The proposal, which has been presented by the European Commission, will offer a one-track procedure for non-EU citizens to apply for a work permit, which would be valid for up to two-years, but can be renewed thereafter. Those who are granted a blue card will be given a series of rights, such as favourable family unification rules. The proposal also encourages geographic mobility within the EU, between different member states, for those who have been granted a blue card. The legal basis for this proposal is Article 63(3)(a) and (4) of the Treaty of Rome, which states that the Council shall adapt measures on immigration policy concerning “conditions of entry and residence and standards on procedures for the issue by Member States” and measures “defining the rights and conditions under which nationals of third countries who are legally resident in a Member State may reside in other Member States”.
The blue card proposal was presented at a press conference in Strasbourg on the 23rd of October, 2007, by the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security Franco Frattini. Barroso motivated the proposal with the EU’s future lack of labour and skills, the difficulty for third country workers to move between different member states for work purposes, the conflicting admission procedures for the 27 different member states, and the "rights gap" between EU citizens and legal immigrants. The proposal was presented along with another proposal, COM(2007)638, which includes a simplified application procedure and a common set of rights for legal third-country workers.
Shortly after the proposal was presented, it received heavy criticism. South African Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang pointed to the fact that several African countries already suffer from the migration of skilled health workers and said that this proposal might worsen the situation. Moroccan international economic law professor Tajeddine El Husseini went further, saying that this "is a new form of colonisation, of discrimination, and it will be very hard to find support for it among southern countries".