(CN) – Skilled workers who legally immigrate throughout Europe can enjoy equal rights in their new homes under a new unified residency and work-permit system that the European Parliament adopted Tuesday.
The legislation is part of a package on legal migration that has been in the pipeline since 2005. It also fits into EU policy addressing migration and mobility, which has ticked up in importance since increased numbers of refugees from the Arab Spring began arriving earlier this year.
“This is an important step in facilitating legal migration, as well as in ensuring rights for migrants who are legally working and contributing to the cultural richness of our societies and the strength of our economy,” EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said in a statement.
The new permit is supposed to act as a “one-stop shop,” since legal migrants would seek the right to both live and work through a single application. Individual member countries will still set the conditions for allowing a person to reside and earn a living there.
Along with standardizing the application process, the legislation guarantees that migrants in possession of the new permit will receive treatment equal to that of any EU citizen in the workplace, including receiving the same pay and dismissal terms, rights to training, and social security benefits like health care.
The directive has been passed in the context of an aging Europe that has been experiencing a shrinking workforce. Immigrants are expected to make up more than half of population growth in coming years, and certain categories of skilled workers will have to come from outside of the EU, according to the European Council.
EU member states are supposed to transcribe the directive into national law within two years.