Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment

Author (Corporate)
Series Details COM (2016) 378
Publication Date 07/06/2016
Content Type , ,


Legislative initiative tabled by the European Commission on 7 June 2016, setting out a reform of Directive 2009/50/EC - also known as the Blue Card Directive.

Further information:

Directive 2009/50/EC sets out the entry and residence conditions for highly-qualified non-EU nationals wishing to work in a highly-qualified job in a Member State of the European Union (EU), and for their families. This Directive excludes Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom (UK). The Directive also creates an EU Blue Card system.

An assessment of the existing Directive demonstrated a set of weaknesses preventing it from fully fulfilling its aim, such as restrictive admissions conditions and limited facilitation of intra-EU mobility. It added to the existence of many different sets of parallel rules, conditions and procedures for admitting the same category of highly skilled which apply across EU Member States. These elements limited the EU's Blue Card attractiveness and usage.

The European Agenda on Migration announced the review of the Directive, as part of a new policy on legal migration. This was also stated in the European Commission's Work Programme for 2016. The 2016 Communication on the CEAS reform calls for the development of safe and legal pathways to EU territory. The revision of the EU Blue Card Directive was also addressed by the European Parliament.

The draft law was tabled on 7 June 2016, aimed at replacing the existing Directive and improving the EU's ability to attract and retain highly skilled third-country nationals. It also aimed at enhancing their mobility and circulation between jobs in different Member States. The proposal was published alongside an Action Plan on the integration of third country nationals. The European Parliament's relevant committee adopted a negotiating position on 15 June 2017. The Council of the European Union adopted a general approach on 26 July. Trilogue negotiations stalled for a number of years thereafter. The 2020 New Pact on Migration and Asylum urged co-legislators to successfully conclude the negotiations on this draft Directive, given the importance of this file. An informal agreement on a compromise text for the draft law was eventually reached on 17 May 2021. This was formally endorsed by the Parliament on 15 September, followed by the Council on 7 October.

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Commentary and Analysis
EurActiv: Opinion, 08/06/2016: EU Blue Card reform ‘counter-intuitive but necessary’
EU Migration Law Blog, 12/07/2016: A New Blue Card Scheme? The Commission’s proposal for highly skilled migration into the EU
EU Law Analysis, 20/07/2016: The new Blue Card proposal: Will it attract more highly skilled workers to the EU?
EPRS: Briefing, September 2016: The New EU Blue Card Directive - Initial Appraisal of a European Commission Impact Assessment
EUObserver: Opinion, 27/07/2020: Time to revive Juncker's EU 'Blue Card' scheme
Statewatch: News, 03/12/2020: EU: 'Blue Card' rules on migration for highly-skilled employment: Council seeking "common ground" with the Parliament
Odysseus Network: Migration Law Blog, 04/06/2021: The revised Blue Card Directive: the EU’s search for more highly skilled non-EU migrants
EPRS: Briefing, July 2021: Revision of the Blue Card Directive
Heinrich Böll Foundation: Analysis, 28/07/2021: And yet it moves: monitoring the debate on the New EU Pact on Migration and Asylum
EPRS: At a Glance, September 2021: The EU Blue Card Directive

The Guardian, 07/06/2016: EU to loosen work permits to try to boost skilled worker numbers
EUObserver, 07/06/2016: EU to ease access for skilled migrants
EurActiv, 07/06/2016: EU plans migrant work permit relaunch, funding for Africa
EurActiv, 08/06/2016: Europe’s tech industry could get boost from visa overhaul
EUObserver, 27/04/2018: Berlin's fear of AfD slams brake on EU legal migration reform
Delano, 31/05/2021: Immigration: Blue card work permits fell 32% in 2020
Euronews, 15/09/2021: MEPs approve strengthened measures to attract highly skilled non-EU workers Access to the comments
EurActiv, 16/09/2021: EU sweetens its Blue Card for foreign professionals
The Sofia Globe, 16/09/2021: European Parliament approves reform of EU Blue Card rules for highly qualified immigrants
The Brussels Times, 16/09/2021: New rules for highly qualified immigrants who want to work in Europe
EUObserver, 04/10/2021: Hungary only EU state against bill to attract skilled migrants

EUR-LEX: SWD(2016)193: Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal - Impact assessment
EUR-LEX: SWD(2016)194: Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal - Executive summary of the impact assessment
European Parliament: Legislative Observatory: Procedure File for Proposal on Blue Card Directive (2016/0176(COD))
European Parliament: Legislative Train Schedule: Revision of the Blue Card Directive
European Commission: DG Migration and Home Affairs: The EU Blue Card
European Commission: EU Immigration Portal: Blue Card
European Commission: Press Release, 07/06/2016: Delivering the European Agenda on Migration: Commission presents Action Plan on Integration and reforms 'Blue Card' scheme for highly skilled workers from outside the EU
European Commission: Memo, 07/06/2016: Questions and Answers: An improved EU Blue Card scheme and the Action Plan on Integration
European Commission: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos on the occasion of the Commission presenting the Action Plan on Integration and the reform of the Blue Card scheme (7 June 2016)
European Parliament: Press Release, 07/06/2016: Migration debate on review of the “blue card” and EU action plan on integration
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 26/07/2017: Legal migration: Council agrees mandate on new rules to make the EU attractive for highly qualified workers
European Commission: Press Release, 17/05/2021: EU Blue Card: Commission welcomes political agreement on new rules for highly skilled migrant workers
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 17/05/2021: Legal migration: Council presidency and European Parliament reach provisional agreement on scheme to attract highly qualified workers
European Parliament: Press Release, 17/05/2021: Agreement on an improved EU admission system for highly qualified workers
European Parliament: Headlines, 08/09/2021: EU Blue Card: new rules to attract more highly-skilled workers
EPP Group: Newsroom, 14/09/2021: Attracting highly-skilled workers to the EU
European Parliament: Press Release, 15/09/2021: New EU Blue Card rules for highly qualified immigrants wishing to work in Europe
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 07/10/2021: Legal migration: Council adopts blue card directive to attract highly-qualified workers

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