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Brussels, 13 July 2010

European Commission proposes common entry and residence conditions for third-country seasonal workers

The European Commission has today presented a proposal for a directive on seasonal employment. The proposal aims at establishing a common procedure for entry and residence in the EU and defines the rights of seasonal workers from third-countries.

"Employers in the EU are increasingly dependent on people from countries outside of Europe to take up jobs in sectors such as agriculture, horticulture and tourism, as fewer and fewer EU citizens are available for this type of seasonal work. At the same time, we need to provide these seasonal workers, who are often vulnerable and exposed, with better conditions and a secure legal status in order to protect them from exploitation. This new directive will do just that, and I am confident that today's proposal will contribute to an effective management of migration flows for seasonal migration", said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs.

The proposed directive concerns non-EU citizens coming to an EU Member State for the purposes of seasonal employment on EU territory. The work will be carried out during one or more fixed-term work contracts concluded directly between the non-EU worker and the employer established in a Member State.

The proposal introduces a special procedure for the entry and residence of third-country seasonal workers and defines their rights while at the same time providing incentives for circular migration to prevent a temporary stay from becoming permanent.

In particular, the proposal:

  • establishes a simpler entry procedure for the admission of non-EU seasonal workers based on common definitions and criteria, such as the existence of a work contract or a binding job offer that specifies a salary;

  • sets a standard seasonal work time limit throughout the EU (6 months per calendar year);

  • provides for a multi-seasonal permit for three years or a facilitated re-entry procedure in subsequent seasons;

  • defines legal provisions applicable to working conditions of seasonal workers;

  • entitles seasonal workers to equal treatment with nationals of the Member States in determined fields (freedom of association and affiliation, social security schemes, income-related acquired statutory pensions, access to goods and services, etc);

  • leaves EU Member States free to apply a labour market test and to decide how many seasonal workers they admit; the proposal does not create a right to admission.


The proposal is part of a comprehensive package of measures, proposed in the Policy Plan on Legal Migration of 2005 and further endorsed by the Stockholm Programme, adopted by the European Council in December 2009. The European Union faces a structural need for seasonal work due to the fact that EU labour within this field is expected to become less and less available. The development of a well-organised legal immigration policy will therefore continue to play an important role in filling labour shortages and responding to the future demographic challenges of the Union.

For more information

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:

Justice and Home Affairs Newsroom:


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