Proposed law would create single EU work permit and visa

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The European Union Single Permit Directive is one step closer to being approved. This week the Civil Liberties and Employment Committees of the European Parliament backed the Single Permit Directive, which would give non-EU migrant workers in the EU the same status as EU nationals, allowing them to benefit from comparable working conditions, social security and access to public services. However, it remains to be seen how this will work in practice. EU member states will have the right to decide whether to admit workers under the new EU work visa scheme and how many to admit.

The proposed legislation would create a single application for a single permit for non-EU nationals to reside and obtain work visas in the EU. Under the agreement, single permit holders would enjoy equal treatment as EU nationals regarding pay and dismissal, health and safety at work, the right to join trade unions, recognition of diplomas, access to public goods and services and social security. Once the law is passed, EU member states would decide on the specific requirements of the single permit application.

The changes would only apply to non-EU nationals who wish to reside and work in an EU member state, or who already legally reside or work in an EU country. The Single Permit Directive would not cover long-term residents, refugees, seasonal workers or intra-company transferees, or au pairs.

"This directive is a first step towards a common European policy on economic migration. It will allow more effective action against illegal migration, which benefits mafia networks, and help to meet the labour needs that Europe will face in coming years," said French EU Parliament member Véronique Mathieu.

Mathieu noted that the Directive acknowledges that "all persons working legally in Europe must have the same rights as European workers" and added it would "help to combat unfair competition for European workers".

Next week Parliament will make a final vote on the directive and following its approval, EU member states will have two years to place the directive into their national laws.

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