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EU professional qualifications directive to be modernised
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In a discussion paper published today, the European Commission is seeking opinions on how to modernise the EU's professional qualifications directive.  The legislation allows professionals who want to work in another EU country to have their qualifications recognised.

The Green Paper builds on past achievements while looking to the future and possible new approaches. The paper also seeks input on the rules on language knowledge which have been of particular concern here in the UK in relation to medical healthcare workers.

Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier said "Updating the Professional Qualifications Directive is one of the priorities of the Single Market Act and will help make the European economy more competitive while encouraging growth and job creation. We need to make it easier for professionals to go to where job vacancies exist.

He added: "We will consider a number of important issues during this process including the creation of a professional card for interested professions and improving the training requirements for certain professions." 

Interested parties should submit their comments by 20 September 2011.

The Commission will organise a high level conference on 7 November 2011. A legislative proposal is tentatively scheduled for December 2011.

    EU professional qualifications directive to be modernised

    Enhancing mobility

    The introduction of a professional card closely linked to the Internal Market Information System (IMI) could make it considerably easier for professionals to have their qualifications recognised in another member state. A professional card issued by a recognised body in the professional’s home country could then allow the professional to demonstrate his/her credentials (having the necessary qualifications, being authorised to practise) to consumers, employers and relevant authorities in another member state.

    Comments are sought on how to help people in those professions where there is no automatic recognition, for example by developing sets of commonly agreed criteria for professional qualifications. They could also be used to reduce differences in training requirements.

    The minimum training requirements of certain professions (eg some health professions and architects) could be reformed.  Adjustments to the duration and content of training, as well as changing the requisite language skills for health professions could be necessary. They will not be increased for other professions.

    Clarification of the rules on language knowledge

    A change to the requisite language skills for health professions could be necessary. Currently, the directive requires that any linguistic requirements must be proportionate with respect to the activities of a professional: a distinction in language ability can be drawn, for example, between a doctor undertaking research in a laboratory and one treating patients. The document therefore asks whether a particular case could be made for increasing the language controls on health professionals who treat patients. The paper also suggests considering either building on the existing Code of Conduct by interpreting the directive (and allowing language tests in exceptional circumstances) or amending the existing provisions in the directive.


    The primary aim of this is to make it easier for EU citizens to find work outside their own country. It is one of the twelve "levers for growth" proposed in the Commission’s Single Market Act (IP/11/469).

    Today's paper follows a report on how the Directive works in practice (IP/10/1367) and a first technical-level public consultation launched in January 2011 (IP/11/14). A final evaluation report will be published by the end of June.


    For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.
    Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only.

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    Last update: 22/06/2011  |Top