EU Opening Up to Unskilled Foreign Workers

For the first time, the EU is looking into granting unskilled workers from outside the EU a legal route for seasonal employment. The controversial draft legislation that is currently before the European Parliament would allow seasonal workers, mostly in agriculture and tourism, to gain easier access to work permits for up to six months each calendar year and up to three years in a row.

Details of the Proposal

Applicants would have to have a work contract or a binding job offer that includes stated salary. This provision is supposed to help to ensure less exploitation of seasonal workers. Employers are also supposed to submit evidence of adequate accommodations for the workers.

A Modest Proposal

The UK centre-left MEP who is preparing the Parliament’s report, Claude Moraes, calls the proposal a “modest proposal” since it will simply regulate movements that are already taking place. As he said, “If you don’t open up those legal routes, you are ignoring mass illegal migration, which is unhealthy for EU societies.”

The proposed legislation doesn’t let migrants who are already in the EU apply for permits; rather it creates incentives, with the idea of the multi-annual permit, for applicants not to overstay their work visas.
The legislation must first be approved by the European Parliament in plenary and will then require the backing of a weighted majority of member states.

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