The Council of the European Union has adopted a directive that establishes the entry and residence conditions for highly skilled and qualified non-European nationals who plan to live and work in the EU.

Through the blue card directive, which was officially adopted yesterday, October 7, the EU aims to attract as well as retain qualified workers, in particular those that are needed in the sectors that are facing skills shortages.

“To stimulate our economic growth and make the most of our green and digital transformation, we need to be able to attract the best talent. The blue card will consolidate the EU’s position as a top global destination for highly-qualified workers, with the flexibility, mobility and family reunification opportunities it provides,” the Minister of Interior of Slovenia Aleš Hojs said, commenting on the adoption of the blue card directive.

The new rules on the EU Blue Card, which will replace the existing one, aim to harmonise the residence and entry conditions for highly skilled and qualified workers as well as increase its attractiveness.

In particular, the newly adopted rules establish more inclusive admission criteria, facilitate family reunification and intra-EU mobility, grant a high level of access to the labour maker, simplify the procedures for recognised workers, and extend the scope to include non-EU family members of EU citizens and beneficiaries of international protection.

As such, it has been emphasised that to attract highly qualified workers and to promote and reinforce the EU Blue Card scheme, Member States should strengthen their information campaign and advertising activities that are directed at third countries.

Moreover, according to a press release issued by the Council, in parallel with the EU Blue Card scheme, the Member States will be able to maintain national schemes. Nonetheless, it has been noted that the rules will introduce several previsions to make sure that Blue Card holders and their families are not at a disadvantage compared to national permits holders.

The new rules on the EU blue card have already been amended on 15th September, but they still had to be officially adopted in order for the applicants to benefit from them.

The adopted rules are expected to enter into force 20 days after their publication in the Official Journal. After that, the Member States will have two years to implement the necessary laws to comply with the directive.

The EU Blue Card directive has been in place since 2009 and defines the residence and entry conditions that a third-country national must meet to take up employment in one of the Member States. However, due to the old rules, the scheme did not attract enough workers.

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