FREE MOVEMENT: RECOGNITION OF PROFESSIONAL
Letter from the Chairman to Margaret Hodge
MBE MP, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning and Higher Education,
Department for Education and Skills
Sub-Committee F (Social Affairs, Education and
Home Affairs) considered the proposal at its meeting on 15 May.
The Committee welcomes this attempt to simplify and consolidate
existing legislation and case-law on the recognition of professional
qualifications in the European Union. In its recent report entitled
Working in Europe: Access for All (15th Report,
session 2001-02, HL paper 88), the Committee stressed the need
for a simplified, transparent and flexible regime of professional
recognition in the regulated professions as a means of enhancing
labour mobility within the EU.
The Committee notes that, along with consolidating
existing legislation, the draft Directive includes a series of
innovations. While at first sight these innovations seem helpful,
their exact scope is at times unclear. We would therefore be grateful
to receive your comments on the following matters.
Free movement of services
The Committee welcomes the flexible regimes
envisaged for service providers but notes that the provisions
of services is somewhat artificially distinguished from establishment
through the use of a 16-week per year threshold. Is the Government
satisfied with the use of this criterion? Article 5(2), on the
other hand, does not preclude assessment on a case-to-case basis:
would this allow periodic activities exceeding the 16-week threshold
to be classified as services in certain circumstances?
In your Explanatory Memorandum, you refer to
the need to strike the right balance between free movement and
public health and safety protection. We would welcome any concrete
examples of how public health and safety might be compromised
by the current draft and any views on how these potential challenges
might be addressed.
Freedom of establishmentcommon platforms
The proposal innovates in establishing a flexible
mechanism of co-operation between the Commission and the professional
associations in Member States in putting forward "common
platforms", setting out criteria which, if fulfilled by the
applicant's qualifications, would enable the requirement for compensatory
measures by the host Member State to be waived. It is however
unclear how this assessment is going to be made: will it be done
by the Commission itself, the Committee referred to in Article
54, or the authorities of the host Member State?
Freedom of establishment-knowledge of languages
The Committee welcomes the incorporation of
ECJ case-law in Article 49 of the draft Directive, requiring that
knowledge of the language of the host Member State must be proportionate
to the practice of the beneficiaries' profession. We further note
that, where appropriate, it is for the host Member State to ensure
that the applicant can acquire the necessary knowledge of the
language. What is the cost, if any, of such obligation to the
Member States involved? Is the Government prepared to accept this
provision as it currently stands?
The Committee on the recognition of professional
The Directive states that this Committee is
there "to assist" the Commission and the Commission's
EM adds that that the Committee "can also be seized of all
questions concerning the working of the Directive" (p 15).
But its exact tasks are far from clear. You note in your Explanatory
Memorandum that the full implications of this development will
need to be discussed in detail. We would welcome any further information
on the role, powers and functions of this body.
The Committee decided to retain the document
under scrutiny pending clarification of these points.
16 May 2002
Letter from the Chairman to Ms Margaret
Hodge MBE MP, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning and Higher
Education, Department for Education and Skills
Thank you for your letter of 3 July regarding
the above proposal. Your detailed response has been very helpful
to Sub-Committee F in its examination of the proposal and is greatly
We note that a number of important points (such
as the balance between free movement and the protection of public
health) are still in need of clarification. The Committee supports
the introduction of safeguards on these matters and welcomes your
commitment to keep us informed of progress during negotiations.
The Committee decided to clear the present document from scrutiny,
but will, of course, wish to follow further developments closely.
18 July 2002