Ministers come out against EU 'blue card' proposal

24th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

24 October 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Plans to introduce a European "blue card" to allow young professionals from abroad to live and work in the European Union came under fire from German government ministers Wednesday, although business generally welcomed the idea.

24 October 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Plans to introduce a European "blue card" to allow young professionals from abroad to live and work in the European Union came under fire from German government ministers Wednesday, although business generally welcomed the idea.

Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan said EU countries would decide individually on their own rules for admitting skilled workers.

The German government believed that the education and training of German residents should have priority, she told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.

The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) welcomed the idea put forward in Brussels on Tuesday by European Commission Vice- President Franco Frattini.

"The blue card initiative provides a good impulse in the German debate on simpler immigration rules better suited to the economy," it said.

The Association of German Machine Tool Manufacturers (VDMA) said its members had 9,000 unfilled positions, while the traditional engineering firm Siemens said it had 3,500 full-time vacancies to fill.

Economics Minister Michael Glos and Labour Minister Franz Muentefering, who is also Chancellor Angela Merkel's deputy, have rejected the EU plans.

Glos has pointed to a decision taken by the cabinet in August to ease restrictions on admitting workers from the new EU members in Eastern Europe. This measure takes effect on November 1.

Muentefering criticized Frattini's plans as long ago as September, saying the matter was "not a European Commission issue but for national parliaments and governments."

The blue card put forward by Frattini and endorsed by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso would allow skilled workers from abroad to work in the EU and to bring their families with them.

Where most older EU members have now largely opened their borders to residents from the Eastern European countries that joined the 27- member bloc in 2004, Germany is retaining restrictions until 2009 and may extend them for a further two years.

DPA

Subject: German news

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