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In April of this year, the EU published its proposal to amend existing legislation. This was seen as an important step to attract talent to the EU’s labour market.

The two changes were within, the Single Permit Directive and the Long Term Residence Directive.

A key point of focus was the Skills and Talent Package, which falls under the EU’s New Pact on Asylum and Migration. It includes a commitment by the EU to seek agreement on proposed changes to the EU Blue Card Directive, as well as a review of the EU Talent Pool, a policy measure intended to link workers outside the EU with employer needs in the EU.

All of which is planned to have a significant impact on how attractive the EU labour market is for talent outside the EU.

By revamping these key pieces of legislation, which encompass simplification of procedure, promoting mobility and harmonising across member states, the EU will make its market more attractive for high-, medium- and low-skilled talent across a range of sectors.

With the obvious challenges across the EU, it is likely that such changes will be welcomed by businesses and employers operating across the EU.

Single Permit Directive

Since being implemented in 2011, The Single Permit Directive ensured that individuals and employers applying for residence and work authorisation in a member state would be able to benefit from a more simplified and efficient process. The EU has now submitted proposals to ensure the process is more efficient

The main proposed changes are:

  • The possibility for individuals to apply from their home country outside the EU as well as in-country.
  • A 4 month maximum processing time
  • The possibility for the employee to change employer during the permit’s validity.
  • The possibility for the employee to keep the permit for at least another 3 months in the event of unemployment.
  • New provisions on penalties against employers in case of violations of working conditions, freedom of association and access to social security benefits and to introduce complaints mechanisms.

Shorter processing times and flexibility for the employee are surely welcome changes, although it remains to be seen whether EU member states will approve the proposals.

Long Term Residence Directive

Introduced in 2003, The EU’s Long Term Residence Directive ensured harmonisation of requirements and processes for issuance of long term residence status for non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals.

It also sets out the general conditions for holders of Long Term Residence status in one member state to apply for residence in another member state.

The original directive is considered somewhat limiting, given that most member states require individuals to pass civic integration and language tests in order to obtain Long Term Residence status and as a result the Directive is not widely used in member states that are still permitted to issue long term residence permits on national grounds, and does not promote intra-EU mobility effectively.

With the above in mind, The EU Commission has therefore submitted proposals for an amended Long Term Residence Directive.

The main proposed changes are:

  • Periods of residence in other member states will be able to be counted towards the cumulative 5 years required to obtain Long Term Residence status.
  • No labour market testing for persons with a Long Term Residence status in one member state who wish to reside and work in another member state.
  • No labour market testing for family members of Long Term Residence status holders in the member state where the main applicant holds that status.
  • Facilitated family reunification requirements, and family members of a Long Term Residence permit holder that were born in the member state of issuance automatically acquire Long Term Residence status.
  • Reduction of processing time from 4 months to 90 days.
  • Possibility to apply for Long Term Residence status in a member state other than where the status was issued after 3 years residence (instead of 5 years).
  • Permitted absence from the EU without losing Long Term Residence status increased from 1 year to 2 years.

If adopted by EU member states, it will provide additional grounds for intra-EU mobility for holders of Long Term Residence status.

It will also ensure potential applicants will not be limited in their movement within the EU due to a fear of losing accumulated.

However, civic integration and language requirements will still generally apply for applicants, which means that it is likely potential applicants will seek to stay within a particular language region, if not a particular member state, for a significant period of time before applying for Long Term Residence status.

EU Blue Card Directive

Introduced in May 2009, the EU Blue Card aimed to combat the talent shortages across the EU. Effectively the EU version of the US Green Card.

The purpose was to make it easier for non EU/EEA nationals to work freely in multiple EU member states within the European Union. However, studies over several years have shown that uptake and use of the EU Blue Card category is generally low across member states.

With the above in mind a planned revision was proposed in 2016 and launched in November 2021.

The aim of the updated Directive is to widen the scope and strengthen the rights of Blue Card holders, also simplifying the procedures and qualifying criteria

A selection of the most important changes are:

  • Facilitated possibility for EU Blue Card holders to undertake business activities in other member states.
  • Minimum duration of an employment contract shortened from 12 months to 6 months.
  • Currently Blue Card holders are allowed to move to another member state after a continuous stay of 18 months. This will be shortened to 12 months.
  • Recognition of professional experience in addition to or instead of educational qualifications.
  • Standard validity of the Blue Card to be increased from 12 months to 24 months, or the length of the contract plus three months.
  • Reduction of processing time from 90 days to 60 days (30 days for employers included in a national trusted employer scheme).

This information came from a blog post originally published here.

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