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The Blue Card Directive: Probing the Limits of EU Immigration Policy

Sidonie Paris

This paper focuses on highly skilled immigration, and examines the EU-level policy-making process, which led to the adoption of the Blue Card Directive. To this end, the paper explores the variety of actors - EU institutions, national representations, business and labour lobby groups - who, directly or indirectly, took part in the endeavour to set up a European policy targeted at third-country highly skilled workers. The period analysed stretches from the presentation of the directive proposal by the European Commission in October 2007 to the adoption of the final text by the Council of Ministers in May 2009. By disentangling the political dynamics visible in various venues, this study seeks to highlight the different positions and lines of division present both within and between political bodies, as well as the extent to which actors were able to influence the legislative process. It is argued that notwithstanding the fact that Member States did acknowledge the importance of legal migration in enhancing the knowledge-based economy in Europe, the maintenance of the unanimity rule in the Council (and the mere consultative role of the European Parliament) gave prominence to the intergovernmentalist approach over communitarisation. In fact, the ambition of the European Commission to establish a unique European entry and residence permit for high-skilled personnel was blocked by Member States, who clearly expressed their desire to retain their national schemes.

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