The European professional card (EPC) is available from 18 January 2016 for five professions (general care nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, real estate agents and mountain guides). It might be extended to other professions in the future.
The EPC is not a plastic card, but an electronic certificate issued via the first EU-wide fully online procedure for the recognition of qualifications. This digital procedure is based on the well-established Internal Market Information System (IMI) and allows professionals to communicate with the relevant authorities inside a secure network. The IMI also provides for an official, multilingual communication channel between the regulating authorities for professionals in EU countries to facilitate their cooperation and enhance mutual trust.
The EPC does not replace the 'traditional' recognition procedures under the Professional Qualifications Directive, but it does offer an advantageous option for professionals who wish to work either temporarily or permanently in another EU country.
To ensure that EU patients and consumers are adequately protected, the Commission has also introduced an Alert Mechanism. The Competent Authorities of EU countries are required to quickly warn each other through the IMI of professionals in the health and education of minors sectors who:
On 24 June 2015, the European Commission adopted the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/983 on the procedure for issuance of the European Professional Card and the application of the alert mechanism pursuant to the Professional Qualifications Directive. Since January 2016, the EPC is available for nurses responsible for general care, pharmacists, physiotherapists, mountain guides and real estate agents.
In 2014, the Commission launched a public consultation on introducing the EPC for seven professions (nurses, doctors, pharmacists, physiotherapists, engineers, mountain guides and real estate agents). The aim of the consultation was to:
The Focus Group on the EPC aims to assess its suitability for a given profession and its impact on EU countries. The Group contributes to the analysis of whether a given profession fulfils the introduction criteria for the card and plays a role in discussions regarding the functioning of the card.
Meeting reports of the Focus Group on the EPC:
In 2013, the Commission invited professional organisations and associations to express an interest in the introduction of the EPC for their respective professions.
An expert group to discuss the launch of the EPC was set up in 2011. The Group comprised representatives of national administrations of EU countries, authorities and professional organisations. The Group held six meetings and produced case studies and working documents: