Blue Card - key to Europe?

(german version)

With the "Blue Card" should highly qualified professionals from third-countries be lured to Europe. Details about the Blue Card requirements.

High Potentials for Europe - Woman with laptopThe European Union will open its borders to highly skilled workers in spring 2011. On 27.10. 2008 the ambassadors of the 27 EU states agreed on a compromise.


The blue card proposal was introduced in 2007 by José Manuel Barroso and Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security Franco Frattini. They motivated the "Blue Card" with

  • the EU’s future lack of labour and skills
  • the difficulties for third country workers to work in Europe
  • the conflicting admission procedures for the EU member states
  • and last but not least, the "rights gap" between EU citizens and legal immigrants.


Europe is in global competition for engineers, programmers and other professionals. The Blue Card shall make Europe more attractive for them. The Blue Card program shall attract more high potentials to Europe - so far they much more prefer the United States, Canada or Australia.

Conditions and Benefits

  • Each member state decides on immigrants' admission - a European immigration quota does not exist.
  • The Blue Card requires a job with a minimum salary of 1,5 times the annual gross average wage in the immigration country of your like.
  • The card entitles the holder to travel in Europe.
  • Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom are not subject to the proposal.
  • After 18 months of residence in the country, the card owner can move in another EU country of his choice. The new destination country may consider whether a work permit is issued.
  • After five years, the Blue Card owner can obtain a long-term residence permit. The stays in different countries may be added.
  • Family reunion is facilitated.

Competent authority has (only) to be informed about changes of employment. Germany's Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble wants the authority to approve the change order to prevent abuse. If he succeeds that means more control and bureaucracy.

The above data are preliminary, since the discussion of European interior ministers is not yet complete.

Blue Card in Germany

According to the will of Mr. Schaeuble, immigration to Germany is a national matter - not an EU scheme. The Blue Card may become a minimal compromise, but immigration and work permits are licensed by the "Migrationssteuerungsgesetz" (migration control act). Under this Act, the minimum salary, which allows non-EU citizens access to the German labor market is so far at 84,000 Euro p.a. The Bundestag will reduce this to 63,000 Euro p.a. In contrast, the Blue Card lower the hurdle: the minimum salary is currently here at 1,5 times of the annual gross average wage in a member country. That would be in Germany 42,000 Euro per year.

sleeping workers
Seems to be just a break. But ... Due to the lack of labour and skills, Europe could suffer from a structural crisis that lasts much longer. A standardized work permit can help to avoid this.


German politicians don't want too much skilled immigrants, or as Schaeuble yesterday said, the will not obey the desire for cheap skilled immigrants. Foreign workers can and will meanwhile migrate to other countries. In the year 2007 have 446 highly skilled professionals from non-EU countries moved to Germany.

(last edit: 28.10. 2008; main source: F.A.Z.)

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