Eur Activ

Workers from outside the European Union will be able to apply more easily to live and work in member states following European Parliament’s approval yesterday (13 December) of a single permit directive.

The rules – already agreed by member states’ governments – offer foreign workers the right to similar working conditions, pensions, social security and access to public services as EU citizens.

First proposed by the Commission in 2007, migrant workers will have a single application procedure for residency and work permits once member states transpose the single permit directive into national law, which they are required to do within two years.

One-stop shop for foreign workers

Member states will still retain the right to decide who can enter their territories, and to restrict the rights of specific foreign workers on an ad-hoc basis.

“I am very pleased that this directive has finally been adopted, as it will certainly simplify the life of migrants applying to reside and work in the EU,” said Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for home affairs. “The directive will ensure a one-stop-shop system, thereby accelerating administrative procedures both for the future employer and the migrant.”

“This is an important step in facilitating legal migration,” she said, “as well as in ensuring rights for migrants who are legally working and contributing to the cultural richness of our societies and the strength of our economy.”

A second-reading legislative agreement between the European Parliament and Council on the single permit will be deemed adopted following yesterday’s session of the European Parliament, as no amendments were tabled.

The single permit will apply to 24 countries, with the UK, Denmark and Ireland having negotiated opt-outs from the legislation.


“The current text is not perfect but it is an attempt to provide honest people who want to come and work within the EU with an easier mechanism to do so,” said Romanian MEP Renate Weber of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe’s (ALDE), the coordinator and spokesperson on this subject on the Justice and Home Affairs committee.

“The quid pro quo of the 2008 Return Directive on sending back ineligible asylum applicants was to introduce legislation dealing with legal migration, making it more coherent and humane. This is a priority task for the European Commission as well as for ALDE. The complete migration package should be adopted by the end of 2012. The single permit file is the first of these measures.”

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