Brussels, 24 June 2010
Professional qualifications: Commission refers Luxembourg back to Court for failing to comply with common rules
The European Commission has acted today to ensure that common EU rules on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications are respected in Luxembourg. It has referred Luxembourg to the Court of Justice of the European Union. In the Commission's view, Luxembourg continues to infringe EU law and has not complied with a judgment of the Court of Justice in 2008 (C-223/08). The Court ruled that Luxembourg had failed to fulfil its obligations to implement a Directive that would extend the scope of common rules on the recognition of professional qualifications to citizens from Romania and Bulgaria. As Luxembourg has still not complied with the Court judgment and has not implemented the Directive in full, the Commission has now decided to refer the case back to the Court again and will ask the Court to impose financial penalties on Luxembourg of 4 760 euro per day from the date of the Court ruling until Luxembourg complies with the Directive or until the second Court ruling, as well as 14 280 euro per day from the date of the second Court ruling until Luxembourg complies with the Directive if that is not already the case.
What is the aim of the EU rule in question?
Freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services are fundamental freedoms of the 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 as it allows qualified professionals to move across borders and to carry out their work in another Member State.
With the accession of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, the EU adopted legislation that updated the list of qualifications that benefit from automatic recognition for these countries such as doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives, veterinary surgeons, pharmacists and architects. This legislation means that professionals who obtained their qualifications in Romania or Bulgaria can work in another EU Member State without facing excessive and unjustified administrative burdens.
How is Luxembourg not respecting this rule and how are citizens and/or businesses suffering as a result?
The deadline for implementation of the Directive (2006/100/EC) was 1 January 2007 and Luxembourg has still not brought into force all the necessary provisions. As long as the Directive is not implemented in national law, professionals holding Bulgarian or Romanian qualifications risk enduring needless bureaucracy and slow procedures before being able to exercise their right to work in Luxembourg. Furthermore, potential users of the services of these professionals may be deprived of the opportunity to benefit from their expertise.
Under Article 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Member States are obliged to take the necessary measures to comply with the judgments of the EU Court. If a Member State still fails to comply following a letter of formal notice, the Commission may refer the case back to the Court and ask the Court to impose a lump sum or penalty payment on Luxembourg.
Recognition of professional qualifications
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