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Brussels, 14 April 2009

Professional qualifications: Commission sends formal request to Germany concerning manual therapists

The European Commission has formally requested Germany to amend its legislation on the recognition of manual therapists' qualifications. This request takes the form of a "reasoned opinion", the second stage of the infringement procedure 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.

The Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to Germany regarding the non-conformity of its legislation on the mutual recognition of manual therapists' qualifications. According to the German framework recommendations issued on the basis of the Sozialgesetzbuch V., all physiotherapists who provide manual therapy services for patients insured by the health insurance funds have to complete a post-graduate training course in manual therapy if they want their patients to receive reimbursement of the fees for those services from the health insurance funds. On this basis, the German authorities refuse to recognise manual therapists' qualifications obtained by EU citizens in other Member States because their training is different from the German training requirements.

In the Commission's view, such refusal contradicts the principle of mutual recognition established by Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications. The fact that the reimbursement of the corresponding fees by the health insurance funds is dependent on the possession of a given qualification by the professional concerned constitutes a form of regulation of the activity or profession concerned, which then falls under Directive 2005/36/EC. This implies that Germany has to implement the general system of recognition of diplomas for the activity/profession concerned, in order to allow EU citizens trained in other Member States to have access to the activity concerned under the same conditions as its own nationals.

Germany may make the recognition of a qualification obtained in another Member State subject to passing an aptitude test or fulfilling a supervised adaptation period if the training requirements in the other Member State are substantially different from its own training requirements. However, it cannot refuse recognition stating that the two training courses are not comparable. The Commission believes that the current German legislation relating to the profession of manual therapist seriously compromises the system of mutual recognition of professional qualifications and deprives manual therapists who obtained their qualifications in a Member State other than Germany of the possibility of exercising their profession in Germany.

The latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member States can be found at:

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