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Italy: Decree to Implement European Legislation on Cooperation for Recognition of Professional Degrees

(Mar. 15, 2016) On January 28, 2016, Italy passed new legislation aimed at increasing administrative cooperation for the mutual recognition of academic degrees at the European Union level. (Legislative Decree No. 15 Implementing Directive 2013/55/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, Amending Directive 2005/36/EC, on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications and Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on Administrative Cooperation Through the Internal Market Information System (‘the IMI Regulation’) (L. D. No. 15), GAZETTA UFFICIALE, No. 32 (Feb. 9, 2016), NORMATTIVA (in Italian); Directive 2013/55/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 Amending Directive 2005/36/EC on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications and Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 on Administrative Cooperation Through the Internal Market Information System (‘the IMI Regulation’), 2013 O.J. (L 354) 132.)

European Professional Card

The new legislation deals with the recognition of professional degrees already acquired in another EU country that allow the person to practice his profession in his country of origin, with the purpose of allowing access to a regulated profession in Italy. It also establishes the criteria for the recognition of professional internships carried out by Italian citizens in another EU country.  (L.D. No. 15, arts. 1(1) & 2(1).) The legislation refers to the “European Professional Card,” which is defined as “an electronic certificate proving either that the professional has met all the necessary conditions to provide services in a host Member State on a temporary and occasional basis or the recognition of professional qualifications for establishment in a host Member State.”  (IMI Regulation, art. 3(a)(ii)(k).)

The law clarifies that certain professionals (nurses responsible for general assistance, pharmacists, physical therapists, alpine guides, and real estate agents) who desire to practice their profession freely or to exercise their right to establish their practice in another EU country may request a European Professional Card (L.D. No. 15, art. 6(1)(3)) or comply with specific criteria for the recognition of professional qualifications established under the national law of another EU Member State. (IMI Regulation, art. 4d(6).)  The European Professional Card does not confer an automatic right to exercise a profession if there are registration requirements or other control procedures already in force in the host member state enacted before the introduction of the use of a European Professional Card to confer recognition of the profession in question. (L.D. No. 15, art. 6(1)(5).)

Knowledge of Italian

The law establishes a system to verify knowledge of the Italian language by non-Italian professionals who seek to exercise their profession in Italy. (Id. art. 9(1).)  Italian professional orders and organizations must inform the competent authorities of other EU Member States, by means of alert messages, of measures that restrict or impede a person, even if temporarily, from exercising a profession totally or partially in Italian territory.  (Id. art. 10(1).)

Alert messages received from the competent authorities of other EU Member States must be promptly handled by the Italian Department of European Policies. (Id. art. 10(5).)  All information related to other non-Italian EU professionals who seek to establish services in Italy may be received in electronic format by the Department.  (Id. art. 16(1)(c).)  If necessary, the Department may request authenticated copies of the documents related to a person whose professional degree has been restricted or denied recognition. (Id.)

Internships

The legislation also provides that if access to a regulated profession in Italy is subject to the completion of a professional internship, the authority competent to recognize the professional status of the interested person must recognize a professional internship carried out in another EU Member State, provided that specific criteria established in the legislation are met. (Id. art. 17(1).) The Ministry of Education is directed to issue guidelines concerning the organization and recognition of professional internships performed in another state, whether European or non-European. (Id. art. 17(3).)

Training

The Education Ministry and the Health Ministry inform the European Commission of the measures adopted to ensure continuous professional training for professionals whose degrees are regulated in the new legislation. (Id. art. 26(1)(f).)  The legislation includes specific rules for the validation of academic credentials for specialized physicians, nurses, veterinarians, gynecologists, and architects.  (Id. arts. 28(1)(b), 30-31, 34, 35-38, & 41, respectively.)

Automatic Recognition of Professional Degrees

The new legislation also includes provisions on the automatic recognition of professional degrees based on a “common training framework” as defined by the competent authorities. (Id. art. 44(1)-(2).) The Council of Ministers’ Department for European Policies must send the European Commission a list of the national degrees covered by the new legislation and, if applicable, the national professional degrees that fall within the “common training framework” for purposes of the automatic recognition of other European professional degrees in Italy. (Id. art. 44(1)(3).)