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Recognition of Professional Qualifications

It is fundamental to EU law that citizens should have the freedom to establish themselves and work anywhere in the EU. In 2005, the EU adopted an amended directive governing the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU which aims to clarify and consolidate the current rules in place and to facilitate free movement of qualified professionals between Member States. The professions affected by the directive include: architects; dentists; doctors; midwives; lawyers; nurses; pharmacists; veterinary surgeons.

The directive consolidated fifteen existing EU Directives on the recognition of qualifications. The directive includes greater liberalisation of the provision of services, more automatic recognition of qualifications and increased flexibility in the procedures for updating the directive. In this way, the directive will contribute to the goal of the EU's Lisbon strategy to make the European economy more dynamic and competitive.

An evaluation of the Professional Qualifications Directive and subsequent public consultations highlighted a number of difficulties, from the efficiency of recognition procedures to the justification of qualifications requirements in regulating professions.

The European Commission adopted a legislative proposal aiming to address the highlighted issues on 19 December 2011. Proposed new measures include the introduction of European Professional Cards and e-government facilities, as well as a mutual evaluation of regulated professions.

Given the relevance of the proposal for growth, the Annual Growth Survey 2012 proposed that it should be fast-tracked, and the European Commission would encourage the co-legislators to work towards agreement on this proposal by the end of 2012.

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