On 27 April 2022, the EU Commission presented legislative and political initiatives that are part of its comprehensive migration concept. The overarching goal is to intensify cooperation with third countries for the benefit of the European economy.
In its Communication, the EU Commission proposes to revise the Single Permit Directive and the Long-Term Residents Directive. Apart from these two legislative proposals, developing “Talent Partnerships” and in particular setting up a “Talent Pool", form the centrepiece of the measures proposed in the Commission’s Communication. The proposals also include specific measures to facilitate the integration of people in the labour market, who flee Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.
Single Permit Directive
The EU Commission proposes to accelerate and simplify the procedure to grant a combined work and residence permit in order to streamline the often-lengthy immigration proceedings. In future it shall be possible to make applications both from non-EU countries and from within the EU, whereby EU countries shall be obliged to accept these applications. Permit holders shall be granted the right to change their employer during the permit’s validity. Parallel to the revision, the EU Commission also wants to implement new provisions on penalties against employers in case of violations of working conditions, freedom of association and access to social security benefits and to introduce complaints mechanisms.
Long-Term Residents Directive
The revision of the Long-Term Residents Directive shall make the acquisition of a long-term residency status easier, simplify admission conditions and strengthen the rights of residents and their family members, including the right to move to another EU Member State and work there. Therefore, the EU Commission proposes that in future the required 5-year period of residence can be cumulative in different Member States. Periods of residence under temporary and national protection, and as students should also be counted. Apart from that, the proposals provide for an improved right to family reunification without integration conditions, with full access to work for family members.
Better matching of skills and labour market needs
The EU Commission proposes to intensify the cooperation between EU countries and with partner countries, as well as taking steps towards the implementation of such partnerships. An EU Talent Pool shall also be set up to make the EU more attractive for non-EU nationals looking for opportunities and help employers find the talent they need. The EU Commission plans to submit a recommendation for setting up the Talent Pool, its Charta and the presentation of a roadmap for the gradual development of its components by mid-2023. Within the scope of this Talent Pool, the EU Commission recommends a pilot initiative, which shall facilitate access to the labour market for new arrivals from Ukraine and shall come into force by summer 2022. However, without the prospect of a further right of residence for Ukrainian citizens, such an initiative remains incomplete.
From AK’s point of view, the announced measures are sound proposals. Nonetheless, the coexistence of national and European migration law with all its difficulties remains. The suspicion arises that, compared to the Common European Asylum System, very little energy is put into legal migration. However, forced migration in quantitative terms is significantly lower than voluntary migration, such as labour, family and education migration. A realistic European migration policy must also be located in global inequality conditions. From AK’s point of view, it is important to understand and address asylum and migration policy as part of the global issue of justice. Measures to better integrate people who have fled (e.g. an integration year), for example, but also family members who are coming to join them in the labour market are completely lacking. It has to be criticised that the announced measures to facilitate the integration of Ukrainian refugees into the labour market is above all concerned with their “displaced person status”. However, a transition towards a long-term residence status remains completely open.