Permits Foundation alerts against a labour market test for family members ahead of new Blue Card negotiations
22 September 2017
Last week, negotiations began between the EU Commission, Council and Parliament on entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment. Representatives from these three institutions are meeting regularly to discuss revising the Blue Card Directive, as there has not been enough uptake of the scheme since its adoption in 2009. There is broad recognition that the EU needs to become more attractive to highly skilled employees in order to remain globally competitive. These EU law makers plan to improve the Blue Card scheme to help make the EU a preferred destination for talent. Permits Foundation has therefore been in contact with them during the legislative process to highlight the important issue of family access to employment.
Family access to work
EU institutions agree that favourable conditions for family reunification and access to work for spouses should be a fundamental element of this Directive in order to facilitate the attraction of highly skilled workers. However, in contrast to the 2009 scheme (and the current provisions for intra corporate transfers), the latest Commission proposal has introduced the possibility of a Member State labour market check for family members. This test is something that the Foundation strongly opposes.
In contacting the negotiators, we argue that “the introduction of a labour market check, even as a ‘may’ clause, would run contrary to the objective of fostering competitiveness and growth in the EU. It would act as a deterrent for those considering an assignment and impact disproportionately on women, who make up the majority of accompanying partners, and thereby also on gender diversity in the workforce. It would also impact on businesses and Member States, creating more uncertainty, complexity and administrative cost”.
A positive development is that the European Parliament Home Affairs Committee recently voted to remove any reference to a labour market test for family members from the proposed Directive. In the upcoming negotiations, Permits Foundation urge Council and Commission to find common ground with the Parliament by deleting this clause from the final text.
The Foundation has written to key EU representatives, alerting them to our concerns. We will meet negotiators during this crucial phase before legislation is adopted and we encourage our networks to raise this issue in any contact that they may have on legal migration with the EU institutions.
For more information on why this is such an important issue for governments, companies, highly-skilled employees and their families, read our letter to Claude Moraes MEP, lead negotiator for the European Parliament.