General system for the recognition of professional qualifications
The general system applies when a Member State requires a qualification in order to practise a profession on its territory, with the exception of the professions already covered by a sectoral directive.
This system applies to all the regulated professions not covered by specific rules of recognition and to certain situations where the migrant professional qualification does not meet the conditions set out in other recognition schemes. The general system is based on the principle of mutual recognition, without prejudice to the application of compensatory measures if there are substantial differences between the training acquired by the person concerned and the training required in the host Member State. The compensatory measure may take the form of an adaptation period or an aptitude test. The choice between one or other of these measures is up to the person concerned unless specific derogations exist.
When, in a host Member State, access to or pursuit of a profession is regulated, i.e. subject to possession of specific professional qualifications, the competent authority in this Member State is to allow access to the profession in question and pursuit thereof under the same conditions as for its nationals, provided that the applicant holds a professional qualification obtained in another Member State which attests to a level of training at least equivalent to the level immediately below that required in the host Member State.
When, on the other hand, in the applicant's Member State, access to a profession is not subject to possession of specific professional qualifications, in order to be able to gain access to the profession in a host Member State which does regulate that profession, the applicant has to provide proof of two years' full-time professional experience over the preceding ten years on top of the qualification.
The Directive distinguishes five levels of professional qualifications:
attestation of competence issued by a competent authority in the home Member State attesting either that the holder has acquired general knowledge corresponding to primary or secondary education or has undergone training not forming part of a certificate or diploma, or has taken a specific examination without previous training, or has three years' professional experience;
certificate, corresponding to training at secondary level, of a technical or professional nature or general in character, supplemented by a professional course;
diploma certifying successful completion of training at post-secondary level of a duration of at least one year, or professional training which is comparable in terms of responsibilities and functions;
diploma certifying successful completion of training at higher or university level of a duration of at least three years and not exceeding four years;
diploma certifying successful completion of training at higher or university level of duration of at least four years.
The host Member State can make recognition of qualifications subject to the applicant’s completing a compensation measure (aptitude test or adaptation period of a maximum of three years) in the following three cases:
the training is at least one year shorter than that required by the host Member State;
the training received covers substantially different matters from those covered by the evidence of formal training required in the host Member State;
the profession as defined in the host Member State comprises one or more regulated professional activities which do not exist in the corresponding profession in the applicant’s home Member State, and that difference consists of specific training which covers substantially different matters from those covered by the migrant's training.
The Directive allows representative professional associations at both national and European level to propose common platforms to compensate for the substantial differences identified between Member States' training requirements. The platform is a way of ensuring that additional measures are not imposed on those concerned, while at the same time guaranteeing an appropriate qualification level. The platform is a kind of predefined compensatory measure. The Commission will report to the European Parliament and the Council on the common platforms at the end of 2010.
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