04 March 2008

EU plans to compete for highly-skilled immigration

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The European Union is proposing a new immigration scheme to encourage highly-skilled workers from other parts of the world to fill growing numbers of vacancies in key professions.

The idea of an EU-wide "blue card" scheme was first put forward by the European Commission in October 2007, and is currently being discussed by member states.

The EU is keen to ensure that it appeals to highly-skilled migrant workers as much as locations like the USA, Australia and New Zealand, to which it appears to be losing out in the hunt for the best people.

A blue card - so-called as a parallel of the American green card scheme - would make it simpler for highly-skilled workers to migrate to and work in European countries.It would also facilitate relocating their families and assist free movement throughout the EU.

However, the move would require unanimity from the EU's 27 member states, and as such no action is expected in the short term.

"It is difficult to predict how quickly the member states will agree on the content of the proposal, but taking into account previous experiences and the sharp division within the EU over such issues, this might take another two to three years to take off," an unnamed EU official told The Hindu newspaper.

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