European Union Blue Card Program To Entice Foreign Workers

An aging workforce is not a problem that the U.S. is alone in facing. Neither is a problem in attracting the best and the brightest. The European Union, too, is struggling with both of these situations.

"Over the last eight years, more than 10 million foreigners have immigrated to the European Union, plugging the gaps at the cheaper end of the labor market that an aging native population can no longer fill," according to a recent MSNBC article.

"By midcentury a third of all Europeans will be retired, and demographers predict the EU will need another 20 million workers to fill that gap by 2030. But in the contest to attract the best brains, Europe is falling far behind."

According to the article, just 1.7 percent of the working population of 290 is made up of "highly qualified" foreign workers. The U.S. has twice as many such workers, and Australia has 8 percent more.

The EU has recognized the impending crisis and is scrambling to find a solution.

"In an effort to attract big brains from abroad, the European Commission wants to create an express line for the EU labor market." The plan would make available a renewable permit, called a blue card and inspired by the U.S. green card, which "would allow highly skilled workers and their families to move easily between member states and jobs."

The blue card is almost necessary, because each of the EU's member states has a different set of immigration rules. And, with many EU member states facing high unemployment rates and/or social unrest caused in part by immigration, many balked at the idea of encouraging the immigration of additional foreign workers.

"Cardholders and their families will still be able to move from country to country without returning home first, but EU member states will be able to impose their own quotas on migration, and cardholders will need to prove they have a job awaiting them before settling in another state."

There is obviously much fine-tuning to be done, and hopefully as the details of the blue card program are addressed, so too will be the underlying resentment toward immigrants common in many locations across the EU. For more information on immigration in the EU, see my previous post: Ireland Shaped By Growing Immigrant Population.

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