Friday, 29 August 2008

Third country workers in the EU

The European Union is working on a
Council Directive on a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of a Member State and on a common set of rights for third-country workers legally residing in a Member State
The directive goes back to a proposal by the European Commission from October 2007. The French Council presidency has now (in July) presented a compromise proposal, which as far as I can see is the latest version of the text.

In Article 4 (2), as a good summary of what the directive is about, the draft directive reads:
Member States shall examine the application and adopt a decision to grant, to modify or to renew the single permit if the applicant fulfils the requirements specified in national law. The decision granting, modifying or renewing the single permit shall constitute one combined title encompassing both residence and work permit within one administrative act.
When you look at the bold parts of the directive's text indicating changed or compromise formulations, it looks however like the directive has been moved towards more power of the member states, leaving more authority to the national laws and the national authorities.

In Article 12, the "Right to equal treatment" (compared to national workers) is codified in detail and at least here it seems as if at this stage of the process, member states are agreeing.

Altogether, the directive looks like a nice little piece of bureaucracy reduction. However, with all the details and exceptions leaving much room for the member states to manoeuvre, it does not appear to be a big integrationist project.