EU Blue Card: competing with the US Green Card?

EU Blue Card: competing with the US Green Card?

22nd September 2009, Comments 0 comments

The EU must compete with the likes of the US to attract and retain highly qualified third-country workers. So how does the new EU Blue Card compare with the US Green Card?

On 25 May, the Council of the European Union adopted the Blue Card Directive, aimed at establishing more attractive conditions for third-country workers to take up highly qualified employment in the EU, by creating a fast-track procedure for issuing a special residence and work permit: the ‘EU Blue Card’.

The Blue Card—similar to the Green Card of the Unied States—is intended to facilitate the holder’s access to the EU labour market and entitle them to a series of socio-economic rights and favourable conditions for family reunification and movement across the EU. The ultimate goal is to attract and retain highly qualified third-country workers, for whom the EU must compete with the likes of Australia, Canada and the US, which alone attracts roughly twice as many skilled workers, according to AFP.


EU Blue card compared to US Green card


Permanent residency: Blue Card does not give permanent residency; Green Card gives holder permanent residency.
Validity: Blue Card valid up to four years, renewable; Green Card valid for 10 years, renewable.
Permissions: Blue Card allows holders and families to live, work and travel in participating EU states; Green Card allows holder to live, work and travel in the US.
Application criteria: Blue Card applicant must have one-year EU work contract with salary of three times minimum wage; Green Card applicants apply via several channels, including employment, family links, investment. and a lottery.

While the EU Blue Card does not give permanent residency, holders are intended to enjoy equal treatment with nationals of the member state issuing the Blue Card, as regards:

  • working conditions, including pay and dismissal;
  • freedom of association;
  • education, training and recognition of qualifications;
  • a number of provisions in national law regarding social security and pensions;
  • access to goods and services, including procedures for obtaining housing, information and counselling services and
  • free access to the entire territory of the member state concerned within the limits provided for by national law.

Moreover, while the Blue Card directive defines common criteria for the member states which have signed up for the scheme to set for Blue Card applicants, these criteria are not intended to overrule any exisitng national legislation concerning the admittance of migrant workers, which may be more attractive than those set down in the Blue Card directive. For instance, each member will retain its autonomy to maintain and introduce new national residence permits for any purpose of employment, and its autonomy to determine how many third-country workers are admitted.

The 24 member states who have signed up for the Blue Card Directive have two years—till 19 June 2011—to transpose the directive into national law. Only time will tell whether the Blue Card will be successful in drawing highly skilled workers to Europe, over traditionally more popular destinations like the US.

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