Members of the European Parliament succeeded in delivering a clear picture of their expectations concerning overhaul of Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications, a technically complicated and politically sensitive issue. The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) voted, on 23 January, in favour of upward harmonisation of professional qualifications in the EU. Compared with the proposal presented by the European Commission in December 2011, it tightened up certain provisions and made others more flexible.

"The vote reflects Parliament's will to improve the tools of the 2005 directive and to propose new ones to encourage and protect Europeans' professional mobility. We hope to set up a genuine tool for European citizenship," commented rapporteur Bernadette Vergnaud (S&D, France).

Predictably, MEPs validated the introduction of a European professional skills card to make administrative formalities easier, a measure they backed. It will take the form of an electronic certificate issued by the home country and will be based on the Internal Market Information (IMI) system(1), which has been revised along these lines. MEPs clarified the deadlines on the member state of origin for verifying the appropriate qualifications and the applicant's right to practice before issuing the card. An automatic alert system operating through the IMI will signal any disqualifications in a member state of health or security-related professionals. Guarantees of the presumption of innocence were added.

In another innovation, "partial access," meant to facilitate the recognition of professions that are not professions in other states, will be impossible for professions for which there is automatic recognition (seven of the 800 regulated professions) and if the professional is not fully qualified in the state of origin. Only a competent authority may refuse access and may do so on overriding reasons of general interest.

The directive will in the future concern all traineeships for which...

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