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Commission launches public consultation on the Professional Qualifications Directive and a European Professional Card

The Commission services have launched a public consultation on the Professional Qualifications Directive (Directive 2005/36/EC).

The consultation is an opportunity for stakeholders to highlight areas of the Directive they feel could be simplified and made more user-friendly.

It also seeks views on how to better integrate professionals working in the Single Market, and raises the option of a European Professional Card.

This Directive is key to enabling professionals to take full advantage of the potential of the Single Market in finding a job or extending their business in another Member State.

Updating this Directive is one of the actions set out in the Single Market Act adopted in October 2010
(IP/10/1390) and follows Commission reports on how the Directive works in practice (IP/10/1367).

The results of the Consultation will feed into an evaluation report and a Green Paper due this autumn. The Commission will come forward with a proposal for modernising the Directive in 2012. Stakeholders are invited to respond until 15 March 2011, and a public hearing is scheduled for 21 February 2011.

The Professional Qualifications Directive covers more than 800 professions which Member States regulate and which can be pursued only if certain professional qualifications have been acquired. A number of professionals in the health sector and architects enjoy automatic recognition of their qualifications based on harmonisation of the respective training conditions throughout the EU.

What is the public consultation about?

The consultation focuses on three key challenges:

1. Further simplification for citizens

The consultation invites stakeholders to assess a number of proposals aimed at minimising the number of problems professionals face when trying to relocate in the EU. One important improvement could be more consistent application of the Directive across the EU by the authorities dealing with it (almost 1 000). Better planning could help address the needs of university students and young graduates who may wish to take up posts and jobs abroad in the future. Further help to relocate professionals could be provided. Finally, efforts could be made to improve the mobility of professionals between a Member State not regulating a profession and a Member State which does regulate this profession (e.g. tourist guides; engineers).

2. The possibility of a European Professional Card

The 2005 Directive offered tools, such as professional cards and common platforms (sets of commonly agreed criteria of professional qualifications were used to reduce differences in training requirements), to professionals and professional organisations to facilitate mobility. These tools have not, however, had the full effect hoped for as they have not been taken up. As a result, the consultation asks stakeholders for their opinion on a European professional card which could make it easier for professionals wanting to work abroad to demonstrate their credentials, would provide more transparency to consumers and employers and enhance confidence between the authorities concerned.

On 10 January 2011, a steering group made up of 32 experts from European associations representing different professions (architects, doctors, engineers, lawyers, mountain guides, midwives, pharmacists, engineers, real estate agents, tourist sector professionals and others) and experts from 10 Member States (notably from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, United Kingdom) will also start to reflect on the issue of a European professional card.

3. How to increase awareness on EU legislation in this area

The 2005 Directive consolidated several systems of automatic recognition, notably for doctors, general care nurses, dentists, midwives, veterinary surgeons, pharmacists, architects, and many activities in the craft and trade sector. The consultation asks stakeholders:

  • to consider the need to modernise the training requirements for these professions.

  • to comment on the need to strengthen cooperation between different national authorities, for example when there are irregularities. An alert mechanism could be introduced when offences like the presentation of false documentation occurs when a professional is seeking recognition of his/her diploma in another Member State.

  • to comment on the scale of problems related to the language skill requirements professionals are required to demonstrate.

What are the next steps?

Stakeholders are invited to respond until 15 March 2011, and a public hearing is scheduled for 21 February 2011. A final evaluation report and a Green Paper will be published in autumn 2011. This will be followed by a legislative proposal for modernising the Directive in 2012.

See also MEMO/11/7

For more detailed information please see also:

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