What is a common training framework?
A common training framework (CTF) is a system for recognising professional qualifications required for entering a regulated profession.
A CTF is a common set of minimum knowledge, skills and competences needed to practice a specific profession in participating EU countries. Individuals that hold a qualification that meets the framework’s conditions can get it automatically recognised in participating EU countries that regulate the profession.
These EU countries must treat qualifications that meet the framework's training criteria the same as the qualifications they issue domestically. This is similar to the automatic recognition system in place for several health professions and architects under the Professional Qualifications Directive (Directive 2005/36/EC).
CTFs can be created where existing common aspects of training and regulation are identified and agreed on by at least 9 EU countries. As of 2023, no CTF has been adopted.
CTFs facilitate free movement without harmonisation
A CTF aims to facilitate the recognition of professional qualifications between EU countries that have restrictions on entering a profession (i.e. existing regulatory measures). If no regulation is in place, professionals can freely establish themselves and provide services across borders in the EU without the need for requesting a formal recognition of their qualifications.
CTFs cannot harmonise education or the regulatory frameworks that determine conditions for practising regulated professions. They also do not replace an EU country’s qualifications or training programmes. Instead, their purpose is to facilitate free movement. This is achieved by participating EU countries reaching an agreement on certain minimum common aspects of training and regulation.
Professional mobility and shared characteristics in education and regulation across EU countries
- Substantial alignment: there must be substantial alignment in education curricula, training standards and regulatory frameworks in at least 9 EU countries.
- Mobility: the profession should demonstrate a notable level of professional mobility or the potential for increased mobility, justifying the need for measures that simplify administrative procedures and facilitate mutual recognition of qualifications across borders.
Legal eligibility criteria for creating a CTF under the Professional Qualifications Directive
- Improved mobility: the CTF should enable professionals to move more freely and gain access to practise their profession in other EU countries.
- Regulation of a profession: the profession or the education and training leading to it must be regulated in at least 9 EU countries.
- A common set of knowledge and skills: the CTF should encompass knowledge, skills and competences required by the educational and training systems in at least 9 EU countries.
- Alignment with the European Qualifications Framework: the CTF should be aligned with the levels of the European Qualifications Framework.
- No overlap: the CTF should not overlap with another CTF or concern a profession that is subject to automatic recognition
- Transparent process: CTFs should be developed through a transparent process involving the groups and individuals concerned.
- No membership or registration requirements: nationals from any EU country should be eligible to acquire the professional qualification under the CTF without having to be a member of or register with a professional organisation beforehand.
Creating a CTF
A CTF can be created by a Commission delegated act.
Proposals can be submitted to the Commission by EU organisations representing professions, national professional organisations and the competent authorities of at least 9 EU countries. There should be mutual exchanges between professionals organisations and competent authorities.
EU countries are regularly consulted and briefed on CTF proposals and initiatives through the Group of Coordinators for the recognition of professional qualifications.
CTFs can play a significant role in facilitating the cross-border recognition of qualifications for selected professions. Only professions that already show significant alignment in terms of education and regulatory frameworks across EU countries are suitable candidates for a CTF. Article 49a of the Professional Qualifications Directive sets out the conditions and procedures for creating a CTF.
In the European Commission, Unit Skills, Services, Professions (D.1) in Directorate General for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) is responsible for adopting and implementing CTFs. Due to the high volume of suggestions received, the Commission can only explore suggestions for professions that meet both the eligibility and selection criteria.