All European countries are facing a demographic challenge. We have an ageing population that will need to be supported by ever fewer people of working age. At the same time we are living in a globalised world where the fight is on between countries and continents to attract the best and the brightest minds and innovators.
If the EU is to be able to defend its competitiveness in this international competition we need to be able to make the most of all of the benefits that we have and to significantly simplify the rules for those that would want to come here to contribute with their knowledge and ingenuity.
During this mandate I have led the negotiations which led to the development for a much improved and simplified set of rules to attract students and researchers from countries outside of the EU to European universities. It is extremely important in order to allow our European universities to compete with universities in for example the USA, Japan, China and Australia in attracting the best researchers. At the same time, we have made it significantly easier for these people to stay in Europe and contribute either as workers or entrepreneurs after graduating.
The EU needs to lower its thresholds for labour migration. This is true both for highly skilled jobs and work that requires less specialised skills. Almost everyone knows about the American “green card” system but almost no-one knows about the EU’s corresponding “blue card” since it is far too complicated.
Some improvements have been made for example for seasonal workers and for persons that need to have mobility within major corporations, but much remains to be done in order to ensure that we have a labour migration policy which is adapted to the requirements of our globalised world.