CC 2.0 Flickr / BWJones
The EU is facing important structural challenges. Despite the economic downturn and rising unemployment levels, many EU member states still struggle to fill many skilled labour positions. There is evidence that this struggle is going to persist during the decade ahead for both economic and demographic reasons.
One of the problems is that the EU is not able to attract the workforce it needs while other countries worldwide are doing much better when it comes to making it more appealing for these talents to join them at the earlier stage of university studies and research projects. It is therefore in the EU's own interest to become more attractive for foreign students and researchers and to increase its appeal as a world centre for excellence.
Moving to Europe temporarily is an opportunity embraced by over 200,000 students and researchers from outside the EU every year. However, far too many of them have to face unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. Current rules for obtaining a student visa or a residence permit are often complex and unclear; procedures can be lengthy and vary considerably across member states and moving from one member state to another can be very difficult or even impossible.
The directive proposed by the Commission in March 2013 (which will modify and replace the current directives on students and researchers) aims to make it easier and more attractive for non-EU national students, researchers and other groups to enter and stay in the EU for periods exceeding three months.
The new directive sets clearer time limits for national authorities to decide on applications, and encourages member states to provide for more opportunities to access the labour market during the students' stays and facilitate intra-EU movement.