EU to make it easier to recruit employees from 3rd countries
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To address labour market shortages, the European Commission is working on proposals to update its legal and operational immigration policies for people from third countries. While the EU wants to make skilled worker immigration from third countries easier, it has also proposed new provisions on penalties against employers in case of violations of working conditions.
“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,” said Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson.
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 the 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 The permit should also not be withdrawn in the event of unemployment for at least 3 months;
- New provisions on penalties against employers in case of violations of working conditions, freedom of association and access to social security benefits and 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 enhancing the rights of residents and their family members, including the right 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 the different countries. Periods of residence under temporary and national protection, and as students should also be counted;
- Countries 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;
EU Talent Pool from 2023 – pilot version for Ukrainian refugees to be launched earlier
The commission has also proposed to step-up operational cooperation at the EU level between the member states as well as with partner countries to match the labour market and skills needs of countries.
An EU-wide platform and matching tool called EU Talent Pool is also among the plans, 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.
While the recruitment of long-term caregivers in third countries is particularly urgent for the commission, European transport associations are lobbying for more straightforward rules to recognise Ukrainian driver licences and certificates. As we have earlier reported, both Germany and Sweden have already asked the EU to change the current regulations and make the employment of qualified Ukrainian drivers easier and faster.
So far, however, no details have been published on this matter.