Working in the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland

European Union

The EU Directive 2005/36/EC is the piece of legislation which regulates the mutual recognition of professional qualifications by member states of the European Union, both in terms of basic medical qualifications and speciality medical training. The official designation for formal qualifications of specialist physicians in each of the 27 member states is listed in Annex V of the Directive 2005/36/EC [PDF].

If you would like to complete your speciality training within another EU or EEA country, you should first discover if the training complies with the basic requirements of Directive 2005/36/EC and if the speciality qualification you will attain at the end is listed in Annex 5 under your country of origin as well as under the EU Member State in which you wish to train. Here you will find lists of the evidence of formal qualifications in basic medical training, speciality training and the body awarding the qualifications.

Physicians who have completed their basic medical training in Germany or another EU Member State have the right to practice their profession anywhere within the European Union once they have registered with the relevant responsible authority of the country. This also applies to specialists once they have registered with the responsible authority for issuing licences to practise and had their speciality qualifications assessed for conformity by the relevant national or state body.

The national contact points for Directive 2005/36/EC are listed on the website of the European Commission. It is usually advisable to contact the national ministry for health regarding authorisation to practise medicine.


Systems of recognition in the EU

The professional qualifications for certain categories of physicians are listed in Annex C of Council Directive 93/16/EEC and Annex V of the Directive 2005/36/EC [PDF]. There are two systems for the recognition of qualifications; the principle of automatic recognition and the general system for the recognition of evidence of training.

In the case of automatic recognition, the applicant must be an EU national and their speciality qualification with a stated minimum period of training must be listed in Annex 5 under the country of origin as well as the destination country.

Specialist diplomas which do not appear in this list under the relevant member state cannot be automatically recognised. In such instances, the content and duration of the speciality training conducted in the country of origin will be assessed in order to determine whether it corresponds to the speciality training regulations of the destination country. In certain cases, physicians may be required to bring their qualifications up to standard through, for example, extra clinical work or the completion of a test.


European Economic Area (EEA)

Increasingly close cooperation, including the signing of free trade agreements, between the European Community and EFTA from the early 1970s onwards laid the foundations for the European Economic Area (EEA). The signing of the Agreement founding the EEA by the Member States of the European Community and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in May 1992 created a new basis for this cooperation. It came into force on 1 January 1994 (1 May 1995 for Liechtenstein).

In the meantime, almost all former EFTA states have become members of the EU, so that the EEA Agreement now extends only to Iceland, Liechtenstein und Norway. Bilateral agreements between the EU and Switzerland also contain comparable provisions.

There are currently 30 states within the European Economic Area, forming the largest connected, internal market in the world stretching from the Arctic to the Mediterranean and from Portugal to Poland. The members of EFTA, with the exception of Switzerland, adopted the internal market regulations of the European Union and all relevant legislation. As a consequence, the freedom of movement of goods, persons, services and capital also stretches across these states

Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland signed the new EEA agreement concerning Directive 2005/36/EC on 1 January 2010. Detailed information may be found on the website of the European Free Trade Association.

The new EEA agreement concerning Directive 2005/36/EC, also signed by Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland, entered into force on 1 July 2009. Detailed information may be found on the website of the European Free Trade Association.

The population of Switzerland, a member of EFTA, voted in a referendum not to become a member of the EEA.


Member States of the European Union and the European Economic Area

Austria Belgium Bulgaria
Cyprus Italy Sweden
Denmark Latvia Slovakia
Germany Lithuania Slovenia
Estonia Luxemburg Spain
Finland Malta Czech Republik
France Netherlands United Kingdom
Greece Poland
Hungary Portugal
Ireland Rumania


Information on the Member States of the EU can be found on the website of the European Commission in its Europa portal.


Switzerland

Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications came into effect in Switzerland on 1 November 2011.

The free movement of persons and the mutual recognition of professional qualifications in Switzerland are governed by the bilateral Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the free movement of persons [PDF] of 21 June 1999 which entered into force on 1 June 2002. Annex III of this agreement was replaced by Decision No 2/2011 [PDF] which was published in the official journal of the European Union (L 277/20) on 22 October 2011. This led to the provisional adoption and application of Directive 2005/36/EC by Switzerland on 1 November 2011.

Please note: The legislative procedure to implement Title II (Free Provision of Services) of Directive 2005/36/EC into Swiss law is still ongoing. According to the Swiss national contact point for Directive 2005/36/EC, the consolidated version of the Directive [PDF] from 24 March 2011 will be largely adopted.