Green Paper is aimed at gathering stakeholders’ views on a modernisation of the Professional Qualifications Directive (Directive 2005/36/EC). Download GREEN PAPER - Modernising the Professionnal Qualifications Directive.
This Directive, adopted in 2005, sets the rules for mutual recognition of professional qualifications between Member States. Beyond a few innovations, it mainly consolidated and simplified 15 previous Directives, some of which dated back to the 1960s.
The reform of the system of recognition of professional qualifications as a means to facilitate mobility is one of the priority actions proposed by the Commission in the Single Market Act. With the view to preparing this reform, the Commission wishes to consult stakeholders on new approaches to mobility ways to build on achievements and on the modernisation of the automatic recognition. Submition of contributions by 20 September 2011.


EU citizens (this also concerns third country nationals who enjoy rights under European legislation: family members of EU citizens, long term residents, refugees, and “blue card” holders are treated in the same way as EU citizens with respect to recognition of professional qualifications) providing a wide range of professional services to consumers and business are essential stakeholders in our economy. Gaining employment or providing services in another
Member State is a concrete example of how they can benefit from the Single Market. It has long been recognised that restrictive regulation of professional qualifications has the same stifling effect on mobility as discrimination on the grounds of nationality. Recognition of qualifications obtained in another Member State has thus become a fundamental building block of the Single Market. As highlighted in the Europe 2020 Strategy (Communication from the Commission Europe 2020, A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth - COM(2010) 2020, 3.3.2010) and the Single Market Act (Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European economic and social Committee and the Committee of regions, Single Market Act, Twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence, "Working together to create new growth" - COM(2011) 206, SEC(2011) 467), professional mobility is a key element of Europe's competitiveness. Burdensome and unclear procedures for the recognition of professional qualifications were identified in the EU Citizenship Report 2010 (EU Citizenship report 2010 "Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens' rights" - COM(2010) 603, 27.10.2010) as one of the main obstacles EU citizens still encounter in their daily lives when exercising their rights under EU law across national borders. A modernisation would also strenghten the position of the European Union in international trade negotiations making regulatory convergence easier, and allowing the EU to obtain better market access in third countries for EU citizens.
Mobility of professionals is still low in the EU. The number of complaints, SOLVIT cases and questions raised with Your Europe Advice and analysis of these cases provide clear evidence of a need to modernise the rules. In addition, intra-EU trade in services (including professional services) represents only about 25% of overall trade within the EU. This share is far too low when considered against the background of the overall importance of the services sector to the EU economy (70% of GDP). More can be achieved.
Increased mobility would also respond to the challenge of filling high-skill jobs, as the active population declines. According to the projections of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), 16 million more people will be needed to fill high-skill jobs by 2020 (Skill supply and demand in Europe: medium-term forecast up to 2020 (2010), available at, which under current trends will lead to severe shortages of qualified professionals. Some of these skills shortages could be filled by people with professional qualifications obtained outside the EU, who currently face major problems in having their qualifications recognised.
A projected shortage of one million health professionals is of particular concern. How countries can better manage mobility of health professionals by further strengthening their general workforce policies, and further elaborating workforce planning mechanisms will be subject of separate action by the Commission and the Member States (A further issue concerns sea-related regulated professions where the Commission intends to publish in 2012 a Communication on Blue Growth, sustainable growth from the oceans, seas and coasts. The Commission is, in that perspective, interested to understand whether in this area any specific obstacles to mutual recognition can be identified).
Enabling citizens to realise their individual right to work anywhere in the EU must been seen in this wider context. To take full advantage of the freedom of movement, professionals must have their qualifications easily recognised in other Member States (Difficulties linked with the recognition of professional qualifications are one of the obstacles to professionals mobility within the EU, along others such as portability of pension rights, language barriers etc). It is therefore essential that the Professional Qualifications Directive (Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications (OJ L 225, 30.9.2005, p. 22) sets out clear and simple rules for the recognition of professional qualifications. At the same time, the rules must ensure high quality of services without themselves becoming an obstacle to mobility. The European Union has already achieved a lot in this area: some professional qualifications, notably in the areas of health, architecture, crafts, trade and industry are subject to automatic recognition; for all the other professions, the principle of mutual recognition on the basis of a “general system” has been introduced successfully. In 2005, these rules were complemented by a new lighter regime to facilitate temporary mobility. These rules benefit millions of professionals in Europe. It is estimated, that the system of automatic recognition on the basis of harmonised minimum training requirements alone applies to 6.4 million citizens (Internal Market Scoreboard, July 2010).
In March 2010, the Commission launched an evaluation of the Directive which mobilised many stakeholders: around two hundred competent authorities drew up experience reports in 2010 and around four hundred participants gave their views in a public consultation in early 2011. The Green Paper builds on this evaluation. It presents new ideas for facilitating mobility in the Single Market, such as the European Professional Card; it explores ways to build on achievements (see part 3); and it sets out the options for the modernisation of automatic recognition (see part 4). A broad consultation on these ideas will help the Commission to assess the various options for the modernisation of the Professional Qualifications Directive. A legislative proposal to modernise the Directive is planned for the end of 2011.


The Commission invites all interested parties to submit their contributions by 20 September 2011, preferably by e-mail to the following address: DG Internal Market and Services, Unit E-4 "Free movement of professionals". E-mail: Postal address: European Commission, Internal Market Directorate General, Unit E-4, Rue de Spa 2, Office 06/014, 1049 Brussels, Belgium.
Contributions do not need to cover all of the questions raised in this Green Paper. They can be limited to questions of particular interest to you. Please indicate clearly the questions to which your contribution relates. If possible, please give specific arguments for or against the options and approaches presented in the paper. All contributions will be published on the DG Internal Market and Services website unless a contributor requests otherwise. It is important to read the specific privacy statement attached to this Green Paper or information on how your personal data and contribution will be dealt with.