The automatic recognition of qualifications
Advert

The automatic recognition of qualifications

In terms of EU law, nurses, midwifes, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, architects and veterinary surgeons are entitled to have the professional qualifications obtained in any one member state automatically recognised in another. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

In terms of EU law, nurses, midwifes, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, architects and veterinary surgeons are entitled to have the professional qualifications obtained in any one member state automatically recognised in another. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Dental and medical academic qualifications obtained in any one member state must be automatically recognised in another member state, even if the type of training obtained is not permitted in the host member state, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has recently affirmed. This is so, provided that the minimum training criteria laid down by EU law are fulfilled.

In terms of EU law, nurses, midwifes, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, architects and veterinary surgeons are entitled to have the professional qualifications obtained in any one member state automatically recognised in another. In practical terms, this means that if any such professional is interested in working in any member state other than their home State, they could simply apply to the authority of the host State that oversees the profession in the country in question to have their qualifications recognised. 

The facts of this case were briefly as follows. In 2013, the Italian Ministry of Health upheld the request by an Italian citizen, to recognise his qualification in order to practise as a dentist in Italy. The qualification had been issued by a Medical University in Austria.

In 2014, the individual in question submitted a request to the ministry for the recognition of another qualification issued by the same university in order to also practise as a surgeon. Austrian law permits the concurrent enrolment in two courses. The individual in question had therefore enrolled in two courses simultaneously and was awarded both degrees after undertaking numerous examinations. Italian law expressly prohibits the concurrent enrolment in two courses and imposes an obligation to undertake full-time training. The ministry refused to recognise both qualifications on the ground that the EU law regulating the recognition of qualifications relating to these two professions does not provide that a person can undertake two training courses at the same time. Following such a refusal, the individual filed an action before the Italian national courts contesting the decision of the Italian authorities.

Right to freedom of movement is safeguarded at all times

The national court filed a preliminary reference before the CJEU requesting guidance as to whether EU law obliges a member state, whose legislation makes specific provision for full-time training and for a specific prohibition of simultaneous enrolment in two courses, to automatically recognise the qualifications issued by another member state after partially concurrent training. The court also queried whether, where a qualification has been issued following part-time training, the host member state, that is, in this case Italy, can verify compliance with the condition that the overall duration, level and quality of part-time training are not lower than those of continuous full-time training.

The CJEU observed that, in so far as the professions of doctor and dentist are concerned, EU law creates a system for the automatic recognition of qualifications, based on minimum training conditions established by mutual agreement between the member states. The court affirmed that this same law permits member states to authorise part-time training, so long as the overall duration, level and quality of such training are not lower than those of continuous full-time training. It also does not preclude member states from authorising simultaneous enrolment in different training courses. The overriding condition is solely that the requirements of EU law in relation to training are met.

A member state must, therefore, automatically recognise the evidence of formal qualifications issued by another member state, even if its own legislation makes provision solely for full-time training and a prohibition of simultaneous enrolment in two courses.

The CJEU then went on to affirm that it is for the home member state, that is in this case Austria, and not the host member state, to ensure that the conditions relating to overall duration, level and quality of the part-time training are not lower than those of continuous full-time training, and, that all the legal conditions found in the EU law in question are complied with. It went on to explain that, if this were not the case, the EU’s legal system for the automatic and unconditional recognition of evidence of formal qualifications would be seriously jeopardised. Member states cannot at their discretion question the merits of a decision taken by the competent authority of another member state to issue those qualifications, the CJEU concluded.   

The mutual recognition of qualifications by member states is a sine qua non condition for EU citizens to be able to garner all the advantages of living in a single market and work in any member state of their choice. A wide interpretation given by the CJEU to the EU’s legal framework is indispensable in ensuring that European citizens’ right to freedom of movement is safeguarded at all times.

Mariosa Vella Cardona M’Jur, LL.D., is a freelance legal consultant specialising in European law, competition law, consumer law and intellectual property law.

mariosa@vellacardona.com

Comments not loading? We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox with javascript turned on.
Comments powered by Disqus  
Advert
Advert