The European Commission and the Blue Card Directive: Supranational policy entrepreneurship in troubled waters

Sidonie Paris


Labour immigration has traditionally been a highly contentious issue and therefore, one of the least developed areas of EU migration policy. This article explores the entrepreneurship of the European Commission over a ten-year period, which ultimately led to the adoption of the so-called ‘Blue Card Directive’ on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for economic reasons (2009/50/EC). It does so by utilising John W. Kingdon’s three stream conceptual framework, which was initially developed within the context of US politics (2014, originally published in 1984). Despite firm resistance from the part of certain member states and the unanimity voting rule regarding legal migration matters under the Amsterdam Treaty, this article demonstrates how the Commission managed to somehow navigate troubled waters. Drawing on primary European institution sources, academic works, as well as interviews with EU officials and think tank representatives, it is argued that the Commission was a key entrepreneur in the case of the Blue Card Directive, capable of genuine adaptation and tenacity. By depicting the European Commission as a supranational policy entrepreneur, which managed to anchor the subject of highly skilled immigration in the EU political agenda, the present contribution departs from works stressing the weakness of the European Commission vis-à-vis member states.


European Commission; highly-skilled immigration policy; Blue Card Directive; policy entrepreneur

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