Brussels, 27 April 2022
The Commission is today proposing an ambitious and sustainable legal migration policy. As part of the comprehensive approach to migration set out in the Pact on Migration and Asylum, the Commission is proposing legal, operational and policy initiatives that will benefit the EU’s economy, strengthen cooperation with non-EU countries and improve overall migration management in the long term. The set of proposals also includes specific actions to facilitate integration of those fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine into the EU’s labour market.
Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said:
- “Whilst our Member States are busy managing the arrival of over 5 million people from Ukraine, this does not preclude the need to lay the foundations of a sustainable and common approach to labour migration to address EU skills needs in the long term. With today’s initiatives we recognise that legal migration has a positive impact all round: it gives those who want to migrate an opportunity to improve their circumstances while providing more skilled workers for host countries, who in turn boost the economy for all.”
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said:
- “Annually, 2 to 3 million nationals from non-EU countries come to the EU legally, in contrast to 125,000 to 200,000 irregular arrivals. Legal migration is essential to our economic recovery, the digital and green transition and to creating safe channels to Europe, while reducing irregular migration. With today’s package, we are simplifying the application process for living and working in the EU and improving rights for residents and their family members. I am confident we are putting in place a solid way forward to attract new talent into the EU for today and tomorrow.”
An enhanced legislative framework
- A streamlined procedure for the single permit for combined work and residence will make the process quicker and easier for applicants and employers. It will allow applicants to lodge applications from both non-EU countries and EU Member States and will also enhance safeguards for equal treatment and protection from labour exploitation.
- The revision of the Long-term Residents Directive will make it easier to acquire the EU long-term residence status by simplifying the admission conditions, for instance by allowing the cumulation of residence periods in different Member States. In addition, the revision will enhance the rights of long-term residents and their family members, including improvements to family reunification and facilitated intra-EU mobility.
Better matching skills and labour market needs
The Commission is proposing to step-up operational cooperation at EU level between Member States as well as with partner countries. Work is already advanced with a number of key initiatives to match labour market and skills needs of Member States and partner countries. Following the launch of Talent Partnerships in June 2021, the Commission is now proposing a number of steps to operationalise them with the aim of agreeing on the first Talent Partnerships by the end of 2022.
The Commission is proposing to establish the first EU-wide platform and matching tool, an EU Talent Pool, to make the EU more attractive for non-EU nationals looking for opportunities and help employers find the talent they need. To address the urgent need to facilitate access to the labour market for new arrivals from Ukraine, the Commission is proposing a pilot initiative that should be up and running by summer 2022.
A forward-looking legal migration policy
Finally, the Commission is exploring further potential avenues for legal migration to the EU in the medium to longer term. The Commission sees the potential for focusing on forward-looking policies around three areas of action: care, youth and innovation. The aim will be to:
- Attract skills and talent in sectors where there are labour shortages and needs, for example in the long-term care sector;
- Create opportunities for young people to explore new countries, to benefit from work and travel; and
- Promote innovation entrepreneurship within the EU and invest in our European tech sovereignty.
Whilst Member States alone decide on the volumes of legal migrants they wish to admit, the EU can support them with practical and operational tools. Over the past two decades, the EU has developed a legal framework largely harmonising Member States’ conditions of entry and residence for non-EU nationals. An evaluation of this legal framework in 2019 underlined that more could be done to increase the impact of the EU legal migration framework on the EU’s demographic and migration challenges. After a wide public consultation and following two resolutions from the European Parliament in 2021, the Commission was asked to present a set of proposals to facilitate legal migration to the EU with the objective of reducing bureaucracy, strengthening harmonisation, promoting fundamental rights and equal treatment, and preventing labour exploitation.
For More Information
- Communication: Attracting Skills and Talent to the EU
- Revised Single Permit Directive
- Revised Long Term Residents Directive
- Pact on Migration and Asylum
Questions and Answers – Attracting skills and talent to the EU
27 April 2022
Why is the Commission proposing a legal migration package?
The Commission is today proposing a set of ‘Skills and Talent’ proposals to address current demographic and migration challenges in the EU and prepare for future needs. The proposals are a deliverable of the EU’s comprehensive approach under the Pact on Migration and Asylum. An ambitious and sustainable EU legal migration policy will help to attract talent our economies need and create safe channels to reach Europe, supporting the EU’s green and digital transition, while contributing to making European societies more cohesive and resilient. The proposals address a number of persisting challenges including: the recovery of EU’s economy after the COVID-19 pandemic; the EU’s labour market shortages; the need to support the labour market integration of people fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; and to accompany the EU’s transition to green and digital economy.
Why do we need to revise the Long-term Residents and Single Permit Directives?
To address labour market shortages and to ensure that the EU attracts the skills and talent it needs, an efficient legislative framework is required to improve legal migration to the EU.
The Long-Term Residents Directive and the Single Permit Directive set the framework in terms of procedures and rights for a large part of the non-EU workers legally residing in the EU. However, both pieces of legislation have not fully achieved the objectives for which they were first adopted, in 2003 and 2011 respectively. The Long-Term Residents Directive is under-used by the Member States and does not provide for an effective right to mobility within the EU. The Single Permit Directive has not fully achieved its objective of simplifying admission procedures for all workers from non-EU countries. For these reasons, the Commission is proposing an overall revision of the two Directives. The main objectives are to make procedures more efficient and quicker, strengthen the mobility within the EU of nationals of non-EU countries that are already residing and working in the EU, further integration and prevent labour exploitation.
What are the main legislative changes proposed in the skills and talent package that the Commission is presenting?
The Commission is proposing to update the Single Permit Directive to further streamline the application procedure for a combined work and residence permit and enhance safeguards for equal treatment and protection from labour exploitation.
The main changes to the Single Permit Directive include:
- An obligation for Member States to accept applications filed both in the Member State of destination and from a third country;
- The 4 month time limit for issuing a decision must also cover the issuing of the requisite entry visa and the time needed to conduct a labour market test;
- The right for the permit holder to change employer during the permit’s validity. The permit should also not be withdrawn in the event of unemployment for at least 3 months; and
- 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.
The Commission is also proposing to update the Long Term Residents Directive to make it easier to acquire the long-term residence status by simplifying the admission conditions and to enhance rights of residents and their family members, including the rights to move and work in another EU Member State.
The main changes to the Long Term Residents Directive include:
- The required 5-year period of residence can be cumulative in different Member States. Periods of residence under temporary and national protection, and as students should also be counted;
- Member States should put in place control mechanisms to monitor the actual residence of investors and ensure that this status is not abused.
- Improved right to family reunification without integration conditions, with full access to work for family members, and children of long-term residents born in the EU may acquire the status immediately; and
- Facilitated intra-EU mobility.
Why do we need legal migration?
Legal migration brings benefits to our society and the economy. It supports the recovery of EU’s economy after the COVID-19 pandemic; it addresses EU’s labour market shortages and it accompanies the EU’s transition to a green and digital economy. In the last decade, migrant workers accounted for a significant part of new jobs in the EU, helping to address labour market shortages. Such shortages increase the pressure on labour markets, undermining competitiveness and economic growth.
Migration and mobility are and will continue to be inherent features of humanity, globally and in the EU. On 1 January 2021, 23.7 million nationals from non-EU countries were residing in the EU, representing 5.3% of the total population. Irregular migration to the EU remains limited despite benefitting from widespread media coverage. Annually, approximately 2.25 to 3 million nationals from non-EU countries come to the EU using legal channels, in contrast to 125,000 to 200,000 irregular arrivals. Please see the Commission’s latest statistics on asylum and migration for more information.
Labour migration not only has an economic dimension, it also improves overall migration management as it helps strengthen our cooperation with countries of origin and transit, including by reducing irregular migration.
There is therefore a strong political and economic case for establishing more effective legal routes for migrants to enter Europe. This is, however, nuanced by the acknowledgement of the diverging situations and policies of the EU’s Member States. Legal migration is a shared competence between the European Union and its Member States. Member States alone decide on the number of nationals from non-EU countries coming to their territory in order to seek work.
Why is the Commission creating the EU Talent pilot project specifically for people fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
The Russian invasion of Ukraine created an immediate need to accommodate over 5 million people who have fled to the EU. The first-ever activation of the Temporary Protection Directive allows access to accommodation, schools, healthcare and jobs for Ukrainian nationals and their family members. This summer, in order to support successful integration in the labour market, the Commission will launch an EU Talent Pool pilot initiative. The EU-wide platform will help to map and match the skills and qualifications of beneficiaries of temporary protection with potential employers locally or in another EU Member State, taking into account the specific needs of the applicants.
What will be the difference between the EU Talent Pool and the EU Talent Pool pilot project?
Skilled nationals from outside of the EU who are interested in working in the EU will be able to register on a web platform and be admitted to the EU Talent Pool on the basis of specific skills levels or other relevant criteria. The Commission aims to formally launch the EU Talent Pool and its web portal by mid-2023.
The EU Talent Pool pilot initiative is being launched in response to the urgent need to accommodate those fleeing Ukraine’s invasion by Russia, in order to match them with potential employers across the EU and this way to facilitate their labour market integration in the EU. There will be no admission criteria and people can upload their profiles from within the EU. The aim is to set up the pilot initiative by summer 2022.
What kind of legal framework is the Commission’s proposal to launch the Talent pool in mid-2023 going to have?
By mid-2023 the Commission will adopt a recommendation establishing the Talent Pool, its charter and presenting a roadmap for the gradual development of its components. Establishing such a legal basis in the future could be set as an objective in the longer term.
How does the Commission intend to roll-out Talent Partnerships and with which non-EU countries?
Each Talent Partnership should be tailor-made on the basis of needs and interests of Member States and partner countries. In order to effectively roll-out Talent Partnerships, the Commission is proposing today to launch specific Talent Partnerships, taking into account the overall state of relations on all aspects of the comprehensive approach under the Pact on Migration and Asylum, as well as the Member States’ and partner countries’ interests in overall cooperation on labour mobility and talent development.
Once there is an overall agreement on the content, design and implementation of a Talent Partnership with a specific partner country, a combination of various financial instruments will mobilise funding. As a first step, following high-level discussions and strong and continuous cooperation on all aspects of migration management, including on irregular migration, the Commission has the intention to launch the first Talent Partnerships with North African partners, in particular Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt by the end of the year. The launch of Talent Partnerships with other partner countries in Africa and Asia will be considered in parallel, as part of a gradual approach.
With which other countries does the Commission envisage launching Talent Partnerships?
As part of a gradual approach, the launch of Talent Partnerships with other partner countries in Africa and Asia will be a natural next step in the process of strengthened cooperation on migration management. It is envisaged to start assessing the feasibility of launching Talent Partnerships with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Senegal and Nigeria, as one of the key components of a reinforced migration management cooperation with these countries.
What will be the purpose of the newly proposed labour migration platform?
Progress in the area of labour migration will depend on closer cooperation and a better understanding between the migration and the employment sectors. The Commission is therefore launching a new platform for labour migration, for exchanges with Member States’ experts from both these sectors, at the operational level, drawing on the experience of other stakeholders. The platform will enable technical discussion on practical issues of labour migration and labour shortages and it will also support the developments of Talent Partnerships and the EU Talent Pool.
Why do you focus on the long-term care sector?
As underlined by President von der Leyen in her 2021 State of the Union Speech, the care sector is a key area where the EU should do more to support men and women in finding the best care. Long-term care systems differ across the EU, but all countries face common challenges to provide accessible, affordable and high-quality care in the context of a growing demand for health and social care and staff shortages in an ageing population. Migrants form an important part of the long-term care workforce. In addition to its high societal importance, the long-term care sector has a large economic and job creation potential. The formal long-term care sector already employs about 6.3 million people, which represents around 3.2% of the EU’s entire workforce.
During the COVID-19 crisis, long-term care was identified as an essential service. However, limited investments in the sector and staff shortages contributed to significant challenges in ensuring continuity of care services and adequate response to the pandemic.
Member States struggle to attract and retain care workers. In the long-term care sector, up to 7 million job openings for healthcare associate professionals and personal care workers are expected to emerge by 2030. The Commission will therefore explore initiatives to help improve the admission of this essential category of workers, to benefit at the same time all Member States and countries of origin, while guaranteeing high ethical standards of recruitment.
Why is youth mobility important?
Giving young people a chance to live, work and acquire experience in another country can foster cultural exchanges and strengthen ties between countries, while also contributing to the economy. To this end, many countries in the world have developed Youth mobility schemes. An EU Youth Mobility Scheme could make the EU as a whole a more attractive destination for skilled young people from non-EU countries. At the same time, as these schemes are normally based on reciprocity, an EU youth mobility scheme would allow young Europeans to have more chances to travel and acquire experience in countries outside the EU. For these reasons, the Commission will explore the feasibility of developing an EU Youth Mobility Scheme, testing various options in particular for agreements with non-EU countries enabling reciprocity.
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