Brussels, 8 October 2009
Professional qualifications: Commission acts to ensure that EU veterinary diplomas are recognised in Greece
The European Commission has decided to send Greece a formal request regarding its refusal to process applications for recognition of veterinary diplomas gained elsewhere in the EU, as required under the Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC). This formal request takes the form of a 'reasoned opinion', the second phase of the infringement procedure as laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
Refusal to recognise EU veterinary diplomas
It appears from complaints to the Commission that the Greek authorities refuse to process applications for recognition of veterinary diplomas in compliance with the Professional Qualifications Directive. Instead of granting access to the profession, the Greek authorities require the complainants, who hold EU qualifications of veterinary surgeons and wish to establish in Greece, to undergo bureaucratic and slow procedures before being able to exercise their right to practice in Greece. Furthermore, the potential users of the services of these professionals may be deprived of the opportunity to benefit from their expertise.
The Professional Qualifications Directive provides for automatic recognition of diplomas of veterinary surgeons. Not yet having transposed the Directive into Greek law, the Greek authorities informed the Commission in their reply to the letter of formal notice that the issue in question was about to be resolved in the context of the future transposition. No further information being given, the Commission is now heading for the next step in the infringement proceedings, which may result in referring Greece to the European Court of Justice.
If European law on the recognition of professional qualifications is not respected, qualified persons run the risk of not being able to exercise their right to practise their profession in any of the Member States. Moreover, by blocking Europe-wide recognition of professional qualifications, the Member States are reducing the scope for their own citizens and their own firms to choose qualified people from other Member States to provide services on their territory.
Under the EU Treaty, the European Commission has powers to take legal action – known as infringement procedures – against a Member State that is not respecting its obligations under EU rules. These procedures consist of three steps. The first is that the Member State receives a letter of formal notice and has two months to respond. In case further compliance with EU legislation is needed, the Commission sends a reasoned opinion.
Again the Member State has two months to reply. If there is no satisfactory reply, the Commission can refer the matter to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. It can also request that the Court impose a fine on the country concerned if it does not comply with the Court's ruling.
Latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member States: