Compromise reached on Professional Qualifications Directive

The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee of the European Parliament (IMCO) adopted on 10 July the final text of the Professional Qualifications Directive. The European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement in this review.

EPF welcomes this draft Directive as a step forward for patients’ safety. The final compromise contains key provisions that EPF had advocated for in our advocacy work throughout the legislative process:

  • Language requirements: The Directive will clearly allow competent authorities to carry out language control on professions which have implications for patients’ safety. This control should happen before the professional is allowed to practice. This is very much in line with the position EPF advocated. The language check should seek to determine how well professionals can communicate, both orally and in writing, for the purposes of exercising their professional activity, in particular with regard to patient safety and safeguarding public health. 
  • Alert mechanism: The Directive will put in place an alert mechanism for authorities to notify each other when professionals of the so called “sectoral” healthcare professions (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and midwives) apply for recognition even though they have been restricted or prohibited to practice. It also includes cases where professionals submit false diplomas.
  • Fitness to practice: The draft Directive requires Member States to take measures to encourage continuous professional development of healthcare professionals.  However the Commission’s original proposal to have a publicly available report on these measures every five years was not adopted.  EPF fought for more cooperation and exchange of best practices between Member States in this area which is crucial for patient safety. Partial access to a profession without full qualification will not be possible for sectorial healthcare professions, which was also a position we upheld during the discussions.

The final compromise does however contain provisions where we had reservations. For instance, regarding the proposal for a European professional card, EPF is concerned  that it allows for tacit recognition of healthcare professionals’ qualification when the competent authority does not give an answer within the Directive’s timeframe. This may undermine patients' safety.

The text now needs to be adopted in Plenary at the European Parliament. The vote is scheduled for October 2013, and the Council is also expected to formally adopt the text before the end of the year. EPF will provide further details once the final compromise is published.

For more information, please contact our Policy Officer, Laurène Souchet, at