The European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) supported the positions of the Government of the Republic on improving the EU Blue Card Directive in order to make entry and working of highly qualified workers in the EU more flexible.
Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Kalle Palling said that the aim is to improve the EU’s ability to attract highly skilled workforce from third countries and also to enhance the intra-EU mobility of such workers. In Palling’s opinion, the Blue Card would make the movement of workforce between the Member States more flexible and facilitate short-term working in the EU. For example, workers who have been issued a green card in one Member State can go to work in another Member State without having to submit additional documents.
Estonia also supports the proposal to lower the salary threshold requirement to the applicants of the EU Blue Card and applying a separate salary threshold to those persons who have graduated from university in the last three years. However, such salary threshold should not be lower than the rate established in Estonia.
It was explained to the Committee that the most important changes in comparison to the existing procedure would include lowering the salary threshold to 1.0 of the average national salary, previous working time, movement between the Member States and scope of the Directive.
The Directive will enable highly qualified worker to get long-term residence permit if he or she has resided continuously in the same Member State for three years. The Directive also allows a third-country national holding the Blue card to add up the time lived in different Member States, but the condition here is that it is necessary to reside in a specific Member State for two years.
At the same time, it was said in the Committee that the Member States should retain the right to decide how many third country nationals looking for jobs they allow on their territories and to refuse issuing residence permits on this basis.
The Committee was explained that the legal systems in the EU differ by Member States and most probably it would not be possible to find a solution that suits all. Therefore Estonia supports the position that the Member States should be allowed to apply national schemes to strengthen their economies. For example, issuing start-up visas in the case of Estonia.
The representative the Ministry of the Interior pointed out that the possibility to apply the Blue Card exists also now, but it is used relatively little. At the moment, there are 65 Blue Cards in Estonia; altogether about 140 Blue Cards have been issued in recent years.
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