The EU seeks to build a comprehensive immigration policy in which legally residing non-EU nationals, referred to as third-country nationals (TCNs), should be treated fairly and in a non-discriminatory manner. The EU has adopted secondary legislation covering different categories of TCNs and various stages of the migration process. However, a number of gaps and barriers can still be identified. These concern notably the lack of incorporation and implementation of international and EU human rights and labour standards. Furthermore, they stem from the sectoral approach taken in the EU legal framework, not covering all TCNs and not in the same way, and in part leaving parallel national schemes in place. Different treatment between TCNs and further barriers result in differences in their employment rate, over-qualification, lower job quality, lower earnings and poorer long-term integration outcomes. At societal level, these deficiencies undermine the EU’s ability to attract workers, to tackle EU labour market shortages in specific sectors or occupations, to address demographic changes (an ageing population), and to boost innovation and growth. Further EU action in this area could address these gaps by better implementing and enforcing existing standards, gradually extending the EU legislation to include other sectors, or revisiting the idea of adopting a binding immigration code covering all TCNs. Depending on the policy option pursued, some €21.75 billion in individual and economic benefits could be achieved each year.
This project was awarded under the Framework service contract for provision of external expertise in the fields of impact assessment and European added value: Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Women’s Rights and Petitions (Lot 6) (IP/G/ALL/FAC/2013-002/Lot 6/C5) with the European Parliament, DG for Internal Policies of the Union. The full list of CEPS’ Framework Contracts is available here.