If you sit down at the terrace of a “café branché” in Paris, you will hear people talk a lot about their “carte bleue”, their “blue card”. This magic word is simply the name French people gave to their Visa Card according to the colour it bears there…
But Europe is trying to give a little bit more of magic to the expression Blue Card. The European Blue Card was adopted by the European Council on the 25th May 2009. It aims to attract and retain high skilled workers from outside the European Union.
But there is still a long road to go before the first immigrants get this card since the Member States have two years to implement this legislation into their national law, till 19th of June 2011.
Let’s have a look on this Blue Card and the changes it will bring to the European labour markets.
So, the purpose of this new system is to fight against the shortage of highly qualified workers. The official definition of a “highly qualified worker” is a person who owns an university degree and three years of experience. So, doctors, engineers and ITC specialists will be heavily recruited among foreign students.
How will it work ?
So far, only 24 Member States have signed the agreement. Restrictions are still applied to workers from former communist countries in Germany, for instance, and some fear a massive immigration of highly educated competitors.
The purpose of this new procedure is to make stay in Europe much faster and easier. Theoretically, the applicant would enjoy equal treatment with nationals when it comes to “working conditions”, which, according to the conclusions of the European Council includes :
- “working conditions, including pay and dismissal;
- freedom of association;
- education, training and recognition of qualifications;
- a number of provisions of national law regarding social security and pensions;
- access to goods and services, including procedures for obtaining housing, information and counselling services;
- free access to the entire territory of the member state concerned within the limits provided for by national law.
After eighteen months of legal residence in the first member state as an EU Blue Card holder, the person concerned and his family members may move, under certain conditions, to a member state other than the first member state for the purpose of highly qualified employment.”
Criteria and conditions
The applicant must be offered a job in one of the participant Member States for at least one year.
The Blue Card is valid for one to four years. The worker can apply in any Member State, except Great Britain, Denmark and Ireland.
The candidate must lodge his application to the Blue Card in the Member States which he wants to work in. The authorities have to answer within 90 days of the application being lodged.
The gross monthly wage must not be inferior to a national level defined by the EU member states which shall be at least 1.5 times the gross monthly or annual average wages in the member state in question.
The worker and his family will be allowed to travel in the Schengen Space for up to three month.
Some critics already raise their voices, comparing the European Blue Card with the American Green Card. The latter allows permanent residence, while the European does not. The Green Card is valid 10 years renewable, the Blue one allows only a maximum of for years, renewable.
But it is true that the Blue Card will also provide some social rights and lets any Member State the freedom to elaborate a more generous national labour market regulation.