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Amendments to Professional Qualifications Directive Introduce European Professional Card

Recent developments in EU law have the potential to impact ENEP’s project to introduce a common accreditation award for environmental professionals. The Parliament has voted in favour of making changes to the Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive 2005, which includes the introduction of a European Professional Card. As a result of the change, the European Commission is now calling for an expression of interest from organisations and associations who wish to participate in the formation of the a European Professional Card.

Background

The Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive 2005 has undergone important changes following a vote in the European Parliament on 9th October 2013. The Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive currently provides for automatic recognition of qualifications for seven professions, mainly health professionals and architects. The Directive also sets out general criteria for the recognition of other qualifications and professional experience. On the 9th October 2013 the European Parliament voted in favour of amending the Directive to create a European Professional Card system. EU Ministers in the Council will formally adopt the resolution shortly.

The Commissioner for Internal Market Michel Barnier welcomed the parliamentary vote in a statement made 09.10.2013. It is hoped that the text adopted by the Parliament will make it easier for professionals wish to establish themselves in another member state to have their qualifications recognised

The European Commission expects the ‘Amending Directive’ to be adopted either this year or early 2014, likely deadline for transposition into the member states’ national law by 2016.

How the card will function

A presentation from DG Internal Market on the proposed functioning of the card

The purpose of the European Professional Card is to simplify the recognition process and to introduce cost and operational efficiencies that will benefitprofessionals and competent authorities.

The card should make it easier for professionals who wish to establish themselves in other member state to have their qualifications recognised. It will be voluntary instrument available for those professionals who express an interest in participating.

Commission call for interest

The new law will set out strict criteria for which professions can benefit from the card. Therefore, the Commission is restricting participation on the following criteria based on Article 4a(7) of the text adopted by the Parliament proposal:

  • There is significant mobility or potential for significant mobility in the profession concerned;
  • There is sufficient interest expressed by the relevant stakeholders
  • The profession or the education and training geared to the pursuit of the profession is regulated in a significant number of Member States.

The deadline for sending expressions of interest is no later than 22th 22.th November 11.2013.

Professional organisations and associations applying for the card have also been invited to present briefly their structure in order to allow the Commission to evaluate their representativeness.

Once interested professionals are identified the Commission intends to set up a focus group to play an active role in the forthcoming discussions.

Next steps for ENEP

As an association at the EU level representing the interests of 45,000 professionals across Europe, ENEP is reviewing the expression of interest process as part of its work on accreditation.

ENEP has been monitoring these developments, and attended a hearing in April 2012 as part of the process.

As part of the on-going work of the accreditation task force, ENEP would like hear from members and member associations in relation to how a professional card may be implemented in the member states.

From on-going discussions during the negotiations of the amended Ddirective it has become apparent that specific professions such as architects, engineers and lawyers could be those professions to be treated as a priority for this card.

ENEP is currently working on creating a common Code of Conduct for its members. The code aims to be an external facing document that expresses shared values and work ethics of the environmental profession. The code will underline the professional qualifications of the expert working in the environmental sector on a European level.

ENEP members wishing to contribute should email ENEP at project.assistant(AT)efaep.org and simon.pascoe(AT)efaep.org