To make it easier for doctors, dentists, architects and other professions to work abroad within the EU and to add flexibility to the labour market, professional qualifications need to be recognised faster but without compromising the reliability and safety of their work for citizens, the European Parliament said on Tuesday.
Speeding up recognition by simplifying procedures will not only help the more than 50% of young Europeans whom a recent survey found are willing to work abroad, but also spur economic growth, add flexibility to the labour market and respond to labour shortages. At the same time, MEPs want a better exchange of information among Member States on doctors and others who have been found guilty of malpractice.
Estimates show that 16 million more people will be needed to fill high-skilled jobs in the EU by 2020. Yet the current system for recognition of professional qualifications earned in another EU Member State is excessively cumbersome and time-consuming.
The non-binding resolution by Emma McClarkin (ECR, UK) sets out Parliament's inputs to a legislative proposal, to be presented by the Commission in December for a revision of the 2005 Professional Qualifications Directive.
"Professionals across the EU are waiting for us to deliver on our promise to enhance mobility. They are providing essential services across the EU, helping to drive our economy and enhancing our citizens' quality of life. We need to provide a framework that enables them to do this" said the rapporteur in the debate prior to the vote.
To simplify and speed up procedures, MEPs propose to establish a voluntary professional passport linked to an electronic exchange system connecting public authorities across the EU, known as the Internal Market Information System (IMI) which would allow the smooth exchange of information among competent authorities.
MEPs also call on the Commission to set guidelines regarding when applicants should expect to receive a decision from the authorities.
MEPs stress that there has been serious problems associated with professionals continuing to practise in the EU despite being suspended or struck off in their home country. An alert mechanism should therefore be established within the IMI to ensure that all Member States are informed as soon as regulatory action is taken against a professional.
MEPs also consider that current rules on language requirements must be clarified and calls on the Commission to revise the rules for health care professionals so as to allow the competent authorities to ascertain, and if necessary test, technical and conversation language skills as part of the recognition process. The ability to communicate with colleagues and patients is vital to avoid dangerous or potentially life-threatening situations, they say.
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 current directive sets out rules for around 800 regulated professions and secures the automatic recognition of 7 professions across Europe: doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, veterinary surgeons and architects.
The resolution was passed with 463 votes in favour, 163 against and 17 abstentions.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution