According to an article in the Irish Times, Ireland with its relatively open immigration system is more successful in attracting foreign researchers than other European Union countries.
Conor O'Carroll, research director for the Irish Universities Association, said that about 35 percent of PhD students and 38 percent of researchers at major universities in Ireland are foreign. About half of these are from outside the EU, mostly from India, China, and the United States.
"Recent data from the Irish universities study have shown that it is the quality of institutions and research that is attracting students and researchers here," O'Carroll stated.
Immigrating to the EU in general is relatively easy for scientific researchers, due to fast-track immigration schemes adopted by member nations and the establishment of an EU-wide network of support for third country researchers. However, mobility within the EU is still an issue. Each Country in the EU has it's own immigration system. In comparison the United States is one Country, has one immigration system, and has the largest economy in the World.
"International mobility is now a cornerstone of EU policy," O'Carroll wrote, perhaps alluding to the EU blue card initiative, a plan to make immigration easier and more unified across the 27 member nations for non-EU citizens. The blue card, which has some similarities to the United States green card scheme, would allow third-country nationals and their families to live and work in the EU in highly skilled occupations and enable them to move between member states.
O'Carroll feels that Europe's aspirations for becoming a beacon of scientific research will depend on how it compares to the United States, which is seen as the leader in scientific research.