The opinion recalls that in the context of demographic change, the EU is dependent in part on immigration of highly skilled workers to ensure growth and prosperity. A common EU recruitment strategy is therefore needed, because in the global competition for skilled workers Europe as a bloc can take a stronger position than its individual Member States.
The opinion broadly welcomes the revision of the Blue Card, since it makes the card more attractive as a way of entering the EU and in particular makes it significantly easier for holders of the card to move within the EU.
A common strategy for attracting skilled workers from outside the EU should be comprehensive, covering all the relevant spheres from the initial approach to workers interested in immigrating through to dealing with pension entitlements. This should also mean considering immigrants who have first completed part of their university education in the host country. The implications for countries of origin of skilled workers emigrating must also be taken into account.
It is important in addition to achieve the broadest possible consensus so that the Member States also commit themselves to this strategy and consistently implement the measures decided on at EU level. Care should be taken in the process to ensure close involvement of national and European social partners. Equal opportunities and non-discrimination must be guaranteed in the employing of third-county nationals.
Regarding admission policy, the opinion agrees that joint rules at the EU level can make it easier for third-country nationals to access European labour markets. However, full harmonisation of admission policy does not appear sensible or necessary at the moment.
While the Commission proposes a single EU-wide scheme, replacing parallel national schemes for the purpose of highly skilled employment, the EESC considers that the proposal goes too far in the present circumstances, because it takes away the Member States' scope to maintain their own routes for admitting highly qualified workers – routes that are geared to their specific needs.
The opinion agrees with the measures to facilitate granting of the card, but expresses scepticism about the application of lower salary thresholds. A level for highly qualified workers below the average income is not acceptable.
The same goes for the optional possibility of replacing a university degree with equivalent professional experience.
Finally, the opinions considers that it is important to achieve the broadest possible consensus so that the Member States commit themselves to the revised Blue Card and consistently implement the measures decided on at EU level. Close involvement of national and European social partners is needed. Equal opportunities and non-discrimination must be guaranteed in the employing of third-county nationals.