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Migration and Home Affairs

Highly qualified workers from non-EU countries play a crucial role in strengthening the competitiveness of the EU. Key sectors of the EU economy already suffer from specific labour and skill shortages that are expected to increase in the coming years. Therefore, the EU needs to attract more highly skilled workers in a world where international competition for talent is increasing.

In order to make the Blue Card scheme more attractive and relevant across EU countries, the Commission put forward a proposal for a new EU Blue Card Directive in June 2016 offering a more harmonised, simplified and streamlined approach. The negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament were successfully concluded by a political agreement in May 2021. The revised Directive entered into force on 27 November 2021.

Legal framework

The EU Blue Card Directive establishes the conditions of entry and residence of highly qualified non-EU nationals in EU countries. The related residence and work permit is called EU Blue Card.

More information on the key provisions of the EU Blue Card directive in the Summary of EU legislation – EU Blue card (for example eligibility conditions, length of validity, related rights)

Objectives

  • enable the EU to attract and retain highly qualified non-EU nationals and facilitate their access to the labour market of EU countries
  • establish a fast-track procedure and common admission criteria for issuing the Blue Card by EU countries
  • facilitate movement of highly qualified persons around the EU

Documents

Policy timeline

  1. 2016
    Proposal for a Directive

    Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment; SWD(2016) 193 impact assessment of revision of BCD.

  2. 2014
    Communication

    Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of Directive 2009/50/EC on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purpose of highly qualified employment. (First implementation report).

  3. 2009
    Adoption of Directive
  4. 2007
    Proposal for a Directive

    Proposal for a Council Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment.