Professionals will find it easier to work in another EU country thanks to an electronic card detailing their qualifications and experience, said the Internal Market Committee on Wednesday, amending a new draft law on recognition of professional qualifications. MEPs also backed plans for an EU- wide alert system to prevent doctors or nurses who are barred from their profession in one EU country from exercising it in another.
"Ensuring simple and secure mobility for professionals is an important part of relaunching the single market. Key changes to current rules, and notably the professional card, are a real EU added-value, improving a common European understanding and European citizenship", said lead MEP Bernadette Vergnaud (S&D, FR).
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.
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.
Safeguarding patient safety
To ensure that easing doctors' mobility does not harm patient safety, MEPs voted to enable EU member states to opt to test their knowledge of the language used where they are apply to get a job. Doctors should also be obliged to update their skills through continuous professional education and training, MEPs add.
MEPs voted to extend the directive's scope to cover traineeships, as an integral part of a professional's experience. MEPs voted 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.
The legislative resolution was adopted by 33 votes to 4, with 2 abstentions. The committee will decide later when to start informal negotiations with the Council on the updated directive.
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 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.
In the Chair: Committee Chair Malcolm Harbour (ECR, UK)