Towards an EU Blue Card? The Delegation of National High-Skilled Immigration Policies to the EU Level

Lucie Cerna

This paper examines the implementation of the proposed European Union (EU) Blue Card by the European Commission. The Commission voted on the Directive on the conditions of entry and residence for high-skilled third-country nationals in October 2008. Delegation to the EU level may provide a coherent and centralised framework for managing legal migration. It could make the EU more competitive by encouraging efficient recruitment and offering attractive conditions to high-skilled immigrants. However, member states vary in their openness to HSI due to different institutional constraints and coalitions among actors. In order to compare HSI legislation across countries, a High-Skilled Immigration Index (HSII) is constructed. The goal is to analyse the openness of national policies towards high-skilled immigrants. This index is composed of six sub-categories and assigns overall scores to HSI programmes of twenty countries. Besides policy openness, other factors that vary among member states also come into play, creating difficulties for reaching an agreement on the EU Blue Card. Different national labour market needs exist, which have made some EU member states reluctant to cede their responsibility to regulate labour market access and to grant rights to immigrants based on EU-figures and expectations. Even if member states have managed to agree on an EU policy, it will be based only on a least-common-denominator.

Key words: Blue Card, delegation, European Union, high-skilled immigration policies, level of governance.

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