CLEAR News Summer 2004


International News

European Union Directive on Recognition of Professional Qualifications Clears First Hurdle
A revised version of the proposed European Union Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications has cleared the first hurdle in The European Parliament en route to its adoption. On February 11, the plenary of the parliament approved the measure on its first reading, while May 18 saw the Competitiveness Council agree to the proposal despite opposition from German and Greek delegates. 

The first comprehensive revision of the current system of recognition of qualifications in the 40-plus years since its inception, the proposed Directive is intended to replace the 15 existing Directives. Included in the proposed changes are increased liberalization of the provision of services, more automatic recognition of qualifications, and increased flexibility in the procedures for future revisions to the Directive. It would mean that professions including engineering, psychology, and real estate agents which currently have differing national education and training practices, would see increased automatic recognition of qualifications providing the criteria intended to address the differences are met.  

Revisions to the Commission�s original proposal saw Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) adopt an amendment to clarify the distinction between the definitions of "free provision of services" and "freedom of establishment", and specify that the "temporary provision of services" should take into account the presence of infrastructure, duration and main purpose of the activity, its frequency, regularity, and continuity, instead of imposing a 16 week time limit per year.

The exemption for service providers from having to register in the host member state will not apply to professions subject to "special liability". Consequently, professionals working in healthcare will need to register in the host country, through automatic temporary registration or membership of a professional organization.

The Competition Council agreed that professionals intending to provide services in another EU country for the first time may be required to inform in writing the regulatory authorities in the host country. Such a declaration could include information relating to insurance provision related to professional liability. Member States may ask for proof of nationality, an attestation certifying that the holder is legally established in a Member State, evidence of qualifications, and indication of practice for at least two years during the previous ten.

Deliberations concerning the Directive take place against a background of theoretical discussions about whether Member States should work to harmonize training and requirements for qualifications or whether it is enough to offer mutual recognition.

The Directive will receive its second reading in the European Parliament in the coming months.

Resources:
Further information:
http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/qualifications/index.htm
The text as adopted by the European Parliament (provisional version)
European Commission’s press release
European Parliament’s press release  


Post-Enlargement, European Union Provides Online Access to Rules Governing Free Movement of Persons

On May 1, 2004 the European Union admitted to membership ten new Member States. In that moment the Union expanded to 450 million citizens, each of whom is entitled to work in another Member State in the same conditions as a citizen of that country. However, during a transitional period lasting a maximum of seven years, there are new conditions governing free movement when taking up work to and from the ten new countries. The fifteen ‘established’ states have provided information about restrictions they have enacted, and these vary widely.  

The ten new Member States are Cyprus, Czech RepublicEstonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.  

More information is available at http://europa.eu.int/eures.
 

UK Health Professionals to Have Increased Prescribing Power
Prescribing rights are to be given to optometrists, chiropodists, physiotherapists, and radiographers in the United Kingdom in a bid to ensure patients receive better care, more quickly. In partnership with a doctor, practitioners would be able to manage conditions that include glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and chronic back pain. John Reid, Secretary of State for Health, said that the move “will enable more health professionals, working in partnership with doctors, to help patients get the right medicine more easily than ever before.”  

Meanwhile, the UK Government has announced that the prescribing authority of nurses is to be extended by a further 60 drugs that treat 30 conditions. Currently 180 medications are eligible for prescription by the nearly 2,000 nurses with the broadest measure of prescriptive authority, while approximately a further 25,000 have a more limited list. Conditions that may be covered by the new proposals include deep vein thrombosis, meningitis, poisoning, and substance abuse. Nursing representatives broadly welcomed the news though criticized the proposals for being too cautious. Matt Griffiths of the Royal College of Nursing noted that “we welcome the proposed additions, but we would like to see the entire British National Formulary – the drugs database – opened up to nurses.”

Resources:
UK Department of Health - http://www.dh.gov.uk/Home/fs/en
Royal College of Nursing - http://www.rcn.org.uk/
British National Formulary - http://bnf.org/Index.htm

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