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Europe - Cross-border recognition of professional skills to be speeded up

19 October 2011

The skills of doctors, engineers, dentists and other professionals applying to work in another European Union (EU) member state must be recognised faster, but without compromising the reliability or safety of their services to citizens, said the Internal Market Committee on Monday, voting on its input to forthcoming proposals to revise EU rules on cross-border mobility for professionals.
 
More than 50% of young people in Europe are keen or willing to work abroad, according to the May 2011 Eurobarometer survey. Modernising the system for recognising professional qualifications is vital to spur economic growth, add flexibility to the labour market and respond to demographic shortages in the EU, says the report on "The implementation of the Professional Qualifications Directive", approved by the Internal Market Committee with 32 votes in favour and 1 abstention.
 
The non-legislative report by Emma McClarkin (ECR, UK) presents the European Parliament's input to a legislative proposal, expected from the Commission in December, to revise the Professional Qualifications Directive.

Professional card linked to an electronic exchange system
 
A voluntary professional card linked to an electronic exchange system connecting public authorities across the EU known as the Internal Market Information System (IMI), could be "a useful tool to aid mobility for some professions" and "simplify administrative procedures", MEPs say, describing the current system as "overly cumbersome and time-consuming".
 
However, "the introduction of any card must meet specific safety and data protection conditions", they add, insisting that "the necessary safeguards against abuse and fraud must be established".
 
Improving safety for citizens
 
A "proactive alert mechanism" should be established within IMI to ensure that all member states are alerted when regulatory action is taken against a professional's registration or their right to provide services, says the report.

MEPs also consider that the current directive's rules on language requirements must be clarified and call on the Commission and the member states to revise them for the healthcare professions so as to allow the authorities to ascertain and, if necessary, "test the technical and conversational language skills of professionals as part of the recognition process".

Background

Improving mobility for professionals is one of the 12 priorities of the Single Market Act, the Commission's action plan to improve the functioning of the single market. The 2005 Professional Qualifications Directive sets out rules for up to 800 regulated professions and secures the automatic recognition of 7 professions across Europe: doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, veterinary surgeons and architects.  
 
Next steps

The McClarkin report is scheduled for a plenary vote in Strasbourg in November.

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