On 9 July 2014, the Minister of the Economy designated the Intellectual Professions and Legislation Department of the Directorate General for SME Policy as the "national coordinator" of the amended directive on the recognition of professional qualifications. The aim of the national coordination is to facilitate and promote its implementation.

Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications

The main objective of the European Directive 2005/36/EC of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications is to coordinate the system of mutual recognition of professional qualifications. The directive applies to any Member State that is part of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) (EU + Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein) and Switzerland.

Its aim is to make it easier for professionals to gain access to a profession, either as a self-employed person or as an employee, in another Member State which requires a particular qualification for the pursuit of a specific professional activity.

It provides for:

  • a system of automatic recognition for a limited number of regulated professions, based on the harmonisation of minimum training conditions;
  • a system of recognition based on professional experience;
  • a so-called general system, which applies when the specific regimes do not apply.

In order to respond to the significant changes that took place in the education and training systems of the Member States, and to follow up on the various evaluations of the system put in place, Directive 2005/36/EC was comprehensively amended by Directive 2013/55/EU of 20 November 2013.

Directive 2013/55/EU of 20 November 2013 amending Directive 2005/36/EC

In addition to the customary transposition obligation, Directive 2013/55/EU includes, inter alia:

  • the introduction of the European Professional Card (EPC);
  • a clarification of the tasks of the national coordinator;
  • the introduction of an alert mechanism;
  • the obligation to have central online access to information via the points of single contact;
  • the possibility of completing or following requirements, procedures and formalities remotely and by electronic means, through the appropriate point of single contact or competent authorities;
  • the creation of assistance centres;
  • transparency obligations;
  • an obligation to report on decisions taken under the Professional Qualifications Directive.

Mission of the national coordinator

The missions of the national coordinator are to:

  • promote uniform application of the Directive;
  • gather all the information useful for the application of the Directive, in particular that relating to the conditions of access to the regulated professions in the Member States;
  • study proposals for a common training framework and common training tests;
  • exchange information and best practices in order to optimise continuing vocational training in the Member States;
  • exchange information and best practices on the application of compensation measures (adaptation period or aptitude test, in the framework of the general recognition system).

(Article 56 of Directive 2005/36/EC)

The Directive further specifies that the national coordinator may, for the performance of their tasks, call on the assistance centres referred to in Article 57b. The assistance centre for Belgium, "Be-Assist", assists citizens who are nationals of a Member State in exercising the rights conferred on them by the Directive. The Intellectual Professions and Legislation Department of the Directorate General for SME Policy is responsible for running Be-Assist.

Specific tasks of the national coordinator

The national coordinator:

  • participates in various meetings (European Commission (EC), Interministerial Economic Commission (CEI), BENELUX ...) where they put forward the Belgian point of view;
  • ensures the follow-up of the "coord.2005.36" e-mail box (on national coordination);
  • liaises between the EC and the competent bodies in Belgium in the field of professional qualifications. He or she is therefore the first point of contact for the EC, as well as for the competent Belgian authorities;
  • ensures that the competent authorities complete the database of regulated professions. They forward the information to the EC. In this database, the Member States provide more information on regulations relating to the regulated professions;
  • monitors developments in the EPC and the alert mechanism;
  • gives opinions and shares information with stakeholders on the directive and its interpretation; they deliberate with the legal service of the FPS Economy and/or the EC;
  • draws National Action Plans up and monitors their development. The EC bases itself in part on the data contained in these National Action Plans for future opinions/guidelines, etc.;
  • ensures the follow-up of BE-ASSIST: they answer questions or forward them to the competent authorities;
  • follows the Single Market Strategy: this is a new package of measures which should make life easier for businesses and professionals wishing to provide services to consumers throughout the EU. These measures, which partly originate from the above-mentioned National Action Plans, are translated into new directives or proposals for directives.

For more information

Intellectual Professions and Legislation Department

Generic e-mail of the National Coordination:

Alwin Ghyselen
+32 2 277 91 51

Muriel Vossen
+32 2 277 85 39

Last update
23 December 2020