“More and more people in Europe are able to find a job and we witness the highest employment level ever recorded. Europe is reaping the benefits of targeted policy reforms. At the same time we need to address further challenges. We must ensure fair working conditions and protection for all workers, independent of their employment status. On the basis of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which we launched on 26 April, we are working to modernise the rules on employment contracts and social protection to achieve better working and living conditions across the EU.” Commented Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility.
The Commission published its yearly report on Labour Market and Wage Developments in Europe. This year’s edition confirms the positive labour market trends that have been witnessed in the EU. EU employment has surpassed pre-crisis levels with more than 235 million people at work. Unemployment which now stands at 7.6% is also approaching levels prior to the recession. In addition, the report shows that it has become easier for unemployed people to find a job, and that wages increased in almost all Member States – in the euro area they rose by 1.2% in 2016. On the other hand, more flexible working arrangements have brought advantages to both firms and individuals, but have led in some cases to a divide between workers holding different types of contracts, with people in temporary employment and self-employment being less well protected.
“The purpose of the Blue Card is to attract highly qualified workers to Europe. The number of specialists and economic transformers in the world is limited and the competition for them is strong. Making them choose Europe will strengthen our competitiveness and contribute to economic growth”, said Andres Anvelt, minister of interior of Estonia, which currently holds the Council presidency.
The Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) agreed on a mandate for negotiations on a draft directive covering entry and residence conditions for highly qualified workers coming from third countries (blue card directive). Based on this mandate, the Council presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament.
“A common European residence and work permit that will facilitate and make conditions more flexible is necessary if we want to compete with the American green card or the Canadian point system”, minister Anvelt added.
The reform of the blue card directive aims at making it more attractive for highly qualified workers from third countries to come to work in the EU. It will also aim to improve their mobility between jobs in different member states. It would replace the existing blue card directive, harmonising further conditions of entry and residence and improving the situation of highly qualified workers by the following means:
providing more inclusive admission criteria, including by reducing the salary threshold that member states can set for the admission of third-country nationals and establishing that member states may apply a lower minimum salary rule also to recent graduates, as well as by reducing the minimum length of the work contract to six months
making the procedures faster, in particular by introducing the possibility to apply simplified procedures for recognised employers
establishing that member states may allow EU blue card holders to engage in parallel in self-employed activities or professional activities other than their main activity
facilitating intra-EU mobility, including by reducing the minimum period of legal residence in the first member state
extending its scope to include non-EU family members of EU citizens and in certain cases, also beneficiaries of international protection
The European Commission presented the proposal for a new blue card directive in June 2016 as part of the EU’s efforts to develop a comprehensive migration policy, including in the area of legal migration.
“This annual review shows once again that we are firmly on the path towards more jobs and growth. However, today’s young and their children may end up worse off than their parents. This is not what we want. Swift action is needed. With the European Pillar of Social Rights we want to preserve and improve our social standards and living conditions for future generations.” Commented Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen.
The Commission published the 2017 edition of its yearly Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) review. This year’s edition confirms positive labour market and social trends and continued economic growth. With over 234 million people having a job, employment has never been as high as today in the EU and unemployment is at its lowest level since December 2008. But looking beyond the overall social and economic progress, evidence shows that there is a particularly high burden, exacerbated by demographic ageing, on younger generations: they tend to have more difficulties in finding a job, are more often in non-standard and precarious forms of employment and are likely to receive lower pensions, relative to wages.
This is why the 2017 ESDE review focuses on intergenerational fairness: we need to make sure that all generations benefit from the current positive economic trends and that young people in Europe will have at least the same opportunities as their parents. The annual Employment and Social Developments in Europe review reports on the latest employment and social trends, and reflects on upcoming challenges and possible policy responses. It is the European Commission’s main report to provide evidence and analysis and to review trends and upcoming challenges on the labour market.