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European Commission - Press release

'Blue Card' – Work permits for highly qualified migrants 6 Member States fail to comply with the rules

Brussels, 27 October 2011 – By not complying with EU rules, a number of Member States are making it too hard for highly skilled people to come to the EU for work. Today, the Commission formally requested 6 Member States comply with the rules of the Blue Card Directive, whose deadline for implementation expired on 19 June 2011. Germany, Italy, Malta, Poland, Portugal and Sweden have not yet transposed EU rules for highly qualified migration into national law. The Commission therefore decided to issue reasoned opinions (under Article 258 TFEU) requesting these Member States to take action.

Despite being in the midst of an economic crisis with high levels of unemployment, employers often cannot find the highly qualified workers they need1. The EU Blue Card Directive puts in place common and efficient rules that allow highly skilled people from outside Europe to come and work in our labour markets where there is a need. The Directive establishes a fast-track admission procedure for these foreigners and ensures a common set of social and economic rights (equal to those of EU nationals) in a number of areas.

If the EU is to reach the goals of sustainable and inclusive growth, based on research and innovation, Europe needs to attract more talent. This is why it is crucial that all Member States apply these common rules and foster a comprehensive and balanced EU migration policy.

On 18 July 2011, the Commission sent letters of formal notice (the first step of the infringement procedure) to Germany, Italy, Malta, Poland, Portugal and Sweden concerning their failure to notify the Commission of measures taken to implement the Directive.

Three of them (Italy, Malta and Portugal) have still not signalled any such measures within the set deadline (two months), prompting the Commission to act.

The three others (Germany, Poland and Sweden) replied to the letters of formal notice but indicated that new implementing legislation would not enter into force until next year. The Commission decided to send reasoned opinions to these Member States as well.


The Blue Card Directive (Directive 2009/50/EC) was adopted on 25 May 2009 and Member Sates had until 19 June 2011 to transpose its provisions into national law. All EU Member States except Denmark, the UK and Ireland are bound by the Directive.

The EU Blue Card scheme helps attracting highly qualified migrants to Europe, supporting Member States' and EU companies' efforts to fill gaps in their labour markets that cannot be filled by their own nationals, other EU nationals or legally resident non-EU nationals. It provides a common and simplified procedure applicable in the EU Member States bound by the Directive and ensures that potential migrants know what they need to do, whichever Member State they are planning to go to, rather than having to face 24 different systems.

Once a Member State grants a Blue Card to a migrant, that person can then benefit from free access to highly qualified employment positions in that Member State and can also move to another EU Member State where their skills may be needed. Coupled with preferential rules for acquiring long term resident status and for family reunification, the Blue Card scheme presents an attractive package to potential highly qualified migrants.

It is a demand-driven instrument which does not grant a right of admission and respects the competences of the Member States to determine the volume of labour immigrants entering their territory for the purpose of highly qualified employment.

The Blue Card Directive is one building block of a comprehensive and balanced EU migration policy, which has a role to play not only in filling shortages in the national labour markets but also in helping to face demographic challenges.

The Directive does not prevent Member States from having their own system of national residence permits for highly skilled migrants, but such national permits cannot grant the right of residence in other EU Member States that is guaranteed under the Blue Card Directive.

For more information


Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs

Homepage DG Home Affairs:

Infringement procedures for Home Affairs policy areas

Contacts :

Michele Cercone (+32 2 298 09 63)

Tove Ernst (+32 2 298 67 64)

1 :

Member States report labour and skills shortages in a number of areas, according to the European Migration Network's (EMN) 2011 Study on "Satisfying Labour Demand through Migration"

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