Business immigration changes proposed in European migration agenda

18 May 15

EUROPEAN UNION

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The European Commission’s migration agenda, released last week in response to the Mediterranean refugee crisis, also contained proposals to review and expand the European Union Blue Card program for third-country economic migrants.

What does the change mean? The agenda recommends overhauling the Blue Card scheme to better attract talent to Europe by improving the opportunities for holders of the cards to move within the EU and increasing the number of Blue Cards issued.

The agenda also contemplates creation of a visa category for individuals providing short-term skilled services to businesses and government.

What the Migration Agenda said: As part of a multipronged effort to reduce illegal migration, the agenda also called for a new policy on legal migration. “The next step should be an attractive EU-wide scheme for highly qualified third-country nationals,” the agenda said. “By the end of May, the Commission will launch a public consultation on the future of the Blue Card Directive.”

The Commission noted that in the first two years of the Blue Card scheme, only 16,000 of the cards have been issued (13,000 by a single member state).

According to the agenda, the Blue Card scheme will be reviewed to find ways to “make it more effective in attracting talent to Europe” and to consider “issues of scope such as covering entrepreneurs who are willing to invest in Europe, or improving the possibilities for intra EU mobility for Blue Card holders.”

The agenda also pointed to the services sector as an area of important economic impact that will be under consideration. “The services sector includes well-trained, highly-skilled foreign professionals who need to travel to the EU for short periods in order to provide services to businesses or governments. The Commission will assess possible ways to provide legal certainty to these categories of people, also in order to strengthen the EU’s position to demand reciprocities when negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs),” the agenda said.

In furtherance of the agenda, the Commission will promote permanent dialogue and peer evaluation on issues where a decision by one member state impacts other members. The Commission will also seek input from business stakeholders, trade unions and other social partners.

BAL Analysis: While the proposed Blue Card changes may take months or years to implement, the agenda indicates a commitment to improve and perhaps broaden the scope of visas for economic migrants to better accommodate business demands. Initiatives to increase the number of Blue Cards and ease intra-EU mobility for card holders are of particular interest and BAL will be following these developments and updating clients accordingly.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact copyright@balglobal.com.