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EU agrees on the “Blue Card”

EU envoys gathered in Brussel to re-discuss the "Blue Card.

22 October 2008. European Union representatives agreed on a fast-track "Blue Card" scheme to attract high skilled migrant workers from developing countries in a bid to compete with the U.S. Green Card.

The "Blue Card", which takes its name from the EU flag and whose name resonates with the US "green card", would entitle highly qualified third-country nationals to a series of rights in any EU nation.

The EU wants to make the bloc more competitive in a battle with the United States for technology workers and hospital staff from the developing world, increasingly needed to plug labour gaps.

Foreign high-skilled workers make up just 1.72 percent of migrant workers in the EU, compared with 9.9 percent in Australia, 7.3 percent in Canada and 3.2 percent in the United States, EU data shows.

Analysts say the Blue Card scheme will not be enough to lure top-end staff and compete with the U.S. Green Card because it offers access to only one EU state at a time, not free mobility within the European single market.

After 18 months of working with a Blue Card in one EU state, an immigrant would be allowed to move with his family to work in another EU state, but he or she would still have to apply for a new Blue Card there within a month of arrival.

This provision was required by countries such as Germany, determined to maintain national sovereignty over their labour market.

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