Following two rounds of consultations and a public stakeholder conference in early November, the European Commission adopted a proposal for modernising the Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC) on 19 December 2011.
The proposal by the Commission, which builds on the Green Paper released in the summer of 2011 (see the EPHA response to the Green Paper on the Modernisation of the Professional Qualifications Directive) and further comments received at the post-consultation conference aims at simplifying the rules for the mobility of skilled professionals within the EU, in the hope that this will stimulate the Single Market. Largely in line with EPHA’s position (see also EPHA’s response to the first round of the consultation) , the proposal will hopefully alleviate a number of concerns brought forward, e.g. related to administrative cooperation, language proficiency tests, minimum training requirements and handling professional malpractice.
The key elements of the proposal are the following:
1. The introduction of a European professional card , taking the form of an electronic certificate, to interested professionals. It offers the possibility of easier and quicker recognition of qualifications for professionals wishing to provide services or become established in another Member State, and of facilitating temporary mobility. It will be made available according to the needs expressed by the professions and will be associated to an optimised recognition procedure carried out within the existing Internal Market Information System (IMI).
2. Better access to information on the recognition of professional qualifications: citizens should be able to go to a one-stop shop rather than being passed around between different government bodies. This one-stop shop should be the Points of Single Contact (PSCs), created under the Services Directive.
3. Updating minimum training requirements for doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, and veterinary surgeons: they were harmonised 20 or 30 years ago and have been updated to reflect the evolution of these professions and of education in these fields. The entry level for nursing and midwifery training has been upgraded from 10 to 12 years of general education.
4. The introduction of an alert mechanism for health professionals benefiting from automatic recognition: competent authorities of a Member State will be obliged to alert competent authorities of all other Member States about a health professional who has been prohibited from exercising his professional activity by a public authority or a court.
5. The introduction of common training frameworks and common training tests, replacing common platforms, should offer the possibility to extend the mechanism of automatic recognition to new professions. Interested professions could benefit from automatic recognition on the basis of a common set of knowledge, skills and competences or on a common test assessing the ability of professionals to pursue a profession.
6. Mutual evaluation exercise on regulated professions: a new mechanism is introduced in the Directive to ensure greater transparency and justification of the professions they regulate through a specific qualification requirement. Member States will have to provide a list of their regulated professions and justify the need for regulation. This should be followed up by a mutual evaluation exercise facilitated by the European Commission.
The Commission intends to hold an invitation-only meeting in early February as a chance for key stakeholders to provide their input on the proposal, which will be a chance for EPHA and its active members on this dossier to underline that the implementation must not undermine quality of care.
For further information
Proposal for a Directive of the EP and of the Council amending Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications and
Regulation ... on administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System
DG MARKT news on Free Movement of Professionals
EPHA related articles
EU Observatory publication on health professionals’ mobility and health systems
Single Market Forum: Joint Statement by EPHA, EPF, EWL and BEUC on maintaining minimum education standards for health professionals
EPHA attends RCP European Roundtable on the mobility of healthcare professionals
EPHA Briefing on Cross-border Patients’ Rights Directive
EPHA Briefing on WHO Global Code on International Recruitment of Health Personnel
European Parliament resolution calls for enhancing professional mobility