EP rejects draft Directive on residence and work single permit

Following the debate held at the Plenary Session of the European Parliament on 14 December, MEPs rejected the draft Directive providing for the introduction of a single residence and work permit for legal immigrants. Commission must now decide whether to withdraw the proposal ans present a new one or to maintain it, in which case it would return to the Plenary in the coming months.

The single permit Directive, which complements the so-called "blue card" for highly-skilled immigrants Directive, is designed to facilitate legal immigration where it meets the needs of the European labour market. The aim is to simplify administrative requirements for third-country nationals by enabling them to obtain work and residence permits via a single procedure at a one-stop shop and to grant a common set of rights to immigrants legally residing and working in the EU. This proposal which was first backed by the Eurochamber back in September has now been rejected in the terms in which it has been discussed at the Plenary session by 306 favourable votes to 350 against, and 25 abstentions.

The proposed Directive would exclude refugees and permanent residents, as well as temporary workers and displaced persons, who will be covered by sectoral directives awaiting for debate in Parliament. Some political groups were opposed to the sectoral approach of the proposal.

The adoption of a series of amendments during the parliamentary debate which allowed Member States to introduce additional documents relating to residence, caused the liberal group to decide not  to adopt the proposal in the final vote.

During the debate Commissioner Cecilia Malstrom stressed that the motivation of the Commission in presenting this proposal was to simplify procedures, giving guarantee for due process to immigrants and employers. The aim is to respect the criteria for protection of migrant workers and ensure their rights on an equal footing with European citizens.

Some MEPs were concerned about what they considered as limited progress of common policy on immigration and asylum, and the existence of a different labour market in each Member State. However, some of them were opposed to the proposed directive on the grounds that it would have different laws for different workers and therefore violate the EU Fundamental Rights.

The process now continues with Civil Liberties Committee and Employment deciding next steps and reporting to the Parliament within two months. The Commission in its side will decide whether to maintain the proposal or withdraw it to present a new one.