Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications


Background - The Single Market Act

The European Union was built on four freedom, economic integration and cohesion policies in a view to improve the daily life of European citizens. To ensure that this goal becomes a reality, Member States increased their collaboration and thus contributed to develop an area of economic exchanges between their territories. In an increasing internationalised economic environment, European countries have created rules aiming at facilitating exchanges of goods, persons, capitals and services. This Single Market started along with the creation of Europe et ever since increased so as to become a "Highly competitive social Market Policy". 

As the European Union will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the symbolic date of 1992, the European Commission launched studies and recommendations to relaunch the Single Market as a key strategic objective for the EU. At the same time, the European Parliament too worked on "Delivering a single market to consumers and citizens". In the EP's view, the integration into the Single Market is not an irreversible process, and the continued existence of the Single Market should not be taken for granted. This process was sustained by a thorough consultation of the European civil society which collected views from interested parties and comments on the 50 measures proposed.


The current legislative framework

European regulations establishing mutual recognition of qualifications were introduced over the course of the last few decades. The first directive ever to regulate mobility of professionals in the European Community targeted doctors and dated back to 1975. This text was then followed by many other pieces of legislation which broadened the scope of mobility by embracing little by little other professions. 

These rules have since been consolidated into a single directive (Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications) which is currently under revision.

Two mechanisms were introduced under this directive to enable citizens to work abroad:

  • For a limited number of professions and under certain conditions, the Directive allows for automatic recognition of qualifications. These ''sectoral'' professions include doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, veterinary surgeons, and architects.
  • For the large majority of professions which are not covered by automatic recognition, recognition of qualifications is organised under the general system which provides for an ''ad hoc'' assessment procedure of qualifications whereby national authorities proceed on a case-by-case basis. 


Key challenges in the revision process

Revision of directive 2005/36/EC was initiated by the European Commission in 2010 with a series of meetings being organised with stakeholders to evaluate the directive in question as it stood. The Commission also launched three public consultations to which stakeholder organisations, particularly from regulated professions, were invited to submit their views on the possible ways to address the issues at stake.

The UEMS was involved in this entire process and contributed substantially in the course of this process. Aside of stakeholders' meetings, the UEMS also released the following documents in response to official Commission's consultations or communications: 


Further to these, the Commission released its proposal for amending directive 2005/36/EC.

In the course of the legislative process currently underway, the UEMS was invited to present its views on how the directive should change in order to encapsulate developments in the field of medical education and training. Dr Zlatko Fras, UEMS Liaison Office and Past-President, addressed the public hearing of the European Parliament's committee on internal market and consumers on 25 April 2012. 


UEMS priorities and work in addressing "Quality in Mobility"

European Commission's website

European Parliament's committee on internal market and consumer protection