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This study investigates policies for attracting highly qualified and qualified third-country nationals and is based on contributions from 23 EU Member States. Norway did not contribute to this study.
The EU 2020 Strategy identifies the need to facilitate economic migration in sectors in which labor and skills shortages are emerging, as well as to attract highly skilled third-country nationals in the global competition for talent. Most EU Member States have introduced legislation in order to do so within the last ten years, and two EU Directives have also been introduced in this regard (the Researchers’ Directive 2005/71/EC and the EU Blue Card Directive 2009/50/EC).
The rationales for national labor immigration policies are often similar, including job creation and stimulation of growth, filling current labor market shortages and addressing future labor market needs. Policy development has been controversial in many countries in light of high unemployment rates.
Some states focus on certain kinds of workers (such as self-employed persons), or certain kinds of sectors (such as health care or IT). There is an increasing focus on entrepreneurs.
Countries use different policy measures, including fast track procedures, unrestricted access to the labor market, information provision and employee sponsorship. They may also use incentives such as easy access to family reunification and favorable taxation.
There are still a number of challenges to the uptake of highly skilled employment. The report identifies emerging good practivcs with regard to information provision, adaption of immigration procedures and introduction of incentives.
The EU Blue Card Directive provides some potential for maximizing the benefits of highly skilled migration. It facilitates intra-EU mobility of workers and allows them to switch jobs and improve their skills and careers.