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IP/09/1621

Brussels, 29 October 2009

Professional qualifications: Commission acts to ensure that Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom implement EU law

The European Commission has decided, under Article 228 of the EC Treaty, to send letters of formal notice to Belgium, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom requesting compliance with judgments of the European Court of Justice concerning implementation of a Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications. The Commission has also decided, under Article 228 of the EC Treaty, to send a letter of formal notice to Greece requesting compliance with a judgment of the Court concerning implementation of a Directive relating to the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU. Finally, Greece will also receive a reasoned opinion under Article 228 requesting compliance with a judgment of the Court on the recognition of professional qualifications of opticians.

Professional Qualifications Directive – Belgium, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom

Under Article 228 of the EC Treaty, the Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to the Kingdom of Belgium (concerning Case C-469/08), to Luxembourg (Case C-567/08) and to the United Kingdom (Case C-556/08) as they have not given effect to the judgment handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Communities regarding their failure to notify the measures they have taken to implement Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications.

This Directive is the result of the reform of the system of recognition of professional qualifications undertaken by the Commission in order to promote flexibility on the labour markets, further liberalise the provision of services, make the recognition of qualifications more automatic and simplify administrative procedures.

The Directive consolidates in a single piece of legislation fifteen directives, including twelve sectoral directives covering the professions of doctor, nurse responsible for general care, dental practitioner, veterinary surgeon, midwife, pharmacist and architect, and three directives which introduced a general system of recognition of professional qualifications covering most other regulated professions. The Directive simplifies the structure of the system of recognition of qualifications and improves the way it operates. It thus aims to facilitate mobility within the internal market for qualified people moving to another Member State either to provide a service or to settle there permanently.

The deadline for transposing Directive 2005/36/EC expired on 20 October 2007.

Given the failure of the Kingdom of Belgium, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom to notify their additional measures, the Court of Justice of the European Communities could impose the payment of a lump sum or a fine on these Member States.

Accession of Bulgaria and Romania – Greece

The Court judgments in question concerned the non-communication of measures taken to implement Directive 2006/100/EC, which provides for technical adaptations to the Directives on professional qualifications further to the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU. It updates, amongst others, all the lists of qualifications which benefit from automatic recognition by completing them with the corresponding Bulgarian and Romanian qualifications. The deadline for transposing the Directive expired on 1 January 2007. Greece has still not brought into force all the necessary provisions.

As long as the Directive is not implemented into national law, professionals holding Bulgarian or Romanian qualifications risk enduring needlessly bureaucratic and slow procedures before being able to exercise their right to work anywhere in the European Union and the potential users of the services of these professionals may be deprived of the opportunity to benefit from their expertise.

Opticians Greece

Under Article 228 of the EC Treaty, the Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Greece for its continued failure to recognise other Member States’ optician diplomas following the judgment of the Court of Justice of 4 December 2008 in Case C-84/07. In particular, Greece still refuses to recognise Italian optician diplomas awarded under a franchise agreement concluded between Italian and Greek training establishments. Consequently, holders of such diplomas are still unable to practise their profession in Greece.

Background

Under the EC 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.

More information

Professional qualifications:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/qualifications/index_en.htm

Latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member States:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/index_en.htm


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