to be debated and approved by both the European Council and the European Parliament. Once the directive is adopted, it is proposed that the EU Member States will have two years to implement measures to fulfill the directive.