EC consults on ways to modernise the Professional Qualifications Directive

The European Commission launched in 7 January 2010 a public consultation on the Professional Qualifications Directive, an opportunity for stakeholders to highlight areas of the Directive they feel could be improved, seeking views on how to better integrate professionals working in the Single Market, and raises the option of a European Professional Card. The results of the Consultation will feed into an evaluation report and a Green Paper due this autumn prior to Commission's proposal for modernising the Directive in 2012.

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. 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. As an example, 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.

Updating Professional Qualifications Directive is one of the actions set out in the Single Market Act adopted in October 2010 and follows Commission reports on how the Directive works in practice also put forward in October. The Public Consultation on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive will help to address these challeges.

Key issues on Professional Qualifications Directive Public Consultation

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, such as more consistent application of the Directive across the EU by the authorities dealing with it, better planning to help address the needs of university students and young graduates, further help to relocate professionals could be provided, as well as the improvement of professionals mobility between a Member State not regulating a profession and a Member State which does regulate this profession (e.g. tourist guides; engineers).

The possibility of a European Professional Card

Tools such as professional cards and common platforms have not had the full effect hoped for with the adoption of the Directive 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, an initiative which would be strongly related to the European Skills Passport part of the EU Agenda for New Skills and Jobs recently put forward by the Commission. On 10 January 2011 a steering group made up of 32 experts from European associations representing different professions and experts from 10 Member States will also start to reflect on the issue of a European professional card.

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

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.