Brussels, 10 Jun 2004
Europe's R&D human resources are likely to receive a boost following a decision by the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Council which paves the way for researchers from third countries to work in the Union. But the Commission had hoped for more.
JHA Council recommendations open the EU's gate to more third country researchers
© Source: PhotoDisc
This week, the Justice and Home Affairs Council reached an important political agreement on the text of a recommendation calling for Member States to adopt very quickly several practical measures to facilitate the long-term admission of researchers from third countries into the European Union.
According to a statement issued on 8 June, these measures are particularly aimed at making it easier for scientists to gain access to the Union's scientific labour market. They also seek adoption by the EU-25 of procedures which would speed up the processing and delivery of resident permits for stays of over three months, as well as enhanced procedural co-operation between the Member States.
In addition, the measures should contribute to improving the attractiveness of Europe as a 'pole of excellence' in research and technological development. In the process, the new visa arrangements could also help the Union reach its Lisbon and Barcelona ambitions of becoming the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world, breathing more life into the European Research Area.
Adjustments along the way
While welcoming this very important set of recommendations, the Commission made a statement in which it expressed its regret that the instrument approved by the Council does not live up to the executive body's original proposal, particularly in relation to researchers' families. The Commission proposal stressed how important it is to streamline the process to provide the equivalent of a 'family visa', as separation from family is a strong deterrent for expatriate workers.
The EU's executive branch had also hoped to see mention of a set maximum time in which Member States must deliver residence permits requested by third country researchers that are not from a Member State or already 'associated' with the Union's Framework Programmes for research.
The recommendation forms part of a package of measures proposed in the Communication put forward by the Commission on 16 March 2004. It includes a Directive aimed at creating a way to expedite procedures for admitting specialists in certain attractive research fields, as well as another recommendation on the subject of short-stay visas.