EU simplifies blue card rules: what will change? | Europe and Europeans: News and Analytics | >

Negotiators of the European Parliament and the EU Council reached a compromise on changing the rules for admitting highly qualified foreigners to the EU labor market, or the Blue Card system. The agreement was reached on the evening of May 17, the press services of the European Parliament, the EU Council and the European Commission reported.

It must now be approved by the EU Council and the European Parliament. If the updated directive on “blue cards” is adopted, the EU states will have two years to implement its norms into national legislation. > explains that there is a compromise on the Blue Card.

What is the EU Blue Card?

The Blue Card is a residence and work permit in one of the 25 EU member states (Denmark and Ireland are not part of the agreement) for highly qualified third-country nationals. High qualifications are understood primarily as having a higher university education. A number of EU states also issue a “blue card” to persons without a diploma if, for example, they have at least five years of experience in positions where higher education is needed.

This card provides certain advantages for its holders, in particular, it allows them to get a permanent residence permit faster. At the same time, the Blue Card is valid only in the country that issued it. In other EU states, it actually gives the same rights as a Schengen visa – it allows you to stay without the right to work for no more than 90 days every six months. The largest number of blue cards is issued by Germany. The top 10 recipients include citizens of Russia and Ukraine.

Getting an EU Blue Card will become easier

If the compromise solution is finally approved, it will become easier to obtain a Blue Card. Now one of the conditions is the salary offered to the applicant – it must be at least 150 percent of the average annual in the given country. This indicator is planned to be made more flexible: it will be possible to set it in the range from 100 to 160 percent.

IT specialists are especially needed in the EU

Another condition is the existence of either a contract or a legally binding job offer for a period of at least a year. The compromise calls for a reduction in the term to six months. It will also become easier to obtain a “blue card” for specialists in the field of IT-technologies.

Another simplification will affect self-employed persons – EU states will be able to issue them Blue Cards. Now they are provided only for employees.

It will be easier for Blue Card holders to move to another EU country

The current system allows family members of a Blue Card holder to apply for reunification. Now it is also planned to give unlimited access to the labor market to the spouse, wife or partner of the card holder.

It will also be easier for highly skilled workers to move to another EU country. Now this is possible only 18 months after receiving the Blue Card, and after moving, you need to receive the card again. The new rules will make it possible to change the country of residence after a year of working in it with a “blue card”.

EU wants to strengthen its appeal to talent from abroad

“We must ensure that we are able to be competitive in the global talent search. The updated blue card rules will place the EU among the top targets for highly skilled workers,” said Eduardo Cabrita, Interior Minister of Portugal, which is presiding over the Council of the European Union this six months.

“Migrant workers are already making an important contribution to the EU economy. But as our society ages and shrinks, we must continue to attract skilled workers and talents from abroad,” added European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ilva Johansson.

The system of “blue cards” was approved in the EU in 2009, it has been in effect since 2011. Five years after that, the European Commission proposed to change the rules. Since then, there have been negotiations between the European Parliament and the EU Council, culminating in a compromise solution.

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