Source AP ©

EU to set up "Blue Card" job program for skilled workers

A U.S.-style 'Green Card' program likely will soon appear in Europe to attract skilled workers to fill ever-increasing gaps across the 27-nation bloc, the EU's top immigration official is expected to launch Europe 's biggest global job advertising blitz on Tuesday.

EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini has been drafting his own European "Blue Card" plan for years, aiming to attract engineers, doctors, nurses and IT workers from Asia, Africa and Latin America to work in Europe.

Frattini has repeatedly urged EU governments to sign up to a common immigrant plan to ensure it can better attract educated migrants so it can compete with other successful migrant-luring programs which have been used for years by the United States, Canada and Australia.

The European Parliament endorsed Frattini's plan last month, backing his idea of a U.S.-style system of permanent work visas for migrants.

Migrants would be able to work and live freely in any of the EU states taking part in the "Blue Card" program.

The European Commission has called for EU action to set up the system arguing the bloc's working-age population will shrink by more than 50 million by 2050, leaving widespread shortages in key sectors.

The EU argues there is an urgent need to boost the number of immigrants in Europe, warning that only a steady influx of newcomers will offset the impact of low birth rates and a graying population.

Germany has already tried to attract high-tech workers due to shortages there, while Britain and the Netherlands have tried to attract nurses and doctors from Africa and Asia.

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