Diploma Recognition

Despite the limited competences for education at the EU level, functional spillover from the free movement provisions occurred early on. To achieve free movement of persons in the internal market it was necessary to harmonise certain aspects of access to individual professions and therefore, inter alia, to harmonise professional recognition[1] of diplomas to guarantee access to regulated professions.[2] A regime of directives based on what is now Article 53 TFEU has been passed in this respect, which have later been consolidated into Directive 2005/36/ EC.[3] Additionally, the Court has made it clear[4] that Member States should check the substantive comparability of qualifications received in another Member State in cases not covered by secondary law.[5]

It is generally assumed that academic diploma recognition cannot be harmonised on the basis of Article 53 TFEU since the internal market competences are regarded as having strict functionality and, therefore, not allowing abstract content or structural harmonisation, especially if the strict subsidiarity of Articles 165 and 166 TFEU is taken into account.[6] Academic recognition thus still takes place according to national law, potentially influenced by the Bologna Process, which will be discussed below (Sect. 2.2.3). The only other requirements arising from primary EU law concern cases where both academic and professional recognition are possible. Here, the migrant may not be forced to choose and if one form of recognition has been obtained, the other can still be sought at a later stage under certain circumstances. In particular, when academic recognition is requested for professional reasons in addition to professional recognition, it cannot be denied. Also, if academic recognition has been obtained, but does not in itself give access to the profession, professional recognition can be additionally demanded.[7]

  • [1] Professional recognition allows the migrant the right to carry the title of the profession, butnot the host state’s academic title, Hummer 2005, p. 67.
  • [2] Regulated professions can, according to national law, only be executed after the fulfilment ofcertain qualifications, Hummer 2005, p. 61.
  • [3] Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications OJ [2005] L 255/22.There have been additional amendments since. A consolidated version of Directive 2005/36/EC canbe found on http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:02005L0036-20140117.
  • [4] See C-340/89 Vlassopoulou (Judgment of 7 May 1991, EU:C:1991:193). This has recentlybeen reaffirmed in C-298/14 Brouillard (Judgment of 6 October 2015, EU:C:2015:652) andC-342/14 X-Steuerberatungsgesellschaft (Judgment of 17 December 2015, EU:C:2015:827).Further on the latter two cases and the inconsistency with the Court’s own procurement andemployment decisions see Gideon 2016.
  • [5] On diploma recognition see further Hummer 2005, p. 60 seq; Van der Ploeg and Veugelers2007, p. 22 seq; Garben 2010, p. 191. For a more extensive discussion see Schneider 1995.
  • [6] Hummer 2005, p. 58 seq. See also Garben 2010, p. 191 seq; Garben 2011, p. 186 seq whothinks that a different interpretation would be possible and a CJEU judgement would be neededfor clarification.
  • [7] Hummer 2005, p. 67 seq.
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