Startup Visa: A strategic measure for Europe’s competitiveness

February 8, 2024
Startup Visa

By Agata C. Hidalgo, European Affairs Lead of France Digitale, and Antoine Latran, European Affairs Coordinator of France Digitale

Recruitment is the number one challenge for startups in Europe: not only do they face a shortage of profiles at all levels of seniority, but they are also in direct competition with leading companies, like US and Asian tech giants, who can offer higher salaries. The difficulty of growing teams at key times of company development can seriously hamper the chances of success and the competitiveness of European startups.

The European Commission estimates at 20 million the number of new information and communication technologies specialists needed by 2030. These talents shall also be constantly re-skilled so as to follow the progress of the green and digital technologies.

With the European elections of June 2024, the new European Commission will have a unique opportunity to put the education, attraction and retention of talents on top of the agenda. In the long term, we’ll need to better anticipate the skills gaps and adapt vocational training accordingly. In the short term, however, to address the talent shortage we need to attract talents to the EU by making the legal migration of high-skilled individuals easier.

The EU’s Blue Card is an important step in the right direction, as it allows third-country professionals to move from the Member State where they were hired to another EU country. However, there is still room for improvement when it comes to visas.

As highlighted in the Startup Nation Standard, startups would particularly benefit from a fast track visa scheme to attract candidates from abroad. Several such visa schemes already exist in Europe but are not harmonized, making recruitment by startups active across multiple Member States difficult.

In some countries, for example, companies can only provide the visa to professionals above a certain salary level, while in others it is enough for the hiring company to show it is innovative, which can be demonstrated by their membership to a startup association. This divergence also leads to inequality of salary and benefits across employees of the same company based in different locations, which makes hiring and retaining those talents more difficult. On top of that, the delays to effectively obtain the visas vary across and within countries, making the process long and uncertain.

To be European from day one, startups need consistent visa schemes across the EU. Concretely, this means harmonized criteria to access the scheme as well as standardized and foreseeable delays to have an answer to the request, ideally no longer than 1 month.

The next 5 years will be crucial to secure Europe’s competitiveness on the global stage: the EU can and should pick up the challenge to become the most attractive continent for the world’s best talents.

✉️ Any burning questions or comments? Feel free to reach out to [email protected].

🇫🇷 France Digitale, an Allied For Startups Member, is an organisation gathering startups and investors to defend innovation in France and in Europe, with the ultimate mission to bring out European digital champions.

🔗 https://francedigitale.org