Harmonised EU entry and residence rules that will make it easier and more attractive for students and researchers from third countries to study or do research at EU universities were endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday. The new rules also have provisions to clarify and improve conditions for non-EU interns, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs, so as to facilitate cultural exchanges.
An informal agreement on the new rules to attract non-EU students, researchers and interns to the EU was reached with Council in November last year. Thursday's vote on the Civil Liberties Committee's recommendation for second reading brings the new directive one step closer to its final adoption which is scheduled for early May in Strasbourg.
The new rules merge two existing directives (one on students and one on researchers) to ensure that:
• students and researchers will have the right to stay at least nine months after finishing their studies or research in order to look for a job or to set up a business, which should also ensure that Europe benefits from their skills. Today, it is individual EU member states which decide whether students and researchers from third countries may stay on after their studies or research have ended,
• it will be easier for students and researchers to move within the EU during their stay. Under the new rules, they will have to notify only the member state to which they are moving, for example to do a one-semester exchange, instead of having to submit a new visa application and wait for it to be processed, as is the case today. Researchers will also be able to move for longer periods than those currently allowed.
• researchers will have the right to bring their family members with them, also when they move within the EU, and these family members will also have the right to work during their stay in Europe, and
• students will have the right to work at least 15 hours a week
In addition to the rules on students and researchers, the new directive also has provisions for interns and volunteers under the European Volunteer Scheme, who will benefit from uniform conditions to enter Europe and increased protection once there, as well as optional provisions for other volunteers, school pupils and au pairs. This is the first time that third-country au pairs have been included in an EU law.
The final plenary vote is expected to take place in Strasbourg in May. The directive enters into force the day after its publication in the European Official Journal. After that, member states will have 2 years to transpose the new provisions into their national laws.
European Parliament - Press Release 28/04/2016
For further information on the state of play and the development of the proposed directive please click here to access the European Parliament Think Tank's policy briefing.