A Europe not producing enough home-grown skilled labour is looking at future incentives. The European Union is planning a “blue card” to lure highly skilled migrants. This would include offering financial and housing benefits, and cutting red tape through a fast-track procedure to get work permits.
The proposed scheme unveiled by the European Commission would be the EU’s answer to the US “green card” system for the best-qualified migrants. Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said: “In a space of freedom of circulation, it makes no sense to have 27 policies of immigration. It is absurd, because someone who comes to one of our countries can afterwards have a freedom of circulation, so it is much wiser, much more rational to have a common approach.”
The idea put forward by Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini has its critics. Euro-MP Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, with the European United and Nordic Left group, argues the proposal is simplistic: “Till now, we have had a really one-sided policy of separation. Mr. Frattini wants to open that up, partially with his Blue Card, but he is targeting skilled workers too much. I believe this will not work.”
To qualify for a blue card, a migrant would need an EU job contract of at least one year guaranteeing a salary of double to three times the minimum wage in the country concerned plus health insurance, the draft text shows. The scheme needs the 27 EU member states’ approval but several have already said they are against it.