Quinn hopes to simplify EU-wide recognition of state qualifications


Attempts will be made to make “significant progress” on easing the red tape involved in having professional qualifications recognised between EU member states, during the Irish presidency of the union.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn yesterday set out the educational priorities for the State’s six-month EU presidency. 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; and 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,” a Department of Education spokeswoman said.

Ireland hoped to secure a first reading of the directive with the European Parliament during its presidency, contingent on a number of factors and key stakeholders, she added.

The EU directive on the recognition of professional qualifications came into force in October 2007. It provides mechanisms for the recognition of professional qualifications which are required 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 they are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Other priorities for Ireland’s presidency include combining seven EU and international Erasmus schemes for education, training youth and sport.