The draft law would enable professions keen to accelerate the recognition of their members´ qualifications and experience by other EU state, to opt for European professional qualifications cards which would be granted by a member state.
The system would be based on the existing electronic information exchange system between member states administrations. This should save time and ease the recognition process, because professionals could ask their home country to arrange the recognition, rather than having to apply to the host country, as at present. Predictably, the proposal introduces a European professional skills card to make administrative formalities easier, a measure they backed. It will take the form of an electronic certificate issued by the home country and will be based on the Internal Market Information (IMI) system.
The new rules also aim to prevent health professionals, such as doctors, nurses or veterinary surgeons, who have been convicted of a crime or face disciplinary action from transferring their practice to another EU member state. All EU member states should be informed of such convictions or decisions to discipline a professional within 48 hours, says the text.
MEPs also wants to include unpaid traineeships, and not just paid ones, as proposed by the Commission, because unpaid traineeships may form part of the training giving access to a regulated profession.
Improving mobility for professionals is one of the priorities of the European Parlaiment in 2013. “The vote reflects Parliament’s will to improve the tools of the 2005 directive and to propose new ones to encourage and protect Europeans’ professional mobility. We hope to set up a genuine tool for European citizenship,” commented rapporteur Bernadette Vergnaud (S&D, France).
The existing Professional Qualifications Directive, which has applied since 2007, secures the automatic recognition of 7 professions across Europe: doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, veterinary surgeons and architects.
Predictably, MEPs validated the introduction of a European professional skills card to make administrative formalities easier, a measure they backed. It will take the form of an electronic certificate issued by the home country and will be based on the Internal Market Information (IMI), which has been revised along these lines. MEPs clarified the deadlines on the member state of origin for verifying the appropriate qualifications and the applicant’s right to practice before issuing the card. An automatic alert system operating through the IMI will signal any disqualifications in a member state of health or security-related professionals. Guarantees of the presumption of innocence were added.
In another innovation, “partial access,” meant to facilitate the recognition of professions that are not professions in other states, will be impossible for professions for which there is automatic recognition (seven of the 800 regulated professions) and if the professional is not fully qualified in the state of origin. Only a competent authority may refuse access and may do so on overriding reasons of general interest.
The directive will in the future concern all traineeships for which contracts will have to be drawn up: this was a key demand for Constance Le Grip (EPP, France), shadow rapporteur for her group. These will have to meet EU rules on working conditions.
MEPs made noteworthy advances on the common training frameworks covered by the general recognition system in order to dispense professionals from compensation measures. They wish to see this gateway to the automatic recognition system expanded to specialisations in professions for which there is automatic recognition. MEPs also pressed for better recognition, among other things, of the level of dental studies and veterinarians’ public health surveillance role.
Notaries are covered only partially by the directive in terms of freedom of establishment, given the specific characteristics of their duties.
Adjustments were made to take account of different training systems. For architects, academic training of four years followed by a two-year traineeship is the common arrangement, to which was added the possibility of five years of academic training without a traineeship (as is the case in Spain and Sweden).
On the sensitive question of raising the level of general education from ten to 12 years as a requirement for starting nursing training, proposed by the Commission, the majority of MEPs opted for a compromise setting the minimum at 12 years but allowing an exception for ten years (in dual curricula that combine school with work experience) provided there is compliance with specific listed and regularly updated competences common to both types of curricula.