On October 26, 2010 the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) of the European Parliament held a debate between Members of European Parliament (MEPs) and national Members of Parliament (MPs) on the issue of qualifications directive " The internal market for professionals: how to make it work? Improving the Recognition of Professional Qualifications".
In this context Mr. Patrick Fortuit was invited to participate as an expert thanks to his coordinator role for the evaluation of the Directive for pharmacists. Mr. Fortuit presented the work carried out within the working group representing the pharmacists’ competent authorities of 27 member states. He also presented the main conclusions of the synthesis and in particular points on which improvements of the Directive for pharmacists are required:
- skills and training (updating the content of initial training which foundations date from 1985),
- greater cooperation between competent authorities .
To mark this event, Ms. Gros Pedersen presented the study conducted by the European Parliament on the Directive on recognition of professionals’ qualifications. This study aimed to analyse the challenges of recognition of qualifications in four professions: nurses, architects, engineers and tourist guides. The main conclusions of this study are the following:
- lack of awareness of the Directive for professionals;
- difficulties for authorities to identify their counterparts;
- support of the IMI initiative;
- professional cards could help to accelerate the recognition of professional qualifications;
- as part of free provision of services, states have mostly use prior statements;
- recognition of qualifications is difficult for professions not harmonized at European level.
Mr. Willi Fuchs, representative of the German engineers presented the perspectives of engineers within the Directive. He explained that the European Association of Engineers, FEANI, adopted on October 1, 2010, at its annual general meeting in Sofia, the principle of a European card for engineers called « engineerING card ».
Mr. Tony Hazell (President of the College of Nursing and Midwifery of Great Britain) intervened as expert for the nursing profession. He presented the main conclusions of the work for nurses:
- the need to review the initial training in line with the new responsibilities;
- the need to introduce the concept of continuing education in the directive;
- the issue of language knowledge of the host country.
Cooperation between the competent authorities has also been at the heart of the debate. The IMI system has been praised repeatedly. Commissioner Michel Barnier at the conclusion of discussions wished to move towards a stronger cooperation between the authorities and in particular to a proactive cooperation particularly with regard to health professionals so that warning mechanisms exist.
The professional cards have been widely discussed. Commissioner Michel Barnier, who was speaking at the conclusion of the discussions, insisted strongly on this issue (see extract below). On his initiative a steering group will be set up on this subject since January 10, 2011.
Concluding the debate, Ms Bernadette Vergnaud, MEP, Vice-President of the Parliamentary Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), said it was necessary to examine the conditions for mobility of professionals to provide legal certainty for youth and professionals. She also stressed that it was necessary to deepen the reflection on the free service.