The EU is considering introducing a US-style green card system to attract immigrants with special skills, a leading commissioner said Tuesday.
Permanent work visas based "on the American model" is one of the options the EU is mulling as it faces a shortage of skilled labor and an aging population, Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini told reporters.
The proposal was part of an initiative to get EU governments to agree on common immigration standards -- a contentious issue in the 25-member bloc.
Frattini said such a step would help the EU's bid to rival the US in competitiveness.
The EU head office argues there is an urgent need to boost the number of immigrants in Europe, despite growing public opposition to immigrants across the continent.
The American model that Frattini proposed would offer a European equivalent to the US green cards, which give immigrants the right to live and work permanently in the US.
The EU proposals would involve targeting skilled immigrant candidates to fill job shortages, a practice already carried out individually by several EU states.