Labour shortages: MEPs simplify Blue Card rules for highly-qualified immigrants

Blue Card rules simplified to attract much-needed non-EU workers to alleviate labour shortages in key sectors

Highly-qualified non-EU nationals will get access to Europe’s labour market thanks to the EU Blue Card.

Although the Blue Card Directive has been in place since late 2009, MEPs adopted a reform of the EU Blue Card to facilitate the employment of highly qualified non-EU nationals and help alleviate labour shortages in key sectors.

The informal agreement with the Council was backed by the Parliament with 556 votes to 105 and 31 abstentions. It will now have to be approved by the Council and published in the Official Journal before it can enter into force. Member states will then have a two-year period to bring their national legislation in line with the directive.

The Blue Card law defines the conditions of entry and residence that third-country nationals and their family members must meet to take up highly qualified employment in the member states.

However, the scheme has not attracted enough of these much-needed workers, with only 36 806 Blue Cards issued in the EU in 2019 (and Germany issuing most of them).


The reforms offer less stringent criteria for applicants and employers: applicants must present a work contract or a binding job offer of a minimum of six months,as well as evidence of higher qualifications or professional skills. Currently, a 12-month contract or offer is required.

The salary threshold for applicants was reduced to at least 100% and not more than 160% of the average gross annual salary in the member state of employment, from the current 150% minimum with no upper limit.

Beneficiaries of international protection such as refugees will also be able to apply for an EU Blue Card in members states other than the one where they received asylum or another protection status.

Holders of an EU Blue Card will also be able to move to another member state after an initial 12-month period in the country that first granted them the Blue Card. They will benefit from being reunited with family members swiftly through faster reunification procedures and access to the labour market for accompanying family members.

“We must do everything we can to improve legal migration to Europe and, above all, facilitate the arrival of qualified workers who contribute to the development of our continent,” rapporteur Javier Moreno Sanchez (S&D), said.

“A more attractive and viable scheme adds real value to the existing national schemes. In the future, we intend to go further so that workers in medium and low-paid jobs can contribute to our society in the same beneficial way that Blue Card holders can now.”

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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