On 7 June 2016, the EU Commission published a proposal for a Directive to regulate the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals who are highly-qualified and wish to work in the EU.


According to the Commission, the aim of the proposal is to achieve a new, comprehensive migration management policy, as well as to develop the EU Growth Strategy under the name “Europe 2020”. 


The EU Blue Card Directive (2009/50/EC) which is supposed to facilitate the recruitment of highly-qualified people from non-EU countries has not fulfilled its purpose and needs to be improved. (The “EU Blue Card” takes its name from the “USA Green Card”). An inflow of these type of people is necessary because there are already certain sectors, including the health care sector, which are struggling with “structural skills shortages”. Due to the fact that this shortage is acute and can potentially damage economic growth, it is important to act quickly. In addition, the gap between supply and demand for specialists cannot entirely be closed through training measures for EU citizens, at least not in the short term. The Directive for legal migration is necessary in order to ensure an internationally competitive labour market for highly-skilled workers. 


The proposal regulates the criteria that a third-country national must meet in order to obtain a Blue Card and thus a residence permit. The most important point is that the applicant must have a valid employment contract or a binding job offer of at least six months in the Member State where the person is making their application. Furthermore, it must be “highly skilled employment”. This refers to both higher education qualifications or higher professional skills, that is, a minimum of at least three years’ professional experience. Generally, the Blue Card is valid for 24 months or the duration of the employment contract plus three months if the contract is less than two years. It authorises entry and residency in the Member State in which the application has been approved.  


This Directive requires the consent of the Parliament and the Council. In the event that the Commission’s proposal is implemented, it is also important that the individual Member States have the right to determine the number of people to whom they wish to issue a Blue Card.