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Launch of the European Professional Card: A Step Towards the EU-Wide Recognition of Qualifications

20 January 2016

The European Professional Card (EPC) is a key element of Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications. It is intended to make it easier for professional qualifications to be recognised across the EU, in line with the Single Market Strategy’s goal to enable Europeans to work wherever they choose, anywhere in the EU.

Following a public consultation launched in April 2014 on introducing the EPC for seven professions to assess its usefulness and potential impact in EU countries, the European Commission adopted an implementing Regulation in June 2015 on the procedure for issuing this Card, which came into force on 18 January 2016.

In spite of its name, the EPC is not a card, but an electronic certificate issued via the first EU-wide fully online procedure for the recognition of qualifications, which is based on the well-established Internal Market Information System (IMI) and allows professionals to communicate with the relevant authorities inside a secure network.

The EPC will not replace the ‘traditional’ recognition procedures under the Professional Qualifications Directive, but it does offer many advantages for professionals who wish to work either temporarily or to establish themselves permanently in another EU country. One of the advantages of this card is that professionals can apply for it online with their home authority in any EU official language. In addition, this card will save professionals a lot of time as the information that has already been stored in the system does not have to be re-uploaded for future applications.

For the time being the EPC is only available for the following 5 professions: general care nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, real estate agents and mountain guides, but it may be extended to other professions in the future. Other professionals will continue to rely meanwhile on the standard recognition procedures.

More information on how to apply for this Card can be found at Your Europe portal.