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IP/01/186

Brussels, 9 February 2001

Diplomas : Commission continues infringement proceedings in respect of the mutual recognition of qualifications

The EU Commission has decided to continue the infringement proceedings initiated against France, Italy and Germany for their failure to comply with Community legislation on the mutual recognition of diplomas. It intends to bring an action against France before the Court of Justice because of the non-conformity of its legislation governing access to the profession of hospital administrator and to send a Reasoned Opinion concerning access to the profession of pharmacist in France. The Commission has also decided to send Reasoned Opinions to Germany on the non-conformity of its legislation concerning the use of academic titles acquired in another Member State. In the case of Italy, the Commission will institute proceedings before the Court of Justice with regard to the recognition of ski instructors' qualifications. The transmission of a Reasoned Opinion constitutes the second stage in the infringement procedure provided for in Article 226 of the Treaty. In the absence of a satisfactory response by the Member State concerned in the two months following notification of the Opinion, the Commission can refer the matter to the Court of Justice.

France Access to the profession of hospital administrator

The Commission has decided to bring an action against France before the Court of Justice for the non-conformity of its legislation on access to the profession of hospital administrator with Directive 89/48/EEC on a general system for the recognition of higher-education diplomas awarded on completion of professional education and training of at least three years' duration.

The existing legislation essentially means that Community citizens wishing to practise this profession in France and who have had professional training equivalent to the French training may be exempted from undertaking all or part of the French training programme.

This provision is at variance with the rules of the Directive, which stipulate that a host Member State may require compensatory measures only if there is a substantial difference between the migrant's level of training and the training it provides. In addition, the Directive gives the migrant a choice between an aptitude test or an adaptation period for the purpose of making good any such substantial difference; the French legislation does not allow this possibility, but merely exempts the migrant from the need to complete part of the training.

France Recognition of diplomas in pharmacy

The Commission has decided to send France a Reasoned Opinion concerning the non-conformity of its legislation with Community law on the mutual recognition of diplomas and the application of this legislation to access to the profession of pharmacist.

The mutual recognition of diplomas in pharmacy by the Member States is guaranteed by Directive 85/433/EEC. This provides for the automatic recognition of all listed diplomas which meet certain minimum training requirements. The Commission considers, however, that pharmacy diplomas do not meet these minimum requirements and therefore do not qualify for the automatic recognition provided for by the Directive but must be the subject of an alternative recognition procedure by the Member States. This obligation arises from the direct application of Articles 49 and 33 of the Treaty as interpreted by the Court of Justice. French legislation does not provide for any alternative recognition procedure, which amounts to denying Community pharmacists holding EU qualifications not covered by Directive 85/433/EEC any possibility of practising in France.

Germany University qualifications

The Commission has decided to send Germany a Reasoned Opinion on its decision to impose further restrictions on the right to use, within its territory, an academic title resulting from training under an exchange agreement between a university in one Member State and a higher education establishment in another.

The sole purpose of an authorisation procedure for the use of a post-graduate academic title acquired in another Member State should be to establish whether it was rightfully awarded by a competent higher education establishment following completion of the relevant programme of studies. Existing legislation in some Länder, however, requires that the higher education establishment concerned should be comparable to a German establishment, that the title must result from the completion of three years' study, at least one of which must have been undertaken in the awarding establishment, and that, in the case of an MBA awarded in the United Kingdom or Ireland, the holder must have completed four years' full-time study in one of those Member States.

The Commission considers that the essential requirement is for the grant of the title to be authorised in the country where the awarding university is situated and for the university concerned to verify the conformity of the award with its academic criteria. In the event of doubts with regard to certain programmes, the German authorities are of course entitled to seek clarification, in particular by approaching the awarding university or its supervisory authorities; they cannot, however, refuse the right to use a title for the above-mentioned reasons. Such a refusal would infringe Articles 49 and 50 of the Treaty. Overall, it could dissuade students from enrolling for a particular course and undermine the ability of the foreign university to provide such a service under the exchange agreement.

In a wider context, the Commission has decided to address a separate Reasoned Opinion to Germany on the non-conformity of its legislation on the use of academic titles acquired in another Member State with Articles 39 and 43 of the Treaty.

Italy ski instructors' qualifications

The Commission has decided to bring an action against Italy before the Court of Justice for the non-conformity with Directive 92/51/EEC of its legislation on the mutual recognition of ski instructors' qualifications. The existing legislation makes such recognition subject to reciprocity. Although the Italian authorities have pointed out that this requirement is not applied in the case of EU nationals, the Commission considers that such a provision cannot be accepted on grounds of legal certainty.


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