A business lobby group has criticised proposals from the European Commission to help companies transfer non-EU employees within the EU, complaining that they do not provide for the employees’ spouses or partners to receive work permits.
Businesses claim that, as a result, the proposals will not achieve the Commission’s goal of persuading highly skilled foreign workers to move to Europe.
The Permits Foundation, an association backed by more than 40 multinational companies including GlaxoSmithKline, Shell and Unilever, said that current restrictions on the issuance of work permits to partners were “bad for business and bad for the local economy”.
A survey published by the foundation last year found that 60% of employees were unlikely to transfer to a location where it was difficult for their partner to get a work permit.
Kathleen van der Wilk-Carlton, a board member at the foundation, said that the issue was putting the EU at a competitive disadvantage to the United States, which since 2002 has allowed spouses and partners of new transferees to work.
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Currently, only six EU member states (Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK). grant this right.
The Commission published its proposals on intra-corporate transferees on 13 July. They include a 30-day limit for national authorities to supply a transferee with residency and work permits. They would provide social rights for transferees from outside the EU that are equivalent to those granted to EU nationals posted by their companies to another member state.
A spokesperson for Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for home affairs, said that the Commission did not have the legal right to propose harmonised rules on work permits for transferees’ spouses and partners.
This stance is challenged by the foundation, which has said that it will seek amendments to the legislation in the European Parliament and Council of Ministers.