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System for the recognition of professional qualifications

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System for the recognition of professional qualifications

The directive sets up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications in the European Union (EU), which also extends, under certain conditions, to the other European Economic Area (EEA) countries and to Switzerland. It seeks to make labour markets more flexible, further liberalise services, encourage the automatic recognition of qualifications and simplify administrative procedures.

ACT

Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications

SUMMARY

The directive sets up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications in the European Union (EU), which also extends, under certain conditions, to the other European Economic Area (EEA) countries and to Switzerland. It seeks to make labour markets more flexible, further liberalise services, encourage the automatic recognition of qualifications and simplify administrative procedures.

WHAT DOES THIS DIRECTIVE DO?

It lays down rules on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications between the EU, non-EU EEA countries and Switzerland.

It introduced a mutual evaluation of national professional regulations and a transparency exercise (i.e. screening the entry restrictions to professions and analysing their necessity).

It applies to all nationals of EU and non-EU EEA countries and Switzerland wishing to pursue a regulated profession, either on a self-employed or an employed basis, in a country other than that where they obtained their professional qualifications.

The European Commission has published an interactive map of the regulated professions in Europe. These are professions to which access, or the right to practice, is conditional upon having specific qualifications. They also include professions for which the use of a specific title is protected, such as chartered engineer in the UK.

It does not apply to matters covered by specific directives such as Directive 2006/43/EC on statutory auditors. Another example relates to lawyers. While their qualifications are covered by Directive 2005/36/EC, they also benefit from 2 specific directives (77/249/EEC and 98/5/EC) which introduce additional ways for them to provide cross-border services, either temporarily or by establishing themselves permanently in other EU countries.

KEY POINTS

Temporary mobility

If professionals want to provide their services in another EU country on a temporary basis, in principle they can do so on the basis of their establishment (i.e. their right to practice) in their home country. The country of destination might require from them a prior declaration but they do not have to go through the recognition procedures. This does not apply to professions that have public health and safety implications, for which EU countries may require prior recognition of their qualification.

Permanent establishment

The directive provides for 3 qualification recognition systems:

1.

automatic recognition for professions whose minimum training conditions are harmonised at European level: doctors, nurses responsible for general care, dentists, veterinary surgeons, midwives, pharmacists and architects;

2.

automatic recognition for certain occupations: professionals in crafts, trades and industry can request automatic recognition of their qualifications based on their professional experience;

3.

the general system for the above-mentioned professions which do not fulfil conditions for the automatic recognition regime is based on the principle of mutual recognition of qualifications. The same applies to the other regulated professions, access to which is granted to any individual who can demonstrate that he or she is fully qualified in their home country. However, if the authorities of the host country find significant differences between the training acquired in the country of origin and that required for the same activity in their country, they can require the individual to undertake an adaptation period or an aptitude test, in principle at the choice of the individual.

European professional card (EPC)

The directive was amended by Directive 2013/55/EU (applicable in EU countries from 18 January 2016) which provides for the creation of a European professional card. This will allow interested citizens to obtain recognition of their qualifications more simply and rapidly through a standardised electronic procedure. The card will be based on the use of the internal market information system (IMI) and will be issued in the form of an electronic certificate. The EPC will be implemented in the first wave for nurses responsible for general care, physiotherapists, pharmacists, mountain guides and real estate agents.

The 2013 directive also allows all citizens seeking the recognition of their professional qualifications to be able to deal with a single point of contact.

WHEN DID THE DIRECTIVE ENTER INTO FORCE AND WHAT IS THE TRANSPOSITION PERIOD?

Directive 2005/36/EC entered into force on 20 October 2005 and had to be transposed by 20 October 2007. The latest amendments introduced by Directive 2013/55/EU entered into force on 17 January 2014, the transposition deadline being 18 January 2016.

BACKGROUND

As the population of working age falls in many EU countries, demand for highly qualified people is likely to increase and is projected to rise to more than 16 million jobs by 2020. This requires that their qualifications are recognised throughout the EU in a fast, simple and reliable way.

For more information, see automatic recognition on the European Commission’s website.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2005/36/EC

20.10.2005

20.10.2007

OJ L 255 of 30.9.2005, pp. 22-142

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2006/100/EC

1.1.2007

1.1.2007

OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006, pp. 141-237

Regulation (EC) No 1430/2007

26.12.2007

-

OJ L 320 of 6.12.2007, pp. 3-11

Regulation (EC) No 755/2008

21.8.2008

-

OJ L 205 of 1.8.2008, pp. 10-12

Regulation (EC) No 279/2009

27.4.2009

-

OJ L 93 of 7.4.2009, pp. 11-12

Regulation (EU) No 213/2011

24.3.2011

-

OJ L 59 of 4.3.2011, pp. 4-7

Regulation (EU) No 623/2012

1.8.2012

-

OJ L 180 of 12.7.2012, pp. 9-11

Directive 2013/25/EU

1.7.2013

1.7.2013

OJ L 158 of 10.6.2013, pp. 368-375

Directive 2013/55/EU

17.1.2014

18.1.2016

OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, pp. 132-170

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2005/36/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.

RELATED ACTS

Council Directive 77/249/EEC of 22 March 1977 to facilitate the effective exercise by lawyers of freedom to provide services (OJ L 78, 26.3.1977, pp. 17-18)

Directive 98/5/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 1998 to facilitate practice of the profession of lawyer on a permanent basis in a Member State other than that in which the qualification was obtained (OJ L 77, 14.3.1998, pp. 36-43)

Commission Decision 2007/172/EC of 19 March 2007 setting up the group of coordinators for the recognition of professional qualifications (OJ L 79 of 20.3.2007, pp. 38-39)

Last updated: 17.08.2015

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