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Agreement on Single Permit Directive will help improve working conditions and provide more safe and legal routes for migrants


20 Dec 2023


Global Europe

The European Parliament, under the leadership of the Socialists and Democrats, and the EU Council, headed by the Spanish presidency, have reached an agreement on revising the Single Permit Directive. The S&D Group led the negotiations on behalf of the European Parliament for revised rules to improve working conditions of third-country workers and help deal with labour market shortages in the EU. For the Socialists and Democrats, attracting migrant workers from outside the EU through fair and legal means is an important way to help Europe deal with demographic change and labour market challenges and address challenges around irregular migration. The agreement will be adopted in the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs and will be voted on during a plenary session in 2024. 

Javier Moreno Sánchez, S&D MEP and rapporteur on the Single Permit Directive, said: 

“Today's agreement on reforming the Single Permit Directive is great news, especially in a week that marks International Migrants Day. Our agreement shows the EU is capable of delivering more safe and legal routes for migrants and this is the most effective way to deal with irregular migration. Due to labour force shortages, European companies need to attract workers from outside the EU. However, we cannot allow workers' rights and working conditions to be undermined in the process. We are taking action to stop employers bending or breaking the rules, and now we have specific measures in place to fight abusive practices and improve working conditions of third-country workers.” 

Agnes Jongerius, S&D MEP and spokesperson for the employment and social affairs committee, said: 

“Unfortunately, in reality, often employers are mainly interested in reducing their labour costs. In fact, we accept hundreds of thousands of people to be employed under working conditions that we would not find acceptable for ourselves. Third-country workers should be explicitly given the same rights as EU workers.” 

Main achievements for the S&D Group in the reform of the Single Permit Directive include: 

  • The directive limits the processing time for a decision on single permit applications to 90 days;
  • Single permit holders now have the right to change employer;
  • If a single permit holder finds themselves unemployed, the permit will not be withdrawn for at least three months, or at least six months if they have been working for more than two years;
  • Where a permit holder has been victim to exploitative working conditions, member states need to extend the rights of the permit holder for an additional three months.

Eurostat (2022) estimated that by 2070, the size of the EU’s working age population would go from about 65% to between 56% and 54% of the total EU population.


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