EU Legal Migration Fitness Check: promote better practical implementation of immigration law

The European Commission is carrying out a comprehensive consultation on the fitness of EU legislative provisions covering legal migration of non-EU citizens into the EU. The purpose of this initiative is to review the existing EU legislative framework for legal migration and legal residence of third-country nationals into EU Member States for relevance, coherence, effectiveness, efficiency as well as EU added value. To this end, the European Commission has brought in a wide range of expertise. BDA took part in the public consultation which closed in mid-September and drew attention to the following aspects of European labour migration:
General EU legislative framework for labour migration only possible with maintenance of room for national discretion

Broadly speaking, in the area of labour migration from third countries, the European Commission must not lose sight of existing imbalances and very different labour markets within the EU. It should only put in place a general legislative framework and leave Member States discretion to address national labour migration, in line with the principle of subsidiarity. Member States must therefore continue to maintain their residence permits in parallel and have the ability to determine the number of third-country immigrants coming into the country.

Before existing directives are amended again, their fitness for purpose must first be verified. For instance, shorter decision-making periods could help to accelerate the grant procedure in the Member States. Simultaneous processing of the applications of family members of skilled migrant workers is generally a good idea but unfortunately is not yet the rule.

Improvement of intra-EU mobility as an important factor for companies

In the wake of globalisation, flexible use of workers is becoming increasingly important for international companies. It is precisely highly qualified third-country nationals who are often deployed by companies for cross-border projects and/or at locations in several Member States. It should therefore also be possible for them to be posted at short notice. It would have to be verified in detail whether and to what extent legislative adjustments in the EU labour migration directives are necessary. What is generally decisive for companies which operate internationally is that the overall procedure for intra-European mobility can be completed rapidly, non-bureaucratically and electronically where possible. Obstacles to intra-EU mobility must be dismantled, e.g. through promotion of language skills, simpler recognition of professions and targeted information for workers and employers in this regard.

A European expression of interest system runs counter to German workplace-oriented immigration

The Legal Migration Fitness Check has also prompted the European Commission to explore the possible introduction of a Europe-wide expression of interest system (EOI). Following the Canadian model, such a system provides that foreign skilled workers should in principle also be allowed to immigrate without a concrete job offer following an evaluation of particular skills and characteristics (age, language skills, work experience). This runs counter to German immigration policy which has workplace-oriented immigration at its core. The decision as to which foreign workers are needed can best be taken by companies themselves. In addition, an EOI system with additional selection criteria would complicate German immigration law, which OECD has called one of the world’s most liberal orders in the area of skilled immigration. With an EOI system, labour migration from third countries would fall behind the existing possibilities. The results of the Legal Migration Fitness Check will probably be presented in the first half of 2018. Information about the text
drafted by: Séverine Féraud (BDA)

Séverine Féraud