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European Parliament: Improved conditions for non-EU movers?

On 25 February 2014 the European Parliament voted on the first reading of draft legislation proposed by the Commission in March 2013, which calls for a facilitated entry and residence of third-country students, researchers, trainees, volunteers and au pairs in the EU. 

The aim of the legislation is to make the EU more attractive to highly qualified groups of non-EU citizens in order to “boost economic growth, promote innovation, create more jobs in the long term and make our member states more competitive", said rapporteur Cecilia Wikström. In terms of investment in R&D, the EU is lagging behind the US and Japan, spending respectively 0.8% and 1.5% less of its GDP than the two countries. Complicated and costly bureaucratic procedures, unclear regulations and exclusive labour market are some of the reasons why the world’s ‘best and brightest’ may pass by the EU in search of suitable academic and professional opportunities elsewhere. 

Below are some of the measures proposed in the document:

  • Additional residing period: After finishing their research or studies, third-country nationals (including their family members) should be entitled to stay in the member state where they studied or did their research for a period of 18 months in order to seek work or set up a firm. 
  • Reasonable fees: In case a member state requires the payment of fees for handling applications, these fees should be reasonable and if the applicant pays the fee, s/he should be reimbursed by the host entity (university, training institution, etc.).
  • Intra-EU mobility: Researchers, students and trainees would have the right to move to other EU countries and carry out their activities there for up to six months. Intra-EU mobility provisions would be strengthened for researchers and students, with particularly more favourable rules to beneficiaries of EU programmes including Erasmus Mundus or Marie Curie, it is said in the document. 

The draft legislation was approved with 578 votes to 79 against and 21 abstentions, demonstrating significant support to addressing one of the main discouragements to many talented non-EU citizens in the EU. The next Parliament, to be elected in May, will take over the proposal and decide whether to continue along the same lines or start from scratch. Nevertheless, the legislation should enter into force as of 2016. 


Press release EC proposal 2013/0081 (COD)