The Professional Qualifications Directive from 2005 is since 2011 under revision and a final step in this process was completed on June 12th, 2013. The European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on the revision of the Professional Qualifications Directive, COM (2011) 883 – 2011/0435 (COD). The Directive’s text is not legally adopted yet, however it will remain due to the reached agreement until it is formally adopted by the co-legislating institutions. The following issues are of interest for the European Junior Doctors:
European Professional Card (EPC)
The final text foresees this card as a voluntary alternative to the regular regime of recognition. While the time frames for the regular recognition regimes remain mostly the same, the authorities of the home and host country have different tasks to fulfill depending on which procedure was chosen. The regime of recognition by using the European professional card can only apply to professionals if Members States requested the introduction.
Under the procedure of recognition by using the European professional card regime, the home Member State is obliged to confirm the receipt of the application for the issuance of a professional card within one week (art. 4 b (3). The home Members State creates a personal file in the Internal Market Information System (IMI) for the applicant and has to verify if all sent-in documents are valid and authentic within one month (art. 4d I). Right afterwards the home Member State has to transmit the application to the host Member State.
For professions of the automatic recognition like doctors, the host Member State has to confirm the receipt of the application (Art. 4 d (2)) and decide about the issuance of the European professional card which means the recognition of its qualification within one month. The competent authorities in the host Member State can extend the deadlines about two weeks in case of duly justified doubts. For example, the extension is needed to ensure public health or the safety of the future recipients of the services needs to be guaranteed.
Moreover, the aspect of a ‘tacit recognition’ was included into the text (art. 4 d (5)). If a competent authority fails to act within given timeframes, the profession will be automatically recognized and the European professional card automatically issued as well as sent to the applicant by IMI. However, art. 4a IV 2 clarifies that this procedure applies only to the recognition of a profession, which does not automatically constitute the license or right to practice.
For being able to practice in the host member state, additional language tests may be required (by the Member State).
The principle of partial access was introduced in the Directive under article 4f and allows the host Member State to limit the pursuit of a regulated profession to the knowledge gained during the training in the home Member State. This is the case, if the training of a regulated profession in the home Member State differs so much from the host Member State that the applicant would need to undergo the full education program to compensate the differences.
However, professionals who fall under the automatic recognition of the Directive, such as doctors, are exempt from the possibility of being granted partial access. Therefore, many healthcare professionals will probably be exempted from the mechanism of partial access.
Basic medical training - The text agreed upon sets out that the basic medical training has to consist of 5.500 hours and takes a minimum duration of five years. The text is complemented by Recital 13a which clarifies that, although the minimum duration was cut from six of five years, the minimum training requirements of 5.500 hours remain unchanged.
Specialist medical training - There were no changes made compared to the Directive in force. The requirements and the duration on specialist medical training are set out in Annex V of the 2005 Directive.
Common training framework - This instrument in article 49a will not apply to professions subject to automatic recognition and therefore, will not be relevant for the basic medical training of doctors. Although it is applicable to professional specializations which are not covered by Annex V and in fact, common training frameworks could be established for the professional specialization of doctors. The common training framework only set out minimum standards and does not replace the national training programs, unless a Member State decides otherwise. Moreover, the Member States have the right to an opt-out mechanism on a case-by-case basis.
The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection agreed on the outcome of the trialogue negotiations on July 9th, 2013. The final vote in the plenary of the European Parliament is scheduled for October 2013. The formal adoption by the Council is not yet scheduled but will take place in autumn 2013. After the scheduled formal adoption the new Directive would enter into force in late 2013 or early 2014, with a transposition period of 2 years for Member States to implement its provisions in national law.
The final text of the political achieved agreement on the revised Directive can be found in the annex.