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Skilled migration and development: from negative “ethical recruitment” to equal opportunity policies

Speranta Dumitru
Paris Descartes University
Speranta Dumitru
Paris Descartes University
Open Panel

Abstract

The recent EU policy on highly-skilled migration can be analysed as a compromise with the “brain drain” critiques. As a matter of fact, the aim of the Blue Card Directive (2009/50/EC) is to encourage immigration of highly qualified workers from third countries, by harmonizing and simplifying admission procedures and by granting better conditions of residence (i.e. mobility within EU and family reunification). However, these incentives, whatever their force, have been weakened by the EU legislator. Thus, obtaining a Blue Card is not only conditioned by having a work contract at a high level of salary (min. 1, 5 times the average salary in the Member State), but can be prohibited in sectors suffering from a lack of professionals in the countries of origin. This ban comes within what the Directive calls an “ethical recruitment” policy. This paper distinguishes between two meanings of an “ethical” recruitment – negative (refraining from doing something) and positive (undertaking an affirmative action) – and shows that the negative meaning endorsed by the recent Directive is inspired by an earlier stage of the “brain drain” debate. The paper has three parts. Firstly, it reminds the main stages of the “brain drain” debate and characterises its four ethical commitments: prioritarianism, nationalism, sedentarism (Dumitru, 2009) and elitism (Williams & Balaz, 2008). Secondly, looking at the link between recruitment policies and prioritarian concerns, we observe a positive “ethical recruitment” prevailing within EU (equal opportunity ofr disadvantaged groups) which lacks with regard to developing countries. Thirdly, an example of positive ethical recruitment in the international migration context can be inspired by the positive correlation established between skills and discrimination of migrant women (OECD, 2006): a policy of active recruitment of highly-skilled women can yield a “prospect effect” (Kapur & McHale, 2005) and be development-friendly.