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European Commission presents a reform to the current EU Blue Card

The European Commission proposal  (2016/0176 (COD)) revamps the existing rules for the EU Blue Card and aims to improve the EU’s ability to attract and retain highly skilled third-country nationals. 

The European Commission has drafted this proposal because the current EU Blue Card scheme (Directive 2009/50/EC), adopted in 2009, has proven insufficient and unattractive so far. Restrictive admission conditions and the existence of parallel rules, conditions and procedures at national level have limited the use of the EU Blue Card. In order to develop the EU Blue Card into a truly EU-wide scheme, Member States are obliged to grant an EU Blue Card instead of a national permit for highly skilled work to persons falling under its scope.

The new EU Blue Card proposal:

  • As a distinction to the current EU Blue Card scheme, the new proposal does not allow Member States to have parallel national schemes targeting the same group of highly skilled workers. 
  • A lower general salary threshold, equivalent to or at the highest 1.4 times the average national salary.
  • The required minimum duration of the employment contract is brought down from 12 to 6 months.
  • EU Blue Card holders are allowed to exercise a self-employed activity in parallel with their Blue Card occupation.
  • Professional experience equivalent to qualifications higher education qualifications to be recognised by Member States.
  • Access to EU long-term residence after 3 years if the EU Blue Card holder resided continuously in the same Member State.
  • A lower salary threshold should also be laid down to benefit third-country nationals during a certain period after their graduation. 
  • Member States may offer a special fast-track procedure for trusted employers with fewer conditions to reduce administrative burden.
  • Short-term business trips will be less complicated for EU Blue Card holders.

Interesting links:

Press release European Commission: Delivering the European Agenda on Migration: Commission presents Action Plan on Integration and reforms ‘Blue Card’ scheme for highly skilled workers from outside the EU – IP/16/2014

Questions and Answers European Commission: An improved EU Blue Card scheme and the Action Plan on Integration – MEMO/16/2071

Factsheet European Commission: Revision of the EU Blue Card

Legislative proposal: Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purpose of highly skilled employment

New European Commission EU Blue Card website