EU interior ministers discuss "Blue Card" proposal

8th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

8 November 2007, Brussels (dpa) - European Union interior ministers met in Brussels on Thursday to discuss plans for an "EU Blue Card" designed to lure skilled workers from Asia and Africa in order to fill labour shortages in the wealthiest members of the 27-member bloc. This is the first time that national governments come together to debate the initiative, which was first proposed by EU Commissioner Franco Frattini several months ago and which was adopted by the EU's executive on 23 October. Frattini's p

8 November 2007

Brussels (dpa) - European Union interior ministers met in Brussels on Thursday to discuss plans for an "EU Blue Card" designed to lure skilled workers from Asia and Africa in order to fill labour shortages in the wealthiest members of the 27-member bloc.

This is the first time that national governments come together to debate the initiative, which was first proposed by EU Commissioner Franco Frattini several months ago and which was adopted by the EU's executive on 23 October.

Frattini's proposal involves granting third-country professionals who agree to relocate to the EU similar benefits to those currently enjoyed by their European colleagues.

Candidates would be able to apply for a single work and residency permit, valid for a minimum of two years, and accepted throughout the union. Foreign white-collar workers would also be allowed to be joined by their families in their new country of residency.

According to Commission data, non-EU professionals make up just 1.72 per cent of the EU's total employment population, about half the rate in the United States and nearly a sixth of the comparable rate in Australia.

The problem of labour shortages is particularly acute in wealthy countries like Denmark, where years of robust economic growth have pushed its unemployment rate to a 33-year-old low of just 3.1 per cent. Economists say Denmark desperately needs more workers in order to avoid an economic slowdown and higher inflation.

However, the EU plan has been criticised by anti-immigration political parties in many member states.

And in Germany, government officials point out that their country is already at pains to absorb workers arriving from the new member states countries in eastern Europe.

German Labour Minister Franz Muentefering said in late October that rules governing work and residency permits are a matter for "national parliaments and governments, not the European Commission".

Interior ministers meeting in Brussels were also expected to give the go-ahead to plans to extend the abolition of systematic checks at internal land and sea borders to nine new member states by Christmas, several days ahead of schedule.

The nine countries that are set to join the so-called Schengen free-movement area next month are: Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Passport control at airports in these nine countries are to remain in place until March 2008.

DPA

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article