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Brussels, 24 November 2010

Professional qualifications: Commission requests Greece to end discrimination on nurses qualifications

The European Commission today has requested Greece to comply with EU rules on the mutual recognition of nurses' professional qualifications. The Commission considers that Greece has breached these rules by requiring Greek nurses that have obtained their qualifications in another EU Member State, to seek academic recognition of their diplomas in Greece before they can become a registered nurse there. This adversely affects both the Greek health sector and well-qualified Greek nurses seeking work in their own country. The Commission's request to Greece takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If Greece does not reply satisfactorily within two months, the Commission may refer this matter to the Court of Justice.

What do the rules in question say?

Freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services are fundamental principles of the EU's Internal Market. They grant companies and persons the right to set up and do business anywhere they want in the EU. The mutual recognition of professional qualifications in the EU is a key principle in order to facilitate these freedoms, but also to help make labour markets flexible. EU rules allow qualified professionals to move across borders and to carry out their work in another Member State. Furthermore, the qualifications of a number of professions, such as doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives, veterinary surgeons, pharmacists and architects, are harmonised at EU level and so must be automatically recognised in every Member State. This means that professionals who obtained their qualifications in one EU Member State are entitled to work in another EU Member State without facing excessive and unjustified administrative burdens.

How is Greece not respecting these rules?

The Commission considers that the Greek legislation in force (Act 3252/2004) violates Articles 4(1) and 21(1) of the Professional Qualifications Directive. These provisions stipulate that general care nurses whose training satisfies the minimum training requirements, and who obtained a qualification listed in the Annex of the Directive shall be recognised automatically in any other Member State and they shall be authorised there to have access to and exercise the profession.

However, instead of applying these provisions on automatic recognition, Greece requires Greek nurses who completed their general care nurse training in another Member State to obtain an academic recognition of their diploma in Greece before they can finally receive their registration. This registration is compulsory in order to be able to work as a nurse in Greece.

How are citizens suffering as a result?

As long as Greece is not complying with EU rules, Greek nurses holding qualifications obtained elsewhere risk enduring needless bureaucracy and slow procedures before being able to exercise their right to work in Greece. Furthermore, Greek medical care may be deprived of the opportunity to benefit from their expertise.

More information:

Recognition of professional qualifications:

Latest information on infringement proceedings concerning all Member States:

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/10/605

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