Photo by Darren Wanliss on Unsplash
MEPs have backed draft EU legislation to issue work and residence permits more quickly for nationals of third countries and to improve their rights.
With 47 votes in favour, 13 against, and no abstentions, the Civil Liberties Committee adopted a report updating the 2011 single permit directive foresees a single administrative procedure for delivering a permit to third-country nationals wishing to live and work in an EU country.
Last year, Eurostat estimated that by 2070, the size of the EU’s working age population would go from about 65% to between 56% and 54% of the total EU population.MEPs stressed that migrant workers “play a key role in helping Europe deal with demographic change and labour market challenges.”
Under the revision of the Single Permit Directive – voted through on Thursday – there will be a combined procedure, for both residence and work, for non-EU workers. To prevent unfair and abusive practices by employers, the new rules will also guarantee a set of rights so that non-EU workers are treated equally to national workers.
MEPs amended the Commission’s plan to include seasonal workers or with temporary protection status. EU member states would retain the power to determine how many third-country nationals can enter their territory for work.
MEPs set a limit of 90 days for reaching a decision on an application for a single permit, from the current four months. This time limit would be shortened to 45 days if the applicant were selected through an EU talent partnership or already holds a single permit in another EU country. The single permit should be issued in paper format and be accessible in electronic format.
Under the revised rules, there will be a simplified procedure to allow the worker to change employer.
MEPs also want the single permit holder to be able to keep it while being unemployed, for at least nine months, from the three months proposed by the Commission, so that they can search for new employment.
After the vote, the rapporteur Javier Moreno Sanchez (S&D, ES) said: “We are making the procedure for obtaining a single permit as simple and fast as possible. This way it can become a useful tool for companies and workers from third countries, responding quickly to the needs of the labour market and strengthening legal paths to reach Europe in search of work. Secondly, we guarantee equal treatment of workers from third countries as compared to national workers, protecting them from exploitation and other illegal situations, while facilitating their full integration in our societies.”
MEPs also agreed -with 53 votes in favour, 6 against, and no abstentions – to open negotiations with the EU ministers on the final form of the law. The decision is expected to be announced at the 17-20 April European Parliament plenary session. If there are no objections in plenary, the talks may begin once the Council adopts its own negotiating position.
Sanchez added, “Legal migration is a win-win for Europe. We want to make the procedure for obtaining a single permit as simple and fast as possible, so that it can become a useful tool for companies and workers from third countries, responding quickly to the needs of the labour market and strengthening safe and legal paths to reach Europe in search of work.”
“We are also taking action to stop employers bending or breaking the rules. These abusive practices undermine the benefits of legal migration opportunities. By paying their tax and by contributing to Europe’s economy and society, third country workers deserve equal treatment in terms of rights. That’s why we are fighting for a guaranteed set of rights for non-EU workers that are equal to national worker’s rights. This is essential to stop employers from exploiting workers and to prevent a race to the bottom on working conditions.”