Chapter 4. Conclusion: rethinking the EoI for European challenges

This chapter presents the conclusions of the analysis over prospects for adaptation of the EoI system to manage migration in the European Union.


In New Zealand, Australia and Canada, the main reasons for adopting an EoI were to manage caseloads and improve responsiveness of skilled migration systems in a context of backlog and delay. These are not the main reasons for considering adoption of an EoI in the European context. For Europe, an EoI would be meant to improve the quality of matching and ensure access to skills by the full range of European actors, attracting more talent and leveraging the scale and depth of the European labour market.

The overview of scenarios and the design choices necessary to implement an EoI-type system at the European level indicate the enormous complexity of creating such a system and the many individual components, from recognition of qualifications to regulation of employment agencies, which need to be taken into account. Moreover, where EoI systems are in place, they have built upon existing migration and employment management systems, in much simpler and coherent legislative and institutional contexts than what is found in today’s European Union.

The basic option laid down in the first scenario amounts to the creation of an EU-wide pooling and matching mechanism for highly-skilled migration candidates. This clearly has the flexibility and capacity to serve different existing labour migration streams, both EU and national, at the same time or separately, without requiring legislative changes. The pre-screening, pooling and matching mechanism of the first scenario promises to help reducing the stubborn information barriers and costs which currently hamper international recruitment in Europe, and thus level the playing ground for international hiring.

The second scenario is an enhanced version of the first option, which creates a pooling and matching mechanism for international recruitment in a given target sector, thus allowing for upfront pre-screening of candidates’ actual professional qualifications, and for the implementation of a comprehensive ranking system on the model of the Canadian CRS. The establishment of roasters of candidates would also be possible under this scenario. This scenario bears the potential to facilitate employment mobility for pool candidates in the Internal Market, provided that foreign professional qualifications recognized in one member state would be considered valid in each other member state. A skills development component could also be added to this scenario, which could effectively serve skills mobility partnerships.

The third scenario allows mechanisms to leverage existing skilled migration to the EU and to increase the potential of mobility provisions. It moves towards a full-fledged two-step migration management mechanism with a central authority entrusted with the issuance of invitations to apply for immigration, as in the original EoI model. For this to happen, the EoI would have to become mandatory for admission under an EU-wide labour migration scheme, be this the EU Blue Card, a new supply-driven permit which would have to be agreed upon by member states, or a visa which would allow for intra-EU mobility and for smooth permit issuance to those holders who would be able to secure a job offer in any member state.

Overall, the scenarios add an enhanced mechanism to reduce information barriers and facilitate employment matching in international recruitment, where there is currently a gap. In the absence of a supply-driven migration scheme this function is performed by the pooling and matching elements of the EoI, if with different degrees of complexity. Coupling a supply-driven scheme with pre-screening and pooling features of the EoI system would afford an additional step to overcome labour market information barriers, by also allowing for in-person contact between the migration candidate and the prospective employer. This solution naturally suits the third scenario. However, the first and second scenario could also be implemented in combination with a supply-driven scheme, provided member states’ agreement on the conditions for issuing the job-search permit or visa to certain pool candidates.

Given the complexity of the EU legal migration competence framework and the current reluctance of Member States to make big leaps forward in this area, the first and second scenarios seem the most realistically actionable in the medium term as they do not involve major policy and legislative changes. However, for the second scenario to function beyond unregulated sectors or sectors where professional regulation is industry-led internationally, member states – and, crucially, competent regulatory bodies in each of them – would have to agree on the portability of qualifications recognition decisions for third-country nationals throughout the EU. Prospects for such an agreement are scarce.

While more actionable, the first scenario still adds an administrative step for interested migration candidates and involves substantial efforts, and political capital at the EU level to build and manage the necessary infrastructure for the EoI-type of system to function effectively. Hence, the pre-screening, pooling and matching mechanisms would have to be designed and implemented in a way as to bring added value to the users, compared to existing tools.

The implementation of the basic scenario, with the matching platform at its core, would also allow experimentation of settings and infrastructure necessary for integrating the platform into a migration management system. This experimentation and evaluation is necessary in order to create an effective policy feedback loop.

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