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Briefing: professional recognition in a no-deal Brexit

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In response to queries about professional recognition in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit, the following briefing from UK NARIC's Centre for Professional Qualifications (CPQ) may be helpful.

In the event of 'no deal', the UK Government has prepared legislation to update the UK’s current transposition of the MRPQ (Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Directives, as well as an Explanatory Memorandum. Supplementary legislation has also been prepared to cover particular professions, such as those in the health and care sector. The UK Government has confirmed the following in the event of 'no deal':

  • Decisions taken on the recognition of EEA or Swiss professional qualifications by citizens in the UK prior to withdrawal continue to apply;

  • Applications in process on exit day should be concluded, where possible, in accordance with MRPQ;

  • Applications commenced after withdrawal will be subject to the provisions within the draft legislation.

Currently Directive 2005/36/EC, as modified by Directive 2013/55/EU, provides for the conditions under which professional qualifications are recognised for citizens wishing to enter the majority of regulated professions in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. The MRPQ Directive provides two routes to recognition, and two regimes.

At the point of application, professionals should declare whether they are seeking recognition for the purpose of establishment, or to practise on a temporary and occasional basis.

The majority of professions are covered by the 'general system', which lays out the process for recognising professional qualifications and provides for enforcing compensation measures where there are differences between the qualifications held and standards required.

Seven professions – the so-called 'sectoral professions' of architect, dental practitioner, doctor, midwife, nurse, pharmacist and veterinary surgeon – are covered by an automatic recognition system based on holding qualifications that meet harmonised minimum training conditions.

Eligibility for seeking professional recognition upon withdrawal will be determined by holding a qualification from the EEA or Switzerland, rather than the nationality of the holder being from an EEA State or Switzerland.

Regulators must then determine whether the qualifications are at the same level as the required UK qualifications and are comparable in terms of the qualification requirements and standards.

Where qualifications are lower than UK standards, substantially different with regard to skills, competences and knowledge, or where the UK profession has professional activities not covered in the Home State, then a qualification may not be considered comparable.

The obligation to follow the Home State’s decisions regarding the level of EEA and Swiss qualifications will be removed, and therefore the UK regulator can determine the comparable level of qualifications it receives.

The drafted legislation removes obligations to provide compensation measures, partial access and a process for providing services on a temporary and occasional basis. Since access to the Internal Market Information System (IMI) would be withdrawn upon exiting the European Union, access to the Alert Mechanism and the European Professional Card will also be removed, although regulators are encouraged to communicate by alternative means as far as possible.

The European Commission has prepared a Notice to Stakeholders concerning the recognition of UK qualifications. This notice confirms the following:

  • Decisions taken on the recognition of UK professional qualifications prior to withdrawal continue to apply;

  • From the withdrawal date, the recognition of UK professional qualifications is no longer covered by MRPQ;

  • From the withdrawal date, applications for recognition made by UK nationals, or requests to provide services on a temporary and occasional basis, are subject to national policies and rules.

UK NARIC is well placed to assist UK regulators in the event of 'no deal', having over 20 years’ experience in providing advice and guidance on the comparable level of international qualifications to UK standards, and considerable experience in determining whether the scope of international qualifications meets UK requirements regarding knowledge, skills and competences.

UK NARIC is pleased to be attending the Regulator Forums organised by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy during February 2019, which will cover changes to the MRPQ Directive implementing legislation in the UK after March, as well as the future of international arrangements on the recognition of professional qualifications.

For further information on the regulation of professions in the UK, EEA and Switzerland, please contact UK NARIC’s Centre for Professional Qualifications:

29/01/2019 16:44:00