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The EU's Blue Card: Will It Attract Asia's Highly Skilled?

GIGA Focus International Edition (3/2011) by Jan Peter Wogart and Margot Schüller

Download: <www.giga-hamburg.de/giga-focus/international>

As of this year, the EU Council will implement Directive No. 2009/50/EC of 25 May 2009, which is meant to coordinate and simplify the immigration of highly skilled migrants (HSMs) from third countries.

It is expected that the new system, providing HSMs with "blue cards", will not only help Europe overcome current shortages of skilled labour but also contribute to alleviating the continent's ageing problem. We argue that this action is overdue, but we maintain that the impact of the measures will be rather small in this decade. Those countries from which a growing inflow of HSMs is expected are increasingly demanding highly qualified personnel themselves or are eager to lure them back. Thus, the EU will need to make additional efforts in order to create a win-win situation for host and home countries as well as for the HSMs themselves.

- The overdue blue card initiative provides a common starting point for HSMs to jointly consider the majority of European countries as potential host locations. It is doubtful, however, that the blue card will have a significant impact on the pattern of immigration to the European countries before 2020.

- Past attempts to open up immigration for the highly skilled have been less than successful. A "green card" initiative by the German government in 2004, which aimed to attract IT personnel from India, provides a useful case study about a rather limited response from Asian HSMs to move to Europe.

- In addition to the traditional immigration countries' hunt for HSMs, strong economic growth and dynamic restructuring in emerging economies - particularly China and India - have intensified the global war for talents. They have introduced a reverse brain drain policy, trying to attract highly qualified foreign personnel.

- Along with the United States and other traditional immigration countries like Canada and Australia, China, in particular, is going to become an important competitor on the international market for the highly skilled.

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idw :: 09.09.2011