12 June, 2013 - Irish Presidency secures increased recognition of professional qualifications between Member States - More professional mobility will improve skills shortages and job opportunities

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A new alert system adopted to protect consumers and patients

The Irish Presidency has reached political agreement with the European Parliament on legislation to recognise professional qualifications throughout the EU. This is an important step towards the completion of the European Single Market and was a priority of the Irish presidency.

Minister Ruairí Quinn, Irish Minister of Education and Skills, whose Department has led on the modernising of Directive 2005/36, acknowledged the practical benefits this agreement will bring to professionals and consumers across the EU. “This Directive provides tangible benefits to EU citizens. The common training principles, combined with the introduction for the first time of a European Professional Card, will make it easier than ever before for appropriately qualified EU professionals to seek work in other EU countries. Consumers and patients will also benefit from improved safeguards that are being introduced through the alert mechanism and the provisions on language testing. This new legislation has the potential therefore to promote professional mobility make a significant contribution to economic recovery, without compromising on consumer protection and patient safety.”

The new proposals will bring a number of benefits for professionals and consumers across the EU including the introduction of a European Professional Card that will make it easier for professionals to have their qualifications recognised outside of their own country.

The legislation will also include provisions on common training principles, which is a significant innovation in the new legislation. These principles have the potential to extend the automatic recognition regime that exists for certain professions currently to a much wider range of professionals in EU states.

Both of these provisions have the potential to improve mobility among professionals and will address skills shortages and provide new job opportunities for those seeking work within the EU.

In addition to recognising professional qualifications, the legislation also promotes an alert system to protect consumers and strengthen patient safety.  The alert system will apply where a professional has been convicted of an offence or suspended from practising, which is a particularly welcome development for patients and public safety in the EU, as it will apply to health professionals amongst others. The legislation also clarifies the language requirements applicable to applicants seeking recognition of professional qualifications.

The legislation also incorporates measures that seek to promote greater transparency with regard to regulation and the number of regulated professions across the EU. It will also require Member States to provide information to migrants through points of single contact and assistance centres.

Minister Richard Bruton, Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and current chair of the Competitiveness Council, welcomed the agreement, saying:

“As a key building block of a coherent Single Market, agreement on this legislation has been prioritised by the Irish Presidency and is a concrete example of how we are delivering on our commitments to place stability, jobs and growth.”  
“This agreement goes to the heart of the European Project and one of its core concerns – the free movement of workers. The economic crisis has resulted in historic levels of EU unemployment.  At the same time, there are 1.85 million vacancies in a range of professions across the EU. This does not make sense and I believe these changes will make progress towards addressing the anomaly.”

“Heads of State and Government at the European Council had identified this agreement as one of the key actions which will speed Europe’s journey to full economic recovery. Harmonising and coordinating our systems will make it easier for people to find employment and will ensure gaps in the labour market are filled, thereby strengthening the foundations for economic growth.”  
The agreement will now be presented to Coreper for final endorsement by Member States.