EPRSauthor By / March 26, 2014

Recognition of professional qualifications

This keysource aims at giving an overview of how Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications has been implemented…

© treenabeena / Fotolia

This keysource aims at giving an overview of how Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications has been implemented but also highlighting the important issue of extending the scope of the system to more professions.

Recognition of professional qualifications
© treenabeena / Fotolia

There are three avenues for the mutual recognition of qualifications in the EU: automatic recognition , the general system and recognition of professional experience.

The directive provides for automatic mutual recognition of qualifications for the following seven out of a total of 800 professions: doctor, nurse responsible for general care, dental practitioner, veterinary surgeon, midwife, pharmacist and architect. The goal of the recognition of professional qualifications is to assist workers in certain occupations to get their skills more easily accepted in another EU country. The idea is that if there were more professions that were recognized, it would be beneficial for the economic situation in the EU.

In November 2013 was published the Directive 2013/55/EU amending Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications. This modernisation is one of the twelve levers for growth set out in the Single Market Act and aims at further facilitating professional mobility across the EU.


Providing the inventory of reserves of activities linked to professional qualifications in 13 EU Member States and assessing their economic impact – study, CSES, 2012, 163 p. (Annex & Summary). It provides a comprehensive inventory of the current reserves of activities in three economic sectors (construction, business services, tourism) and 13 Member States. It also assesses the economic impacts of these reserved activities, notably in terms of market structure, productivity, turnover, and employment.

Evaluation of the Legal Framework for the Free Movement of Lawyers – study, Panteia & University of Maastricht, 2012, 304 p. This study evaluates the legal framework for the free movement of lawyers in the Single Market. In its assessment, it takes into account recent regulatory and market developments which affect the practice of the legal profession, the trends in the mobility of lawyers and the application of the Directives.

Study evaluating the Professional Qualifications Directive against recent educational reforms in EU Member States: Revised Final Report, GHK & Danish Technological Institute (DTI), October 2011. [Summary] It assesses to what extent European policies and related national developments in the area of education and training may have an impact upon the functioning of the Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications; and examine whether certain aspects of these policies should be integrated into the ‘acquis’ on professional qualifications.

Stakeholder positions

New EU law on mobility of health professionals across Europe: What this means for the NHS, October 2013.

Mobility of health professionals across Europe, NHS European Office, October 2013.

Recognition of professional qualifications – joint letter: ETUC, ETUCE, EPSU, Eurocadres and CEPLIS, 2012.

The patient perspective on the Professional Qualifications Directive, EuroHealth, 2012 [see p. 18].

European professional qualifications as recognition of the EU society: Implementing cards for the recognition of professional qualifications – a multi-stakeholder approach to enhance mobility, Eurocadres, 2011.

A guide to the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU, Conseil Européen des Professions Immobilières (CEPI), 2010, 11 p.

The mobility of professionals in practice: a report on the recognition of professional qualifications, Citizens Signpost Service, 2010, 21 p.

EU Institutions’ views

European Commission:

COM/2013/0676 final – Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and social Committee on evaluating national regulations on access to professions, 02/10/2013.

Scoreboard on the Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC) – Second version, 15 April 2010, 5 p.

Modernisation of the Professional Qualifications Directive – frequently asked questions.

European Parliament:

Recognition of professional qualifications and administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System, A7-0038/2013, 9 October 2013.

Mutual recognition of professional qualifications: MEPs strike deal with Council.

Further reading

Modernisation of the Professional Qualifications Directive – F.A.Q.

International qualifications, CEDEFOP, 2012, 89 p. This study aims to contribute to a wider discussion on how the reach and popularity of international qualifications may affect two European initiatives: the European qualifications framework (EQF) and the European classification of skills / competences, qualifications and occupations (ESCO).

Recognition of professional qualifications, European Parliament Policy Department A, October 2010 It analyses the challenges to the recognition of qualifications for four ‘mobile’ professions where problems are reported most regularly: Nurses, Architects (both automatic recognition) and Civil Engineer and Tourist Guides (mutual recognition or general system).

See also some EPRS material

Recognition of professional qualifications, EPRS Briefing, 2013.

State of play of the European Qualifications Framework implementation, EPRS Key Navigator, 2013.

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