Brussels, 17 Mar 2005
For Europe to meet the Lisbon and Barcelona targets of increasing research investment and to offset the "brain drain" of recent decades, much more must be done to bring non-EU scientists into the European research area. On Wednesday the EP Civil Liberties Committee gave its backing to plans by the European Commission to create a special residence permit for non-EU researchers, although MEPs called for greater protection of rights such as family reunification and direct access to social security systems.
The aim of the draft directive is to make Europe more attractive to international researchers by offering them a renewable residence permit with some privileges which differ from a normal visa: once a scientist is invited by a host research organisation in the EU to conduct a research project for more than three months, this person would be entitled to obtain in less than 30 days a residence permit for the duration of the research project in the Member State in question, without needing to apply for a work permit.
Parliament is only being consulted on this legislation and any amendments it adopts are non-binding on the Council of Ministers. The Civil Liberties Committee is urging that mandatory provisions be added on family reunification so that direct family members (spouse or partner, children under 21 or dependent parents) will have the right to join the researcher. The Council wants these measures to be optional for Member States. MEPs would also like the researcher and relatives to have full access to the national sickness insurance scheme
MEPs see mobility as an essential factor in the transfer of knowledge and formation of scientists' networks, so they passed an amendment to allow the visa holder to conduct part of his/her research work in another Member State. However if the researcher wishes to stay there for more than three months, the second Member State may require a new hosting agreement.
This new directive will be a small but crucial step in the achievement of the ambitious agenda set in Lisbon and Barcelona in 2002, where Member States committed themselves to invest 3% of the national GDP in research and recruit 700,000 researchers in Europe by 2010.
15.03.2005Â Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home AffairsÂ Â Â Â Â Â &A circ; In the chair: Jean-Marie CAVADA (ALDE, FR)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â ; Procedure: ConsultationÂ Â Â Â Â Â&nb sp;Â Plenary vote: April I
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