Conditions of entry and residency of third-party nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment.
The Council held a policy debate on two key aspects of the Commission proposal: the criteria to be adopted for third-country nationals concerned to be able to have access to highly qualified employment and the relationship between the arrangements set out in the proposal and national systems.
The Council was largely in favour of complementary application of the European Blue Card scheme and national arrangements for issuing residence permits for employment purposes.
On the question of the criteria to be adopted in order for nationals of countries concerned to be admitted, the delegations expressed different points of view, particularly on the question of pay and the professional experience to be taken into account when defining a highly qualified worker.
The Council asked its preparatory bodies to continue working on this proposal for a Directive.
The purpose of this proposal, presented by the Commission in October 2007, is to improve the European Union’s ability to attract third-country nationals for the purpose of highly qualified employment. It aims not only to strengthen competitiveness under the Lisbon strategy, but also to limit the brain drain with regard to nationals of non-European countries. To this end, it aims to facilitate the admission of these nationals by harmonising conditions of entry and residence in the European Union, to simplify admission procedures and improve the legal status of those already present on the territory of the Member States.
Third-country nationals who satisfy the conditions laid down in the Directive may acquire a Blue Card, enabling them and members of their family to enter and stay in a Member State and to leave it, and to transit through the other Member States and have access to the labour market in the sector concerned. Furthermore, they will be able to enjoy equal treatment with nationals in a vast range of areas.
The proposal also aims to facilitate the mobility of holders of the Blue Card within the Union. After a period of residence and work in the Member State concerned, they will be able to go to another Member State to engage in highly qualified employment (subject to limits fixed by the authorities of that State concerning the number of nationals who may be admitted). The procedure is the same as that relating to admission to the first Member State.
The proposal for a Directive is one of the priorities on the French Presidency work programme.