Legal migration is part of a balanced common EU migration policy from which migrants, countries of origin, and countries of destination benefit. It gives people who plan to migrate an opportunity to improve their circumstances. At the same time, it helps host countries to address labour market needs.
Legal migration is also an investment in the economy and the society. It supports the EU’s green and digital transition, while contributing to making European societies more cohesive and resilient.
Organising legal migration better
The policy establishes a framework for legal migration taking fully into account the importance of integration in host societies.
The EU has developed rules to harmonies Member States’ conditions of entry and residence for certain categories of nationals from non-EU countries. This includes entry and residence for labour purposes, such as highly qualified workers (subject to the EU Blue Card Directive), seasonal workers and intra-corporate transferees.
Further EU rules regulate:
- the admission conditions and rights of students and researchers of non-EU countries
- the right to family reunification,
- the conditions and procedures for nationals of non-EU countries to obtain a long-term residence permit
EU legislation also lays down a single procedure, and a Single Permit combining the authorisation to work and reside, for workers from non-EU countries admitted under Member States’ national schemes.
Another important aspect of EU’s legal migration is the labour mobility schemes with non-EU countries. Pilot projects show that by providing targeted support, the EU can help Member States implement schemes that meet the needs of employers, while reinforcing the human capital development in partner countries.
In 2019 the Commission completed a Fitness Check on Legal Migration - an overall evaluation of this legal framework.
Proposals to modernise EU’s legal migration policy
On 27 April 2022, the Commission presented a Communication setting out an approach towards a new and sustainable EU legal migration policy, attracting the skills and talent that the EU needs to address labour shortages and reply to the demographic change in Europe. On the same day, the Commission also presented a proposals to modernise the Long-term residents Directive and the Single Permit Directive. The main objectives of these recasts are to:
- reduce costs and the administrative burden for employers
- prevent labour exploitation
- support further integration and mobility within the EU of nationals of non-EU countries that are already residing and working in the EU
EU Talent Pool and its pilot initiative
In the Communication on Attracting skills and talent, the Commission proposed to establish the first EU-wide labour platform and matching tool - the EU Talent Pool. It will help make the EU more attractive for nationals from non-EU countries and to address the challenge of matching EU employers with the talent they are unable to find in the EU’s labour market.
The EU Talent Pool will be an EU-wide pool of candidates from non-EU countries. Candidates will be selected on the basis of specific skill levels, criteria and migration requirements following a screening of candidates’ credentials. The Communication presents key features of the pool, building on the OECD studies:
As a result of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, a new and urgent need emerged to facilitate the access of beneficiaries of temporary protection in the EU labour market.
To respond to this challenge and make the best use of the displaced persons’ skills, the Commission announced that it would launch a Pilot EU Talent Pool for people fleeing the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine by summer 2022. This web-based pilot initiative will make it possible to identify and map the skills of people that have fled Ukraine and who are present in the Member States, to facilitate their matching with EU employers.
A permanent and general EU Talent Pool for all nationals of non-EU countries who are interested in migrating to live and work in the EU, will be developed in parallel to the pilot initiative for beneficiaries of temporary protection fleeing the war in Ukraine.
This will be done in close consultation with participating Member States and relevant stakeholders, such as employers, social partners and vocational education and training centres. The Commission aims to formally launch the EU Talent Pool and its web portal by mid-2023.
EU immigration Portal
The EU Immigration Portal, launched in November 2011, provides hands-on information for foreign nationals interested in moving to the EU. The site is also directed at migrants who are already in the EU and would like to move from one EU State to another. It provides specific practical information about procedures in all 27 EU States for each category of migrants.
As emphasised in the Pact on Migration and Asylum, a successful integration and inclusion policy is an essential part of a well-managed and effective migration and asylum policy.
Labour immigration has a key role to play in driving economic development in the long term and in addressing current and future demographic challenges in the EU.
Family reunification Directive establishes the rules under which non-EU nationals can bring their family members to the EU country in which they are legally residing.
Study and research
Students and researchers Directive sets the conditions of admission and rights of non-EU nationals for the purposes of research, studies, training and voluntary service.
Directive on the status of non-EU nationals who are long-term residents sets the conditions under which non-EU nationals can obtain the status of long-term residents.
Resettlement and other pathways to protection
Resettlement means the admission of non-EU nationals in need of international protection from a non-EU country to which they have been displaced to an EU country where they are granted protection.
Cooperation with economic and social partners
The Commission has an intense cooperation with economic and social partners on the topic of integration in the labour market.
Legal Migration Fitness Check
Seven EU directives govern admission to and residence in the EU for non-EU migrants, and these laws cover a large part of the migrants arriving to or staying in the EU for work, study or to join family members.
The Talent Partnerships will enhance legal pathways to the EU, while engaging partner countries strategically on migration management.
European Migration Forum (EMF)
The European Migration Forum (EMF) is a platform for dialogue between civil society organisations and European Institutions on topics related to immigration, asylum and integration.
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