Quinn outlines presidency priorities
The Irish EU presidency hopes to make "significant progress" on easing the "red-tape" involved in having professional qualifications recognised between member states.
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn today set out the educational priorities for the State’s six-month EU presidency, which began yesterday.
The move could see an EU-wide professional card introduced and would simplify the process of having qualifications recognised for EU citizens migrating to other member states. It would also provide better information and strive to protect consumers. It would particularly aim to protect patients in relation to the language skills of doctors and nurses.
The European Commission began work on modernising the 2005 professional qualifications directive in 2010. Among its proposals for changes to the directive are: The introduction of a European professional card to allow qualifications to be recognised more quickly; greater transparency on regulation and the number of regulated professions; clarifying language requirements for applicants; introducing alerts for professionals convicted of an offence or suspended.
"Ireland is generally supportive of the Commission’s proposals as they should lead to a reduction in red-tape faced by citizens moving between member states, lead to greater transparency regarding the level of regulation in member states and allow consumers to have greater confidence in professionals, particularly in the health sector," a Department of Education spokeswoman said.
Making "significant progress" on the proposal to amend the directive would be one of the priorities of the Irish presidency, she said.
It hopes to secure a first reading of the directive with the European Parliament during the presidency, contingent on a number of factors and key stakeholders, she said.
The EU Directive 2005/36 on the recognition of professional qualifications came into force in October 2007. It provides mechanisms for the recognition of professional qualifications which are required in order to pursue a regulated profession.
In the case of the “sectoral” professions - such as doctors, vets, architects, pharmacists, nurses, midwives and dentists - it provides for automatic recognition of qualifications based on the harmonised minimum training requirements. All other qualifications are recognised through the general system, where qualifications are assessed on a case by case basis.
Other priorities for Ireland's EU presidency include combining seven EU and international Erasmus schemes for education, training youth and sport. It is hoped the Erasmus for All scheme will begin in 2014 and will make it easier to apply for grants and reduce duplication.
The presidency will also focus on improving policy support for teachers, to improve access to third level education for students from disadvantaged background.
"Improving training, skills and access to education will play a critical role in equipping citizens, particularly young people, to find work and in attracting investment into the EU,” Mr Quinn said in a statement. "I am determined to work towards preventing the development of a lost generation with the negative long-term personal and social consequences that would have for all Europeans."