This article critically assesses EU harmonisation in the field of labour immigration. It argues that EU directives are limited both in scope and intensity which explains their relatively low effectiveness and added value. Given the current political and institutional context, the article claims that a truly common labour immigration policy is unrealistic. Labour immigration remains a predominantly national prerogative and EU rules have done little to overcome normative competition between EU Member States. Looking forward, the EU should adopt complementary measures to Member States’ policies. The role of the EU in this sensitive policy area should be better defined and justified, in particular in relation to the principle of subsidiarity.