European Union hints at easier immigration rules

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The European Union External Relations Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, hinted at a new "migration initiative" which will facilitate easier migration and curb illegal immigration.

"The aim of this strategy is to stem illegal immigration, to encourage the flow of legal migrants and to remedy a lack of skilled labour in some EU economies," she said during an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt.

According to Ferrero-Waldner, simplified visa regulations would make it easier for migrants from non-member states to live and work in the EU.

EU member states would still control the amount of people they let in, but the new initiative is aimed at increasing the scope of the EU's free movement policy.

Whether the largely hinted European Union "blue card" will be a major part if this initiative, is unclear.

The proposed card, which would allow third country nationals to live, work and move between any European Union state under certain conditions, is scheduled to be formally introduced and discussed this month by EU Commissioner Franco Frattini.

The European Union states have vastly different skilled immigration programs, some of which are stricter than others. For example, Germany requires a job offer with a minimum salary of 85,000 euros a year for migrants who are hoping to get a work permit. On top of that, the employer has to prove that a suitable German candidate could not be found.

Other member states, such as the United Kingdom, offer schemes which allow third country nationals to live and work in the country without a specific job offer.