Swedish Presidency for the Council of the EU

As our Prime Minister said, the very foundation of the EU was to live in peaceful coexistence between neighbors. Freedom and trade followed in order to intertwine ourselves so much that we needed to stay friends.

Safety and freedom are very much still top of mind. What is interesting from our immigration and entrepreneurial perspective are the initiatives taken within the EU Council to make Europe more attractive to foreign talent and harmonize some of the terms of employment, immigration practices, and facilitating work mobility across borders between the EU member states.

EU countries have similar demographics, aging populations, and a great need to digitize our corporations and not least the public sector which became evident during the pandemic. In addition, we need healthcare workers, and to staff up the hospitality sector. Not only high-skilled labor is needed and a test EU talent pool attracting workers from Tunisia, Morocco, and Alger is one initiative to manage the agricultural sector for instance.

Europe is losing the edge against the US, The UK, and Canada (English-speaking countries), and to stay abreast in innovation, and green climate initiatives, we need to be able to attract talent to the EU and Sweden.  

In addition, a concern within the EU is that to safeguard the dynamic forces and to encourage growth over-regulation must be deterred.  A competitive EU is essential for growth and welfare. These days the Best and the Brightest (BnB in immigration terms) are welcome everywhere, but not everyone is a shining star but can still be instrumental in creating success nevertheless.

Excellent work permit routes into the EU are something most countries have looked closely at in recent years, the war for talent is evident for all the talent acquisition professionals in Europe. It’s also clear that there’s a skills shortage in all countries and across all industries.

So EU member stats say that the EU must capitalize on the dynamic forces residing in successful companies, not obstruct them with over-regulation. This will allow European companies to continue to hold their own in global competition.

It seems that politicians are clear on what is needed. Many believe that opening up borders is one very important factor in manning industries, in this respect, Sweden is not moving in tandem with the rest of Europe. Quite the opposite, we can only hope that Swedish politicians will be inspired by their European counterparts and that the new permits and regulations will help Swedish companies find skills and fill open positions.

Several amendments will be made to a number of permit types in Sweden, two of them are based on EU directives and therefore it will be interesting to see how much the basics can veer from the original. The permit is the EU Blue Card where Sweden has increased the salary level while Germany is lowering it. Another permit under consideration by Sweden is the ICT permit where Sweden would like more control, not least in reviewing the terms more closely, which is absolutely possible at Nimmersion we have always done it. Seemingly, true or false, others don’t scrutinize Japanese insurance papers. 

Each permit type may see upcoming changes in the requirements. While the EU Blue card and the ICT permit both stipulate a timeline for processing that is 90 days versus the (previously) 10 days in the fast track neither permit has been the preferred option for companies in the past. When the Migration Agency timelines became severely long in 2022 suddenly 90 days seemed like a better alternative. There was an increase in the ICT and EU BC and more case officers had to be hired to handle them. 

The clear message from companies is that the time it takes to a decision is crucial.  When the regular work permits took 10 days there was no need to opt for the other two visas. The added cost of medical insurance, now also required to be signed up for before the permit is approved, is a testament to the fact that these talents are needed on the ground quickly and companies will pay the cost for that. 

Hopefully, the discussion of timelines for approval will be a prominent one. The EU Directive 2011/28/EU stipulates that a work permit process INCLUDING the labor market test may not exceed four months although many stake holders mean that 4 weeks is the painpoint for a process to be deemed reasonable. 

Currently, the labor market test is done in Sweden on each offer of employment given to a third country national. Typically they will turn it around in ten days, some unions are faster others slower. It will be excellent to see shortened timelines again, perhaps thanks to the EU directives. 

Nimmersion stays abreast on the changes, we can anticiapte esome that already seems to be beta-tested and asked for although not yet implemented. We brief our clients with current cases regularly via our NewsAlerts.