EU ‘Blue Card’ scheme could solve skills problem

25 Nov 2008

A European Union scheme modelled on the US Green Card system could take the pressure off economies suffering from skills shortages.

MEPs have voted 388 votes in favour, 56 against and 124 abstentions on a motion to clarify blue-card eligibility requirements.

Under the proposed guidelines, an applicant must have found a job in the EU, and have at least five years’ experience in the sector concerned or a university qualification recognised by the member state.

The applicant’s contract must guarantee an income of at least 1.7 times the average gross salary in the member state of residence, added the MEPs, who stipulated that this salary must not be lower than that of a comparable worker in the host country.

MEPs said it must also be possible to grant the card to third-country nationals already legally staying in the European Union under other regimes, but it should not be granted to asylum applicants or third-country nationals admitted to the European Union as seasonal workers, as the latter are covered by a specific proposal for a directive.

The MEPs have also decided that member states should also be able to decide how many blue cards they wish to grant each year.

One of the themes to arise has been the fear of encouraging a brain drain in third-world countries, particularly in the areas of health and education.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years