Even as executives from America's high-tech companies continue to criticize the country's immigration policies, which they contend don't do enough to help skilled foreign workers relocate to the U.S., the European Union is trying to create an expedited scheme to make Europe a more attractive destination for immigrants.
According to a Reuters story published on CIO Insight, all EU states must approve the scheme before it becomes law. This is by no means a given, as some countries, including Germany, do not want the EU to exert undue influence on their immigration policies. As in the U.S. -- and just about everywhere else -- immigration is a highly charged issue.
Yet many regions of the world face a shortfall of engineers, doctors and other highly skilled professionals. The president of a German machinery and plant manufacturers' association tells Reuters that his sector needs at least 8,000 more engineers.
EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says that difficulties in moving between EU states, red tape and a lack of social benefits make Europe a less desirable destination for immigrants than the U.S., Canada or Australia. The new plan, called the "blue card," would "send a clear signal -- highly skilled people from all over the world are welcome in the EU."
The EU's commissioner for immigration says immigrants comprise 0.9 percent of the region's workforce, vs. 9.9 percent in Australia and 3.5 percent in the U.S.
While the blue card appears to focus largely on skilled workers -- with its requirement that workers have a position that pays at least three times the local minimum wage and offers health insurance -- the EU is also proposing to establish an EU-wide set of rights that would apply to all immigrant workers.