The Nordic Region needs to play catch up!
The Committee for Growth and Development in the Nordic Region is calling for progress towards automatic and mutual recognition of higher education qualifications throughout the Nordic, Baltic and Benelux countries.
Automatic recognition of Nordic citizens’ educational and vocational qualifications in parallel areas would remove one of the serious barriers to cross-border freedom of movement in the Nordic Region. It would remove differences in validation processes, streamline administration and create jobs.
The problem is that both vocational and educational qualifications are regulated differently in the various Nordic countries. This means, for example, that a qualification that fulfils the requirements in one country does not necessarily fulfil them in another Nordic country.
At present, it is up to the various official agencies to evaluate applicants’ educational and vocational backgrounds in relation to the country’s regulated professions. Official agencies can place demands on individual applicants for further qualifications and work experience. In practice, the requirements can be so wide-ranging and the process so complex and extensive that it acts, in effect, as a rejection.
In the border area between Sweden and Denmark alone, complex validation processes prevent about 25,000 people from commuting across the Sound. This is one of the conclusions reached in Damvad Analytics' report from 2017 Samhällsekonomisk analys av gränshinder Kostnader för Greater Copenhagen (Socio-economic analysis of barriers to cross-border freedom of movement. Costs to Greater Copenhagen).
In the border area between Sweden and Denmark alone, complex validation processes prevent about 25,000 people from commuting across the Sound.
Others have made more progress
In 2018, the Baltic and Benelux countries entered into agreements on automatic and mutual recognition of higher education qualifications. Now, they want to go further and look at whether it would be possible to do the same for qualifications in the regulated professions.
“Since the Baltic and Benelux countries have managed to achieve automatic and mutual recognition of their higher education qualifications, it really is incumbent on the Nordic Region to play catch up,” says Pyry Niemi, chair of the Committee for Growth and Development in the Nordic Region.
The Nordic countries have a long tradition of working together on the basis of trust. In this light, the Committee for Growth and Development in the Nordic Region believes that it is difficult to see any good reason why the Nordic Region should not be able to enter into similar agreements to those reached by the Baltic Council of Ministers and the Benelux Union. Such an agreement would also be in line with the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Mobility Action Plan 2019-2021 which has the same ambition.
“The Committee is pleased to note the ambition of the Nordic Council of Ministers and sees this proposal from the Nordic Council as a support for this work going forward. We fully expect that we will soon see results that will make day-to-day life easier for Nordic citizens when they relocate to or work in another Nordic country,” says the Åland representative Mikael Staffas (Centre Group).
The proposal was adopted unanimously by the Committee for Growth and Development in the Nordic Region and will now be submitted to the Nordic Council Session in Stockholm at the end of October for a final decision.
We fully expect that we will soon see results that will make day-to-day life easier for Nordic citizens when they relocate to or work in another Nordic country.