Trade deal allows Chinese staff to work in EU for 3 years

Seconded specialists will be able to work in Europe for three years.

Trade deal allows Chinese staff to work in EU for 3 years

The EU-China investment agreement will make it easier to bring Chinese staff into the European Union, where they will be able to work for up to three years in subsidiaries of Chinese companies, according to a text of the agreement obtained by POLITICO.

Brussels struck a political deal on an investment accord with Beijing at the end of last year, but many members of the European Parliament oppose ratifying it because of China’s increasingly authoritarian approach to both pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and the Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

Labor could also prove a contentious component of the deal, as China’s investments across the world over recent years have sparked hostility because of the number of Chinese workers used on projects.

The European deal allows Chinese workers to come to the EU in two cases: First, if they are specialists, such as engineers or coders, or second, if they are responsible for establishing a new investment in Europe.

“The permissible length of stay shall be for a period of up to ninety days in any twelve month period for business visitors for establishment purposes, and up to three years for managers and specialists,” the agreement reads.

That means specialists can work in Europe for three years, if they are “intra-corporate transferees” in companies that belong to the same group. “Intra-corporate transferees mean natural persons … who are temporarily transferred to an enterprise that may be a subsidiary branch or head company of the juridical person,” the deal states.

This should make life easier for Chinese businesses as workers currently need to run through occasionally tricky visa hoops. While Europe’s China-born population has grown to more than 1 million, according to data cited by the U.S. Census bureau, the numbers in Europe remain modest when compared with Chinese communities in the U.S. and other parts of Asia.

Under the terms of the deal, Chinese business visitors can only stay for 90 days per year. “For the purpose of this article business visitors for establishment purposes mean natural persons working in senior positions who are responsible for setting up an enterprise,” the text reads.

Two EU officials confirmed that this wording corresponded to the last version they received from the Commission.

“In practice this means a Chinese company operating in Europe can fill all its jobs with Chinese specialists, except the janitor,” said one.

Crucially, EU governments will not be allowed to impose quotas or other limits on the number of such specialized workers that come into their country.

A “party shall not maintain or adopt … restrictions … on the total number of natural persons that in a specific sector are allowed entry as business visitors … or that an investor may employ as intra-corporate transferees in a specific sector in the form of numerical quotas or economic needs tests either on the basis of a territorial sub-division or on the basis of its entire territory.”

It adds that “each party shall accord to intra-corporate transferees and business visitors … national treatment with regard to their temporary stay” in their territory.

A spokesperson for the European Commission confirmed that “provisions on business visitors and intra-corporate transferees apply to all sectors,” but insisted that the EU would not be opening its market to “labor dumping,” arguing Chinese specialists would have to comply with all local EU rules.

“[The investment deal’s] provisions on intra-corporate transferees do not apply when their temporary presence in the EU aims at circumventing labor disputes or negotiations, and member states may require them to demonstrate that they possess the professional qualifications and experience needed in the company to which they are transferred,” the spokesperson said.

Want more analysis from POLITICO? POLITICO Pro is our premium intelligence service for professionals. From financial services to trade, technology, cybersecurity and more, Pro delivers real time intelligence, deep insight and breaking scoops you need to keep one step ahead. Email pro@politico.eu to request a complimentary trial.

Source : Politico EU More