First and Second Diplomas Directive
This chapter summarises the background to mutual recognition of education and training systems across Europe and describes briefly some of the initiatives which have been undertaken to provide for academic and professional recognition.
The concept of free movement—whether for the purposes of study, for employment or indeed to live—is fundamental to the Community without frontiers. Facilitation of free movement for the purposes of employment (professional recognition) and/or study (academic recognition) is achieved through the acceptance of the individual’s capability—usually expressed in terms of a qualification or involvement in a course of study and/or experience.
Barriers to freedom of movement may derive from issues of nationality, rights of entry and residence, and from legal provisions within Member States. Equally they may be due to simple lack of understanding across Member States of each other’s education and training systems.
All of this was recognised in the Treaty of Rome and further developed in the EU Treaty. The legal base lies largely within four chapters of Part II, Title III, of the EC Treaty of Rome (1957) covering free movement of workers, establishment, services and goods. This is where the underpinning for the Department for Education and Employment work in implementing Directive 92/51/EEC (Second Diploma or General Systems Directive) can be found. Within this section of the Treaty, Articles 57, 66 and 49 provide for professional recognition. Discrimination based on nationality is outlawed through Articles 48, 52 and 59 of the EC Treaty (1957). Right of entry and residence—based on Articles 49 and 56 of the Treaty—were guaranteed when the Transitional Directives (described later) came into being in the 1960s and 1970s.
Understanding the provision for professional recognition may be helped by a brief description of the relevant articles as set out below.