Saturday 23 October 2010

EU free movement of persons and services: Have qualifications, will travel?

The EU Commission has published a report on how things turn out in practice for mobile professionals: Internal Market: Commission publishes reports on how Professional Qualifications Directive works in practice (22 October 2010, press release IP/10/1367; available in English, French and German).

The press release highlights a number of problems the European Commission describes as issues which deserve ‘further consideration’:

- Training requirements: the Directive provides for minimum training requirements for certain health professions (doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives, pharmacists) and veterinary surgeons which sometimes date back more than 30 years. A considerable number of authorities consider that these requirements should be reviewed; nearly all competent authorities for the professions concerned welcome the system of automatic recognition of the qualifications in question.

- Language knowledge for health professionals: persons benefiting from the recognition of their qualifications should have the necessary language knowledge for practising their profession in the host Member State.

- Automatic recognition in the areas of craft, trade and industry: there is a call for examining the rules in question which date back to the 1960s (in particular, for updating the list of activities).

- Electronic applications: the reports reveal that, generally, the recognition procedures cannot be fully completed by electronic means.

- Administrative cooperation which is built on the Internal Market Information System (IMI) is quite promising. A proactive alert mechanism ensuring prompt information exchange between national authorities on cases of professional malpractice (for all cases not yet covered under the Services Directive, in particular for health professionals) needs to be considered.

Professional qualifications

The internal market service of the European Commission offers a first page on Professional qualifications, with links to more detailed texts: news, Directive 2005/36/EC, evaluation of the directive, database on regulated professions, group of coordinators, regulatory committee, general system, specific sectors (health professionals and architects), infringements and judgments of Court of Justice, useful links, archives, and contact & help. If you encounter problems, there is also a link to the Citizens Signpost Service, now Your Europe Advice. Your Europe is a helpful resource with regard to other cross-border problems as well.

Evaluation of the Directive is the page for you, if you want first-hand knowledge about the reports from the Commission. The web pages about professional qualifications exist in English, French and German, but the reports in English only.

Directive 2005/36

We generally speak about European Union legislation, even if it would be more exact to refer to the European Economic Area (EEA), as a reminder that the directives are in force in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as well. Adoption is implied by the words ‘Text with EEA relevance’ after the name of a directive.

A few legal acts and corrections have modified Directive 2005/36, so the link is to the consolidated (updated) version of 27 April 2009:

DIRECTIVE 2005/36/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications

The directive, including seven annexes, runs to 148 pages, but in its day it combined fifteen separate directives into one legal act. The Directive 2005/36 is a corner stone for the free provision of services and the free movement of persons in the internal market.

Next steps

The Commission intends to consult the public (stakeholders), publish a final evaluation report next autumn (2011) and prepare a Green Paper on possible amendments (by 2012).

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Adjudicating Europe – Judicial developments in European law – has returned to active blogging in October, through two blog posts by ‘Cartesio’, both dealing with cases in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Hopefully the offer will begin to catch up with the demand for expert comment on EU case law.

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