Doctors, nurses, architects and other professionals moving to another EU country will find it easier to get their qualifications recognised ©Belga/Pressassociation/A.Matthews 

A virtual professional qualifications card, to make it easier for doctors, pharmacists, architects and other professionals to move to and practice in another EU country and an alert system, to make it harder for those barred from a profession at home to do likewise, will be introduced by a new draft law voted by Parliament on Wednesday.

"Introducing a European professional card, establishing common training frameworks and recognising traineeships as part of professional's experience will greatly improve their mobility and European's security", said rapporteur Bernadette Vergnaud (S&D, FR).

Easier and faster recognition

The updated rules will enable professions keen to accelerate the recognition of their members' qualifications by other EU state to opt for European professional qualifications cards. These would be granted by the home member state mostly for short periods of work abroad and the host member state if the practice is to be transferred there.

The system will 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. If the authorities were to fail to respond to a recognition request within the time limits laid down in the directive, this would be deemed a tacit recognition of the qualification..

Alert system

The directive also aims to prevent health professionals, such as doctors, nurses or veterinary surgeons, and also childcare specialists who have been convicted of a relevant 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 three days, says the text.

Public EU database for regulated professions

There are about 800 regulated professions in the EU, access to which is subject to possession of a specific qualification or diploma. Under the existing Professional Qualifications Directive, seven of them are automatically recognised throughout the EU: doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, veterinary surgeons and architects.

To make the system of regulated professions more transparent, the updated rules will require the Commission to set up a public database of these professions. This would be compiled from information received from member states, which would also have to demonstrate to each other that decisions to regulate any given profession are proportionate, and not discriminatory. For example, florists and taxi drivers are not currently regulated in all member states.

Next steps

The draft directive, approved by 596 votes to 37 with 31 abstentions, still has to be formally approved by EU member states.

Procedure: Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure), 1st reading agreement
Press conference: Wednesday, 9 October at 15.00
#professional #qualifications