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Europe seeks better recognition of professional qualifications

Earlier this month, members of the European Parliament reached an agreement with the EU’s Irish Presidency of the Council on the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU, resulting in a draft directive allowing all EU nationals  to pursue a regulated profession or traineeship in another EU country. The directive still has to be formally approved by the Council Committee of Permanent Representatives and Parliament's Internal Market Committee later in October.

Improving professional mobility is crucial for competitiveness and employment in Europe. It is an integral part of the 2020 Strategy as well as one of the 12 priorities of the Single Market Act. It also goes hand in hand with the Bologna Process, which aims to create a harmonised European Higher Education Area. In a similar vein, last month Germany decided on the launch of a new German Qualification Framework (DRQ) which will facilitate the recognition of foreign education diplomas and vocational qualifications in Germany (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, June 2013). Nevertheless, professional mobility in Europe still remains low, due to lengthy and unclear procedures for the recognition of professional qualifications. 

The draft directive aims at simplifying and accelerating these procedures. Through the introduction, on a voluntary basis, of a European professional card issued by the EU member states, the recognition of professional qualifications would be considerably simplified for both professionals (who can use this card as a “passport” for mutual recognition) and competent authorities. Communication between member states is expected to significantly improve; for example, a common alert mechanism will be set up to prevent professionals convicted of attempted fraud or facing disciplinary action to pursue their profession in another country. 

The implementation of such an automatic system of recognition naturally depends on the confidence in education and training establishments issuing professional qualifications, as well as the efficient mechanisms for quality-checks and tests of the applicant’s professional knowledge, skills and competences.

European Parliament – Press Release Draft report