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Brussels, 13 July 2010
Proposal for a Directive establishing common entry and residence conditions for third-country seasonal workers
In this Commission proposal, seasonal workers are defined as third-country nationals (non-EU citizens), coming to an EU Member State for the purposes of employment in a sector of activity dependent on the passing of the seasons (typically in agriculture, horticulture and tourism). Their work is regulated in one or more fixed-term work contracts concluded directly between the third-country national and the employer established in a Member State.
Outline of the proposal
The proposal establishes a fast-track procedure for the admission of third-country seasonal workers, based on a common definition and common criteria, in particular the existence of a work contract or a binding job offer that specifies a salary. This is vital in order to avoid an unfair advantage for employers and exploitative working conditions for seasonal workers.
Seasonal workers will be issued with a visa or a residence permit allowing them to work for a maximum period of six months in any calendar year. Such strict limitation of the duration of stay will contribute to ensuring that they are actually employed for work that is genuinely seasonal and not for regular work. The purpose of the limitation is also to prevent overstaying.
The proposal provides for a possible prolongation of the contract or a change of employer within the maximum duration of stay. This should help to reduce the risk of abuse that seasonal workers may face if tied to a single employer.
In order to prevent exploitation and protect the safety and health of third-country seasonal workers, legal provisions applying to working conditions are cleary defined.
Prospective employers are required to provide evidence that the seasonal worker will have appropriate accommodation during his/her stay. There is also a provision for facilitation of complaints.
The Directive introduces a multi-seasonal permit or a facilitated re-entry procedure for a subsequent season with the aim of encouraging legal migration for seasonal work. In addition it will promote circular migration of seasonal workers between the European Union and their home countries. This will allow reliable flows of remittances and transfer of skills and investment to third countries, thus reducing poverty and contributing to the European Union’s development policy.
The proposal does not create a right to admission, as it remains the right of the Member States to determine the numbers of seasonal workers to be admitted to their country. Following the principle of Union preference, a third-country worker should be admitted only if there is no EU worker or third-country national already residing in a Member State and enjoying access to the labour market of that Member State who is competent and willing to fill that specific vacancy.
There are no comprehensive and comparable data on seasonal workers in the EU, but according to estimates there are well above 100.000 third-country seasonal workers coming to the EU each year (including irregular migrants). Some Member States admit considerable numbers of non-EU seasonal workers. For example:
What happens next?
The proposal will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Member States, who must agree on the text before it becomes law.
For more information
Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:
Justice and Home Affairs Newsroom: