Analysis of Professor Mario Monti’s report: “A new strategy for the Single Market: At the service of Europe’s Economy Strategy” – Some Suggestions on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications

Almost a year ago (October 2009), the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has charged Professor Mario Monti with writing a study with the objective to identify and suggest fresh ideas for a New Strategy for the Single Market of the European Union. The idea was to integrate Prof. Monti’s possible recommendations into the “Europe 2020” strategy, which aims at bolstering the economy of the European Union for the next decade.

Prof. Monti is not a newcomer to European affairs. As you know he has served from 1994 to 1999 as an European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Financial Services, Financial Integration, Custom Rights and Taxes, when the College was headed by Prof. Romano Prodi. He was also a member of the European Commission, responsible for Competition, from 2001 to 2004. Mario Monti is currently the President of the prestigious Università Commerciale L. Bocconi in Milano and one of the senior members of the leading European Think Tanks, “Bruegel”.

The professor handed in this report the 9th of May 2010. The text covers all the possible fields of relevance to the Single Market.

For our professions it is of great interest that Prof. Monti touches the issue of the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, in several parts of his text. In the following lines, we will try to outline the main ideas introduced in his study, especially with regard to our sector.

First, we shall present Prof. Monti’s ideas of the current caveats concerning the implementation of the Services Directive.

We will then discuss his conclusions on the issue of workers’ mobility, with a focus on the recognition of professional qualifications.

  1. The Single Market for Services: which problems, which options?

The sector of services is of crucial importance for European economies (approximately 70% of GDP in the European Union). Nevertheless, its markets remain strongly fragmented with only 20% of the services provided in the EU having a cross-border dimension. To cope with this issue, Prof. Monti suggests action in several directions:

  • A rapid implementation of the Services Directive: This would require more efforts from the Member States, even if the current results are rather encouraging (see CEPLIS Telegram 11/10). The European Commission has a role to play, by taking any necessary measures and maintaining pressure on the Member States, as well as by keeping the other institutions (the European Parliament, the Council) and the Stakeholders informed on an extensive basis.

  • Removing barriers to cross-border health-care provisions: the Monti report states that the market of services extend beyond the sectors covered by the current Services Directive. It proposes for areas not covered by the Directive to be given particular attention, and this especially concerns the health-care sector. Prof. Monti strongly suggests to quickly adopt the Directive proposed on Patients’ Rights in Cross-Border Health-Care.
  1. Worker’s mobility in Europe: challenges and solutions

Among other considerations, the Monti report discusses the issue of the recognition of professional qualifications. The Professor introduces the issue by stating that a major obstacle standing in the way of enhanced cross-border labour mobility is the complexity of international recognition of professional qualifications”, regretting somehow that the current automatic recognition of qualifications applies only to seven out of more than 800 professions! The former Commissioner considers that the legal framework of the Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications (2005/36/EC) needs to be clarified and strengthened.

What are his main recommendations on this issue?

  • Mario Monti feels that “The scope for automatic recognition of qualifications to new professions should be expanded to new sectors in addition to the seven professions today, targeting in particular new professions required for green and digital industries to facilitate the mobility of highly skilled workers”.

  • The study also insists on the importance of the development of a “European Skills and Competences Taxonomy”. Such a system could ensure that skills and competences of job seekers or the requirement of a job published in a job vacancy are understood in the same way everywhere in Europe and are easily transferable.

  • A number of several other very specific recommendations are included in the study: Remove tax obstacles to cross-border work; Strengthen the transparency in the recognition of qualifications and skills, and developing national qualifications systems.

In the past Mario Monti has made himself known as a fierce opponent of professional regulations the later being considered by him as an obstacle to the realization of the single market and to the freedom of competition. The report he has proposed as Commissioner responsible for Competition has created a lot of controversy and the professions had to use all their friends notably within the European Parliament in order to underline their specificities as a not-only-for-profit sector. This new report brings ideas that could potentially be beneficial to our sector but is not empty of possible dangers either. The challenge is here to work towards a more efficient system of mutual recognition without losing sight of the need to constantly remind the Commission of the special role our professions are called to play as intermediates between the citizen and the democratic state and as warrants of public health.

A thorough discussion of the report – possibly with the participation of MEPs in the framework of a coming CEPLIS seminar might help us better identify the optimal way to profit from Monti’s proposals by ‘picking the bad cherries’ of the report…

To consult the report, please go to