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Following a number of complaints, the  Commission has decided to send  France
two  reasoned opinions  (the second  stage of  infringement proceedings under
Article 169 of  the EC Treaty) setting out  its objections to French  laws on
qualifications.  One case  concerns French rules enabling  psychiatric nurses
to  obtain  the official  qualification for  nurses  responsible  for general
care.   In the  other case, the  Commission takes  the view  that France  has
failed in a number of instances to apply EC Treaty rules  on free movement of
workers,   freedom  of   establishment  and   freedom  to   provide  services
(Articles 48, 52 and 59), which  require it to take account of  hairdressers'
qualifications  acquired  by  Community  nationals  in  other  Member States.
Should France  fail  to  respond  satisfactorily  within  40 working days  of
receiving the  reasoned opinions, the Commission  would be entitled to  refer
the cases to the Court of Justice.

Nurses

The Commission has received  a complaint  against French legislation  adopted
in 1992 and 1993, which allows holders  of psychiatric nurses' qualifications
to obtain,  on request, the official  qualification for general care  nurses,
provided  that  they complete  a three-month  period of  full-time in-service
training, and obtain a  certificate to that effect,  or complete a period  of
full-time in-service nursing training  in a general  care department.  A  new
Order  on  the award  of  the  official nursing  qualification  to  qualified
psychiatric nurses  was adopted on  26 October 1994; the difference with  the
previous  rules   is  that   the  official   nursing  qualification   is  now
automatically  awarded  to   holders  of  the  qualification  in  psychiatric
nursing, on application addressed to the regional  directorate for health and
social  affairs.  The  adaptation period  required of  persons who  decide to
work in a different field no longer has to be the subject of a certificate.

In    the    Commission's   opinion,    these    rules    run   counter    to
Directive 77/453/EEC,  which lays down minimum standards  for the training of
nurses responsible  for general  care.   Training for  psychiatric nurses  in
France focuses  too heavily  on the specific  treatment of mental  disorders,
and  the clinical instruction is provided mainly in psychiatric institutions.
This means  that even a three-month  period of in-service training  would not
be sufficient to fill  the gaps in comparison  with the training attested  by
the official qualification for nurses responsible for general care.

The  Commission's comments on  the French rules  relating to  the training of
psychiatric nurses do not mean to assess the quality  of that training, since
there is no Community legislation laying down the  minimum standards for such
training  to be  met by  Member States.   Action  had to  be taken,  however,
because the  French rules  enable psychiatric nurses  to obtain the  official
qualification  for nurses  responsible for  general care,  whose training  is
subject  to  binding  Community  provisions  laying  down  minimum  standards
(Directive 77/453/EEC);  the training  of psychiatric  nurses  must therefore
meet those standards in this case.

France has not replied  to the letter of  formal notice which the  Commission
sent to it on this matter on 16 January 1996.

Recognition of hairdressers' qualifications

Directive 82/489/EEC of 19 July 1982 laying  down measures to facilitate  the
effective  exercise of  the right  of establishment  and  freedom to  provide
services  in hairdressing  is intended  to facilitate  the  free movement  of
hairdressers  who do  not possess  the qualifications  required  in the  host
Member State  but who  can  prove that  they  have lawfully  and  effectively
worked  as  a self-employed  hairdresser  or  as manager  of  a  hairdressing
business for a period of between three  and six years in a Member State other
than  the host  country.   It establishes  a system  of recognition  based on
professional experience  acquired in  the country of  origin or country  from
which  the hairdresser  comes  in order  to  remedy the  disparities  between
national rules.

Migrants  who do not  fulfil these  conditions can  nevertheless rely  on the
case-law of the Court of  Justice as regards interpretation of the EC Treaty.
In its judgments of 15 October 1987 in Case 222/86  Heylens and 7 May 1991 in
Case C-340/89 Vlassopoulou, the  Court stressed that the national authorities
are under the obligation to take account of diplomas, certificates and  other
evidence  of qualifications  acquired in  another Member State,  by comparing
the skills attested  by those diplomas with the knowledge  and qualifications
required  by the  national rules  under a  procedure which  ensures  that the
individual concerned is  treated fairly.  In accordance with  its obligations
under  the Treaty  rules on  the  free movement  of workers,  the freedom  of
establishment and the  freedom to provide services (Articles 48, 52  and 59),
the  host Member State cannot  refuse to  take account  of the  knowledge and
qualifications acquired by a Community national in another Member State.

The  host  Member State   must  establish  a  procedure  for   comparing  the
qualifications obtained by the person concerned in another  Member State with
those required in its  own territory.  The  procedure must also ensure  that,
if the  qualifications  acquired  by  the  individual  concerned  in  another
Member State  are found  to  be equivalent,  the foreign  diploma  certifying
those qualifications  is fully recognized by  the host Member State.   If, on
the  other hand,  the  assessment reveals  that  some of  the  qualifications
deemed necessary for  exercising the profession in question are  lacking, the
host  Member State is entitled to  require the person  concerned to show that
he has acquired the missing  knowledge and qualifications, but it must accept
that part  of the training which  has been found to  be equivalent.   Once it
has objectively identified any gaps  in the migrant's training, it must  also
offer him an opportunity of filling them through additional training.

The  Commission has  decided to  issue a  reasoned  opinion since  France has
failed to respond to its earlier letter of formal notice.

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