The Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC)

The Professional Qualifications Directive; 2005/36/EC, came into force in 2007 and aims at facilitating the mobility of skilled workers to other EU countries and making the European labour market more flexible.


What does the Directive regulate?

The Professional Qualifications Directive regulates issues of skilled workers who wish to exercise their profession outside their home country or the country they received their education from. The Directive provides for:

  • A special scheme for temporary mobility of skilled professionals
  • Regulations for professionals who want to settle and work permanently in another EU country
  • A system of recognition of language skills
  • A system for the recognition of professional and academic titles across the European Union
  • The Directive clarifies three different types of recognition of qualifications:
    • Automatic recognition for professions whose training conditions have been harmonized by all Member States (this applies to health professionals, veterinary surgeons and architects)
    • General recognition for other regulated professions that fall not under automatic recognition
    • A recognition scheme based on professional expertise and working experience


Modernisation of the Professional Qualifications Directive

Since the labour markets are changing rapidly and the education systems change as well, amendments were not sufficient anymore to modernize the Directive. Therefore, the European Commission proposed a revision of the 2005-Directive in December 2011. The Commission’s aim is to further simplify the European-wide recognition of professional qualifications and to facilitate the access to skilled jobs abroad for professionals. The proposal for a modernized Directive includes the following provisions:

  • The introduction of a European Professional Card which facilitates the professional recognition abroad and increases transparency of the process
  • The Regulations for common and minimum training standards in professional education
  • An advanced system of recognition of language skills
  • An effective alerts system about professional malpractice, especially in the health sector
  • A simplification of the procedures for recognition of professional qualifications

However, the new Directive is not into force yet. Currently, it is still under negotiation in the European institutions.


What implications do these Directives have for doctors?

The regulations most relevant for doctors are:

  • Doctors have to fulfil minimum training standards in order to be recognized Europe-wide
  • The process of the recognition of professional qualifications expected to become more transparent and simpler
  • The doctors will be subject to the envisioned alert system about professional malpractice
  • The regulations on language skills apply to doctors

The specific implications that the new Directive will have on doctors remains to be seen. They depend on the outcome of the negotiations between the EU institutions which are not concluded yet.