Irish qualified teachers benefit from EU directive on professions


IRISH qualified teachers are among the largest beneficiaries of EU rules guaranteeing mutual recognition of professional qualifications, according to a new report from the European Commission.

Of 5,000 migrant teachers throughout the EU whose qualifications were recognised between 1991 and 1994, more than a quarter were Irish qualified teachers in Britain.

During the same period, some 11,000 people throughout the EU had their diplomas or degrees recognised in a member state other than their own. They can do so under a 1989 EU directive aimed at encouraging the mobility of labour.

Yesterday the Commission announced it would go even further, with a new directive aimed at extending recognition provisions for commerce and craft professions. The proposal will consolidate 35 previous directives and modify recognition procedures, based largely on years of experience, to allow recognition of those without experience.

The move is likely to open up a wide range of job opportunities for Ireland's highly trained unemployed.

The Commissioner for the Single Market, Mr Mario Monti, said the initiative was aimed at making it easier for those in a range of professions to practise abroad, but should contribute to labour mobility in the EU and to fighting unemployment.

At present, a hairdresser who qualifies in Belgium is unable to work in France without three years' professional experience. The new directive will provide for recognition of the qualification within four months, subject in some cases to an aptitude test.

The new directive now goes for approval to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament under the co decision procedure.

The Commission's report on the implementation of the professional qualifications directive notes that Ireland was the first country to implement the regulation, no doubt as a substantial net exporter of skilled labour.

Ireland recognised some 899 foreign qualifications in 1993-1994, the majority being automatic recognition of 698 British engineers. Next came 85 lecturers in RTCs and then 42 secondary school teachers. Yet 1,277 Irish qualified school teachers were recognised in Britain (see table).

Britain, which has received some 55 per cent of all EU applications to date, was the largest host country for Irish people seeking and gaining recognition (1,674).

The report notes that there has been a number of complaints against both France and Germany over their failure to accept foreign teaching qualifications, and the Commission is considering enforcement proceedings in the European Court.

The Commission study finds that the bulk of migrations are due to personal reasons such as marriage, the exception being teaching in Britain.