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New EU rules for students and researchers

Under new draft rules proposed by the European Parliament the EU would offer talented non-EU students and researchers better living and working conditions so as to boost its member states’ long-run competitiveness.

The rules would also clarify entry and residence conditions for foreign trainees, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs.

According to the European Commission the EU spends 0.8% less of its GDP on research and development than the US and 1.5% less than Japan, prompting many of the world’s best researchers and innovators to go there instead of the EU.

The proposed new rules aim to create better conditions to make the EU more attractive to third-country nationals seeking opportunities to do research, study, take part in a student exchange, or do paid or unpaid training, voluntary service or au pairing.

“Other countries in the world are doing a better job than we are in attracting competent and well-qualified workers. We often have complicated bureaucratic procedures (…) we need simplified, clearer rules to make the EU more attractive,” said rapporteur Cecilia Wikström. “More foreign students and international exchanges would boost economic growth, promote innovation, create more jobs in the long term and make our member states more competitive.”

The proposals include the following:

  • After finishing their research or studies, third-country nationals should be entitled to stay in the member state where they studied or did their research for 18 months in order to seek work or set up a firm. The Commission had proposed that this period be limited to 12 months. Researchers’ and students’ family members would also have the right to stay and work for the same period.
  • MEPs suggest a 30-day deadline (compared to the 60 days proposed by the Commission) for member states to accept or refuse applications. They also added a 30-day deadline for deciding on an appeal against a refusal.
  • Member states may require the payment of fees for handling applications. However, these fees should not be so excessive or disproportionate that they hinder the aims of the legislation.

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