Only six Member States meet researcher visa deadline

The European Commission has warned that infringement proceedings could follow after only six EU Member States transposed legislation on the researchers’ visa into national legislation.

Friday 12 October was the deadline for making the 2005 Directive national law. By that date, only Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Portugal and Romania had complied fully. A further four
Member States (France, Latvia, Lithuania and the Slovak Republic) had notified the Commission of partial implementation.

The Directive is intended to allow third country nationals into the EU in order to conduct scientific research. The Commission is now entitled to take steps to open infringement proceedings
against those Member States that have not yet notified the Commission of the Directive’s implementation, as well as those who have given notification of partial implementation only.

‘I urge those Member States who have not yet transposed this Directive to adopt the necessary legislation and administrative procedures without delay,’ said Justice, Freedom and Security
Commissioner Franco Frattini. ‘Political commitment by these Member States to better attract and retain high quality research talent in Europe has not yet been mirrored by a concrete engagement
in setting up the necessary rules and procedures coherent with this goal,’ he added.

Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik urged the Member States to ‘honour their commitment to create a system for scientists from outside the EU who want to carry out their research
here. If Europe is to be a world leader in science, then it must be open to the world,’ he said. He noted that the current system can be ‘off-putting’ for scientists from abroad who would like
to work with their European counterparts.

The Directive works by allowing for the fast-tracking of visa procedures for researchers. Accredited research organisations will certify the status of the visa applicant. They will also verify
the existence of a genuine research project, as well as the possession by the researcher of the necessary scientific skills, sufficient resources and health insurance. Once a permit is granted,
the researcher will be able to move between the EU countries that have signed up to the Schengen agreement, plus Ireland. The Schengen agreement provides for the abolition of systematic border
controls.

The decision allowing researchers from third countries to work in the Union was agreed by the Justice and Home Affairs Council in the summer of 2004. At the time, the Commission welcomed the
decision, but was disappointed that the instrument approved by the Commission was not as far-reaching as the original proposal. The Commission would have liked to see more provisions for
researchers’ families, as splitting families often acts as a deterrent to mobility.

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