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Recognition of diplomas, certificates and titles other than those obtained by higher education

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This Directive aims to extend the system of mutual recognition introduced by Council Directive 89/48/EEC to those professions for which the required level of training is not as high.

ACT

Council Directive 92/51/EEC of 18 June 1992 on a second general system for the recognition of professional education and training to supplement Directive 89/48/EEC [See amending acts]

This Directive will be repealed and replaced by Directive 2005/36/EC as of 20 October 2007.

SUMMARY

This Directive is the last in a set of measures giving every Community national the right to have qualifications acquired in one Member State recognised or taken into account by another Member State.

A Member State which regulates a profession will recognise qualifications acquired in another Member State and permit their holder to pursue his activity or activities on the territory of the Member State under the same conditions as apply to its own nationals.

The Directive applies to those professions which are not the subject of a specific Directive on recognition.

The term "regulated professions" also covers those professions exercised by members of private associations which are recognised in a special form in a Member State (e.g. "chartered bodies" in the United Kingdom and their counterparts in Ireland).

Diplomas acquired by Community nationals in a Non-EU Member Country will also be covered by the Directive, provided that:

  • the education and training to which they attest were received mainly in the Community, or
  • their holder possesses proof of three years' professional experience in the Member State which has recognised these diplomas.

The Directive adopts the following recognition arrangements:

  • basic principle: automatic recognition by the host Member State;
  • exception: recognition by the host Member State after compensation in the form of:

- either an adaptation period or an aptitude test,

where the host State provides evidence of substantial differences between the education and training received and that required, or where there are differences in the fields of activity that are characterised by specific education and training relating to subjects which differ substantially from those covered by the applicant's qualification. The host Member State must allow the applicant to choose between an adaptation period and an aptitude test;

- or prior professional experience, where the duration of the migrant's education and training is less than that required in the host Member State.

The Directive covers a very wide range of qualifications and therefore had to be divided into two new levels:

  • a level corresponding to a short post-secondary course;
  • a level corresponding to a secondary course.

Consequently, provision had to be made for recognition not only between Member States whose training courses are at the same level but also between Member States whose training courses are not at the same level, including that covered by Directive 89/48/EEC.

In addition to a procedure for recognising education and training received by means of a structured course, the Directive provides for a procedure for recognising training received by means of professional experience.

It extends to employees the provisions of certain specific Directives (so-called transitional Directives covering in particular the distributive trades and craft industries) which at present cover only the self-employed.

The Directive extends the role of the coordinating group set up by Directive 89/48/EEC and lays down the same obligations for the Member States and the Commission regarding reports on the application of the future Directive.

Directives 94/38/EC, 95/43/EC, 97/38/EC and 2000/5/EC amend the lists of courses (Annexes C and D). Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003 introduces the procedure for amending these same lists of courses.

In particular, Directive 2001/19/EC aims to:

  • ensure that the host Member State, when examining an application for recognition of a diploma, takes into consideration the experience acquired by the applicant after obtaining the diploma. The host Member State may no longer systematically require the applicant to take compensatory measures, such as aptitude tests or adaptation periods, but must simplify and if possible eliminate these measures;
  • ensure legal certainty with regard to the recognition of diplomas obtained by Community nationals in Non-EU Member Countries; the envisaged system gives each Member State the right to recognise or reject these diplomas, except when a first host Member State has already recognised the applicant's professional experience. In this case a second host Member State may not directly reject the application for recognition but must justify its rejection;
  • extend the automatic recognition procedure, already applicable to general practitioners, to other physicians and to nurses responsible for general care, dental practitioners, veterinary surgeons, midwives and pharmacists. The main simplification lies in the updating of the lists of diplomas recognised at European level, since the Commission will from now on be able to publish lists of diplomas notified by the Member States on a regular basis (annexed to this Directive).

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 92/51/EEC18.6.199418.6.1994OJ L 209 of 24.7.1992
Directive 94/38/EC12.9.19941.10.1994OJ L 217 of 23.8.1994
Directive 95/43/EC23.8.199531.10.1995OJ L 184 of 3.8.1995
Directive 97/38/EC1.8.199730.9.1997OJ L 184 of 12.7.1997
Directive 2000/5/EC27.2.200027.2.2001OJ L 54 of 26.2.2000
Directive 2001/19/EC31.7.20011.1.2003OJ L 206 of 31.7.2001
Act concerning the conditions of accession of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic1.5.2004-OJ L 236 of 23.9.2003
Regulation (EC) No 1882/200320.11.2003-OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003
Directive 2006/100/EC1.1.20071.1.2007OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 94/38/EC12.9.19941.10.1994OJ L 217 of 23.8.1994
Directive 95/43/EC23.8.199531.10.1995OJ L 184 of 3.8.1995
Directive 97/38/EC1.8.199730.9.1997OJ L 184 of 12.7.1997
Directive 2000/5/EC27.2.200027.2.2001OJ L 54 of 26.2.2000
Directive 2001/19/EC31.7.20011.1.2003OJ L 206 of 31.7.2001
Act concerning the conditions of accession of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic1.5.2004-OJ L 236 of 23.9.2003
Regulation (EC) No 1882/200320.11.2003-OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003
Directive 2006/100/EC1.1.20071.1.2007OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006

RELATED ACTS

Commission Report of 3 February 2000 to the Council and Parliament on the application of Directive 92/51/EEC in accordance with Article 18 of Directive 92/51/EEC [COM(2000) 17 final].

Council Directive 92/51/EEC provides for a progress report to be made on its application five years after the implementation deadline.

The report describes the context in which the Directive was drawn up before turning to its implementation and the statistics on its application. It then looks at practical experience in relation to certain professions.

Directive 92/51/EEC heralded the start of a new move towards equivalence for diplomas in that the first Directive 89/48/EC covered training of at least three years' duration. Directive 92/51/EC extended, in particular, equivalence mechanisms to include courses whose actual level is comparable to that of corresponding short higher education courses. Many professions were thus covered by the Directive.

The report stresses that many problems (now dealt with) were encountered as regards the implementation of the Directive, which led to considerable delays in applying it. The Commission instituted infringement proceedings against some Member States for failure to meet the two-year deadline for transposition: Spain (one year's delay), Ireland (two years), Portugal and the United Kingdom (two and a half years), Belgium (three years) and Greece (four years). Most of the statistics provided in the report came from the Member States in northern Europe (Denmark, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, United Kingdom) and also Italy. The lack of statistics on certain Member States may be put down to a number of practical reasons or the fact that there were delays in transposition.

The report highlights certain difficulties encountered in enforcing the Directive. Professions not covered by a sector-specific directive or the general system find themselves within a legal vacuum which creates problems with cross-border recognition of qualifications. Some controversy exists as regards the equivalence of qualifications in instances where there are no substantial differences from one country to another. This is the case with ski instructors, for example, and also certain jobs in the tourist industry. There is a need for greater legal consistency in this area.

The report contains observations on the following categories of profession:

  • the public service, which the Commission has always regarded to be a priori within the scope of the two Directives. The report also looks at the question of competitions for entry to the public service;
  • pre-school and post-school teaching, with regard to which it is stated that most refusals to recognise diplomas are difficult to justify;
  • social professions, a sector not posing any particular problems as regards recognition;
  • health-related professions: this is a special area in that, for a given profession, the effect of the Directive varies from one Member State to another. Specific directives are also in place for certain professions, such as nursing;
  • transport professions, which are covered by a specific directive;
  • professions in the tourism sector, with respect to which the Directive makes a distinction between couriers/tour escorts and tourist guides. The report concludes that, in this category, solutions to problems of equivalence depend above all on the will of the main players to reconcile the principle of freedom to provide services with the national law of the Member States concerned;
  • sports professions, a sector which raises often complex problems, since approaches differ widely from one country to another. Equivalence of diplomas in the context of freedom to provide services in this sector also raises special questions, as well as the issue of where to draw the dividing-line between establishment and service provision in various Member States.

Directive 1999/42/EC establishing a third general system for the recognition of qualifications in respect of the professional activities covered by the Directives on liberalisation will be transposed in 2001. This will represent a significant step towards equivalence of diplomas and training.

The report stresses that it is too early to draw conclusions about a directive so complex in terms of its implementation in such a large number of countries. It also recognises that the Directive seems too cumbersome for the services sector. Here the Commission suggests that the deadlines for responding to applications and for compensatory measures be reduced. Finally, the Commission urges even closer administrative cooperation, which will enable a code of conduct on formalities to be drawn up.

Last updated: 28.03.2008
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