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Europe – EU warns Member States over “red tape facing highly qualified migrants”

28 February 2012

Three EU Member States –  Cyprus, Austria and Greece – “are still making it too difficult for highly skilled people to come and work in the EU,” the EU Commission said. Although the countries were warned in July 2011, they have so far failed to transpose the rules of the Blue Card Directive, which should have been implemented before 19 June 2011. The EU Commission has therefore issued “reasoned opinions” this week requesting Austria, Cyprus and Greece to bring their laws into line with EU legislation.

The EU Blue Card Directive puts in place rules that allow highly skilled people from outside Europe to work in the EU, “filling gaps that cannot be filled by EU nationals”, a press release states. Moreover, it ensures a common set of social and economic rights, such as equal treatment with nationals as regards working conditions and pay, as well as access to goods and services.

The EU Commission said that “if Europe is to secure economic prosperity, remain competitive and maintain its welfare systems, it needs immigrant workers. The current economic and financial crisis makes this need all the more pressing, while highlighting the need for common rules and a comprehensive and balanced EU migration policy.”

The announcement comes after the Commission also decided this week to end the proceedings against Malta, Romania and Luxembourg, which were late in implementing the Blue Card Directive, something that led the Commission to start legal proceedings against them. However, those three countries have now brought into force the national legislation necessary to apply the Directive.

The Blue Card Directive was adopted on 25 May 2009 and Member States had until 19 June 2011 to transpose its provisions into national law. All EU Member States except Denmark, the UK and Ireland are bound by the Directive, which aims to attract highly qualified migrants to Europe. After two years of possessing a Blue Card, migrant workers are then entitled to free access to highly qualified employment positions in that Member State and can also move to another EU country.

The EU says that the Blue Card Directive is “one building block of a comprehensive and balanced EU migration policy, which has a role to play not only in filling shortages in national labour markets but also in helping to face demographic challenges.”

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