Recognition of professional qualifications


The recognition of professional qualifications complements the principle of free movement of persons. It facilitates the pursuit and take-up of work as an employee or self-employed person in regulated professions.

The EEA states have primary competence for education and training. However, national regulations that only recognise professional qualifications from a particular State create obstacles for individuals with qualifications from other EEA States. The EEA Agreement provides for a mechanism for the recognition of professional qualifications and facilitation of administrative procedures.

This recognition system does not concern academic titles. This lies within the competence of the EEA States, where the universities, which are autonomous institutions, are responsible for the awarding of diplomas and certificates to students (so-called NARIC centres).

Recognition mechanism

The Recognition Directive entered into force in the EEA on 1 July 2009. It codifies previous Directives on mutual recognition, incorporates case law and introduces a number of new aspects, including simpler conditions for the cross-border provision of services. The main elements of the recognition mechanism are:

  • Sectoral recognition system: based on harmonisation of training requirements, allowing for automatic recognition of professional qualifications for doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives, veterinary surgeons, pharmacists and architects.
  • Professional experience for professions in the craft, commerce and industry sectors, also allowing for automatic recognition.
  • General recognition system: applies to all other professions and requires that where there is a substantial difference in education, the host state may require compensation measures, such as an examination or a training period.

Specific Directives have been adopted for the legal profession, for self-employed commercial agents, and for activities in the fields of commerce and distribution of toxic substances.

Relevant links

Other EEA Institutions

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