EU Green Paper on modernising the professional qualifications directive

18 July 2011
In January this year we sought our members' views on the EU legislation that regulates nurse education across Europe and recognition of professional qualifications to allow health professionals and others to practise in another EU country. We had over 500 responses to that questionnaire and would like to thank all of you who responded. The European Commission has now issued a Green Paper with options for revising the rules including language testing, alerts on fitness to practise, and updating the minimum education requirements for nurses.

This RCN briefing pulls out the key issues in the Green Paper and the options not previously addressed.

There is a particular focus in the Green Paper on health professionals, as they come under a more detailed automatic recognition system within the legislation underpinned by minimum standards, rather than the “general” system which covers professions which have not harmonised their training. Qualifications of “nurses in general care” (in UK adult nursing), midwives, doctors, pharmacists, dentists, veterinary surgeons and architects are covered by the harmonised automatic recognition system. Any other professional qualifications are covered by the general system, including UK children’s, mental health and learning disability nursing.

The Green Paper builds on the initial responses to the European Commission in March of which at least half came from professional organisations, with a very high response from the UK. Forty percent of the responses came from the health sector.

If you have any comments or wish to contribute further, please email

Page last updated - 07/09/2015