EU Blue Card scheme set to be overhauled

The European Commission is considering axing its ‘Blue Card’ skilled immigration system in favour of a new scheme, as the initiative has failed to prove popular.

The Blue Card system, which grants residency rights and work permits to highly-skilled migrants from outside the EU, was meant to be implemented in all member states by 2011, but has not had widespread take-up.

Recently released figures from Eurostat reveal that just 12,854 Blue Cards were issued in the EU in 2013. Of these, the vast majority (11,580) were issued in Germany, while France awarded 371 and Spain handed out 313.

Elsewhere, Sweden, Greece, Cyprus and Austria didn’t issue any, while Belgium, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Finland handed out five each or fewer.

The Commission believes that most EU member states need to start significantly upping their skilled worker intake, as new figures predict that the bloc’s population will not continue to increase indefinitely. Although the EU’s population is expected to reach 526 million – up from the current 507 million – by 2050, it will then start declining, falling to 523 million ten years later.

By 2060, it is expected that there will only be two working-aged people for every person over 65, down from four at the moment.

“Europe’s member states have a difficult period in front of them in terms of the jobs market,” said EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday. “Europe’s working population is going to decrease so [it] needs legal immigration.”

The commission has said it wants to “overhaul and modernise” the current Blue Card system, noting that Europe’s economy is “increasingly dependent on high-skilled jobs.”

A public discussion on the Blue Card is set to be launched by the EU Commission in the coming weeks.