Aerospace engineers will be freer to move throughout the European Union under new laws on recognition of qualifications.

The European Federation of National Engineering Associations (FEANI) is to recommend that its Eur-Ing qualification for professional engineers be made the standard for all EU countries. The move comes after a plan to mandate a five-year degree course for engineers was rejected by the European Parliament last month. The assembly has asked FEANI to define a compulsory common standard acceptable to all employers.

Any EU citizen can work in any other EU country, but some professions, including engineering, often fall foul of national laws requiring a recognised diploma, says Engineering Council UK's head of international recognition team Jim Birch. The problem is particularly acute in Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain, where legal cases have been filed by engineers seeking equal treatment, he adds.

Without recognition, aircraft engineers from one EU country are unlikely to perform final sign-off in another and in some cases are paid less than their indigenous counterparts, says Birch. Aircraft maintenance companies are most affected, as they have fewer senior personnel to sign forms. Airbus welcomes the move, as around 25% of its employees work in countries different to those where their diplomas were earned. Its intra-company transfers are based on employment records.

New legislation will oblige employers in any EU country to accept engineers with recognised qualifications. An amendment to the bill, which proposed a common standard based largely on academic studies, was rejected last month. The bill's draftsman, Stefano Zappala, accused Irish and UK opponents of the bill of being "arrogant" and wanting to "export the UK system to the rest of Europe". The German engineers' association VDI supports a broader definition, including an assessment of professional competence, as German universities are moving towards three-year engineering degrees coupled with several years' mentoring.

FEANI is to propose the voluntary Eur-Ing code to become the common standard, which should be approved by trade ministers during the last quarter and should be law by 2006.


Source: Flight International