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Monday, November 7, 2011

European Blue Card - the EU Finally Moves on Non-Compliance

I've described the implementation of the EU Blue Card as a "shipwreck in the fog looking for a coastline." Implementation has been very slow and, as all of you can attest to, it has been very frustrating trying to figure out which countries are moving forward and which ones are taking a more leisurely approach.

The European Commission issued this press release, "Blue Card' – Work permits for highly qualified migrants 6 Member States fail to comply with the rules" at the end of October.  They say:
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.
From this release I extrapolate that Germany, Poland and Sweden will not fully implement until next year, that Italy, Malta and Portugal are on stand-by and that the EU is satisfied with the other member-states' progress.

I was very curious to know exactly what this "infringement procedure" is so I looked it up.  According to the European Commission website, it starts with a "pre-litigation state" which seems to consist of warning letters and an investigation into the reasons for non-compliance.  The final stage is taking the recalcitrant state in front of the European Court of Justice where I assume the Court can apply a ruling and any applicable fines.  Knowing the EU I would imagine that this is a long process and I certainly can understand their desire to encourage member-states to comply without going so far as to actually take them to court.

However, I think they underestimate just how frustrated people are with the progress (or lack thereof) on the implementation of this Directive.  It's a combination of factors: the rather stiff salary and contract requirements, the confusion over which member-states are implementing and how to apply, and the lack of any centralized European information source - a website, for example, with a dashboard that show progress and gives clear indications about which countries are ready to start taking applications.  Perhaps such a thing exists but I sure haven't found it.

It is encouraging that the EU is taking action but they might want to speed up their efforts before all those highly-qualified individuals that they ostensibly want decide that Canada or Australia look like a much better deal.

My .02.

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