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EU to ease mobility of non-EU corporate employees

13 July 2010, 22:30 CET

The proposed Directive of the European Commission covers third-country nationals who reside outside the EU territory and apply to be admitted to the territory of a Member State in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer. The new conditions of entry and residence aim at helping international companies to rely on mobility of third-country national intra-corporate transferees (ICTs).

As a result of the globalisation of business and skills demand, the need for multinational corporations to be able to transfer employees temporarily to another branch or subsidiary has increased.

However, a number of factors currently limit the possibilities for international companies to rely on mobility of third-country national intra-corporate transferees (ICTs): the lack of clear specific schemes, the complexity and diversity of visa or work permit requirements, costs and delays in transferring foreign ICTs from one European corporate headquarters to another and the difficulties with securing family reunification.

Furthermore, progress in EU integration and globalisation has boosted the number of ICTs who move across Member States, resulting in a growing need for intra-EU mobility which is difficult with today's regulations.

This situation is likely to influence the inflows of ICTs into the EU Member States, leading to loss of the potential benefits that they could bring: innovation, enhanced competitiveness of EU entities in overseas markets, reinforcement of the EU position in its relationships with international partners, increase in investment flows.

For the purpose of this Directive, the category of intra-corporate transferees encompasses:

  • managers: person who is working in a senior position, who primarily directs the management of the host entity, receiving general supervision or direction principally from the board of directors or stockholders of the business or equivalent;
  • specialists: person who possesses uncommon knowledge essential and specific to the host entity;
  • trainees: person with a higher education qualification who is transferred to broaden his/her knowledge of and experience in a company in preparation for a managerial position within the company; a higher education qualification must attest the successful completion of a higher education programme of at least three years.

Outline of the proposal

  • Transparent and fast-track entry procedure: a short time (30 days) is allowed to process applications; no labour market test is applied.
  • Single application for a combined work and residence permit
  • Procedural safeguards: possibility of a legal challenge against decisions rejecting an application; requirement for the authorities to give reasons for such decisions.
  • More attractive residence conditions for the families: handling of applications for family reunification in the first State of residence within two months.
  • Enhanced mobility within the EU: the ICT may be allowed to carry out part of the assignment in an entity of the same group located in another Member State, on the basis of the first residence and work permit for a period up to 12 months. The second Member State must be informed of the conditions of this mobility and may require a residence permit if the duration of work exceeds 12 months.
  • Level playing field with EU workers: Intra-corporate transferees benefit from the same working conditions as posted workers whose employer is established on the territory of the European Union: undertakings established in a third country are thereby not given any more favourable treatment than undertakings established in a Member State.
  • Flexible system to take account of Member States' needs: this proposal does not create a right of admission. It is up to the Member States to determine the volumes of admission of third-country nationals entering their territory.
  • Fast-track procedure may be set up for trustworthy groups of undertakings which have been recognised for that purpose: transnational corporations qualify by showing their ability to comply with their obligations and supplying information about the intra-corporate transfers. They thereby benefit from accelerated procedures for the issuance of permits and visas.

Expected benefits

  • Simplification of rules: companies outside the EU would have a common set of rules and requirements to deal with, rather than 27 systems.
  • EU companies would have better and faster access to global talent to meet staffing needs for managers, specialists and graduate trainees.
  • The EU would have a greater pool of skilled staff at its disposal in order to build a knowledge-based and innovative economy and attract investments, thereby creating jobs.
  • The EU economy would benefit from the greater competitiveness of companies operating in the EU.

What happens next?

The proposal will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Member States, who must agree on the text before it becomes law.

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