In a recent column I wrote about the EU Blue Card, a status offering mobility within the EU. It is intended to attract and retain the highly skilled workers for the purpose of highly qualified employment and thus to strengthen the economic growth within the EU.
So far, the EU Blue Card has only been successful in a small number of Member States (particularly in Germany), simply due to the fact that there are wide (restrictive) variations between the Members States allowing conditions and procedures at national level to limit the use of the Blue Card procedure.
On June 7th 2016, the European Commission presented the EU Integration Action Plan establishing a revised Blue Card scheme, making it more attractive for non-EU nationals to come and work in the EU.
The action plan proposes a single EU-wide scheme replacing procedures at national level. It will lower the salary threshold (presently the Blue Card Directive allows for at least 1,5 times the average salary in the Member State) allowing Member States to adjust their salary thresholds to their own labour market situation and simultaneously making it favourable for graduates and workers in areas with a labour shortage to apply for the Blue Card.
Whereas the current Dutch national scheme allows for a labour test to investigate whether there are prioritised workers in the EU able to fulfil the function, the revised Blue Card holder will be given immediate and more flexible labour market access, will be able to move easier to another Member State to work, it allows for self-employment and family members may apply simultaneously for the Blue Card. Faster access to the EU long-term residence status will be facilitated.
Intra-EU mobility will furthermore be stimulated as the Blue Card holder will be able to carry out short term business trips without having to obtain extra work authorisation.
This action plan is a welcome proposal as it will certainly improve the attractiveness of the EU labour market.