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After an ongoing legal pursuit regarding university quotas set on medical students and Austria and Belgium (See ACA Newsletter- Education Europe October 2007), the European Commission has decided to suspend its ongoing infringement cases and give these countries five more years to submit supplementary data and justification. This decision comes after a year of tussling between the Commission and Austria and Belgium, the result of a ‘formal letter of notice’ sent by the Commission back January 2007 to the two members states warning that they were restricting the movement of people in the EU by installing student quotas.
In May, Austria supplied the Commission a rebuttal, saying that the quotas for medical studies reflect the fact that they lose too many doctors back to their native countries (primarily Germany), which ultimately causes a strain on the Austrian health care system. The French Community of Belgium, who introduced a similar quota for medical and veterinary studies, also fears an eventual decline in their health system if they do not ensure inscription places for natives.
With these two countries gaining a five year grace period to build up their cases, the quotas will remain in place.