The European Union Council of Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs slated to meet on November 27-28 in Bru ssels is expected to rubber stamp the Blue Card, a fast-track work visa, a decision made at the ambassadors’ level. “As the decision was agreed at the ambassadors’ level, it’s not yet official but we do not foresee any further debates and the decision will be ratified by the EU ministers next month,” an EU official said. France holds the rotating EU Presidency for the second half of 2008 till the end of December. In addition, the EU leaders en dorsed an EU immigration package and put on hold the restart of frozen trade and partnership talks with Russia.
With major countries like Germany and United Kingdom pushing for competition to get the best talents, the EU states significantly weakened the Commission’s original plans by insisting that it is up to national governments to decide how many migrants should enter their countries and what qualifications they should have. With a fast track application process along with making it easier for workers to bring families along and get housing the Blue Card, with validity of four years falls way short of original proposal.
Moreover, the Blue Card would only be issued under strict income conditions, with migrants expected to be earning at least one- and-ahalf times the gross national average wage. The Blue Card, a brain child of European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, was designed to be on par with Green Card system of the USA, the final version has lost much of its shine according to EU sources in Brussels.
Barroso had told journalists on September 29 in Marseille, France after the EU-India Summit: “We have made a proposal precisely to make it easier for qualified professionals to come to Europe because we want to remain open and in fact we want more people coming to Europe namely some migrants, qualified migrants and sometimes we find it’s difficult for them to come so we made a proposal and that proposal is being negotiated by the Council of member states and I think the final outcome will be a good one.”
Addressing a joint press conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and current EU Presidency holder French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Barroso had said, “I think it will a good outcome, a balanced proposals especially for the Indians to come to Europe and cooperate inside our member states.”
Asked to comment on the diluting of his proposals, Barroso told journalists, “of course sometimes we want more ambitious results but this is the way we work in the EU we have to understand we are 27 countries so at the end it has to be a compromise between all the countries because thats very much linked to their national sovereignty.”
Commenting on the upcoming proposals, Umesh Shenoy, an Indian software consultant working in Brussels, Belgium said, “Blue Card will greatly alleviate the problem of restrictive movement for non- EU employees within the EU countries. Hopefully will bring stability to otherwise chaotic procedure that comes with applying for work permit and residence cards. This will be useful for Multinational institutions which require workforce to be mobile and It is a win-win situation for both employer and employees alike in the longer term.”
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