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Brussels, 2nd July 2001

Professional qualifications: Commission launches open consultation on new EU regime

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on how to improve the EU regime for recognition in all Member States of professional qualifications. The results will be taken into account when the Commission presents a proposal for a new Directive, due before the Spring European Council in 2002, to create a more uniform, transparent and flexible regime in this area. The objectives of this forthcoming proposal, as announced in the Commission's new European labour markets Communication (see IP/01/276), are to simplify and consolidate existing legislation, to improve the conditions for professional recognition and to liberalise service provision within the EU, whilst ensuring a high level of health and consumer protection.

Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein, said: "It is in the interests of not only job-seekers but also employers that people should be able to gain appropriate recognition of their qualifications throughout the EU as easily as possible. From a broader economic perspective, this is also in the interests of greater labour market flexibility and competitiveness. I would therefore like to encourage all who have an interest in this issue to submit their views on the future Community regime for recognition of professional qualifications."

The Commission's intention is to propose a new Directive that will replace the current regime. The objectives of the proposal will be: first, to simplify and consolidate the existing rules and procedures in line with the SLIM initiative (Simpler Legislation for the Internal Market), thereby guaranteeing more transparency and legal certainty; secondly, to introduce greater flexibility into the system to allow more possibilities for automatic recognition between Member States; and thirdly, to further liberalise the free provision of services through simplified procedures in line with the Internal Market Strategy for Services.

The Parliament, Council and Commission have already stated their support for the consolidation of existing European legislation concerning qualifications. Simplification and services liberalisation are also on the agenda in line with the conclusions of the Lisbon and Stockholm Summits and the Commission Communications on European labour markets and Internal Market Services Strategy (see IP/01/31 and MEMO/01/5).

The Commission hopes that responses to this consultation will enable it to draw on the experiences of national authorities and professional associations in developing a proposal for a new regime. National authorities, professional associations and other interested parties are invited to communicate their views. Comments can be sent in writing by 28 September 2001 to: European Commission, Internal Market Directorate General, unit D-4, C-100 3/23, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 200, B-1049 Brussels, e-mail

The consultation documents are available on the Commission's Europa Website at


The existing Directives on the mutual recognition of qualifications allow European citizens who are qualified professionals in one Member State to practise their profession in other Member States. The longest standing Directives adopted in this area deal mainly with health professions and provide a minimum of harmonisation of training and automatic recognition of professional title throughout the EU. More recently, a general system for the recognition of qualifications has been introduced (see IP/01/253). It covers all professions requiring qualifications and applies across a wide range of professions following varying levels of education and training. It does not harmonise training and does not guarantee automatic recognition, as recognition can be made conditional to a test or a period of supervised practise.

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