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Luring high skilled labour: the Blue Card

Triggered by Europe’s persistent concern with its demographic future in respect to Lisbon Process objectives, the European Commission has officially adopted the the Directive on the admission of highly-qualified migrants to the EU (Blue Card Plan). They have also put forward a draft Directive establishing a single application procedure for a single residency and work permit and a common set of rights for third-country workers legally residing in the EU. The Blue Card proposal is to sponsor EU-wide legal immigration of  highly skilled workers, paricularly those who have already signed a work contract in EU with a promise of at least three times the minimum wage. Measures mentionned within the Directive are limitations to length of stay in one EU country (2 years with the option of then proceeding to a new EU country), and ethical recruitment standards (limiting ’brain drain’ from developing countries).

The plan has reaped controversy, particularly in Germany, where some politicians hold that Germany has enough of its own labourers who are out of work. Furthermore, health ministers in Africa warn the EU that the Blue Card scheme may cause increased brain drain and have been increasingly vocal about their critique. Ultimately,  the proposal will have relevance for our academic institutions and our academic labour markets.  It is, however, ironic to consider that as this Directive appears, 15 Member States have not yet implemented the Research Visa Directive, the procedure that allows third-country nationals into the EU for the purpose of carrying out scientific research.  The pressure is on to make these states adhere to the Directive.

Prioritisating foreign skilled labour is evolving as a policy across many EU countries. There are currently three million unfilled jobs in the EU and the need for 20 million new workers, skilled and non-skilled in the next 20 years.

Blue Card Press Release
Research Visa Directive