Refusal to recognise degrees conferred by university in another EU country through local educational body authorised by that university violates freedom of establishment or freedom to provide services

April 11, 2003

Luxembourg, 10 April 2003

C-153/02, Valentina Neri v European School of Economics

Opinion of Advocate General Jacobs on 10 April 2003 (link to English version when available). Full text

This case concerns a private educational organisation, registered as a company in the United Kingdom, which provides teaching at various centres, some of which are in Italy. The teaching in question is approved and monitored by an English university and leads to a degree awarded by that university, in accordance with the applicable United Kingdom legislation. However, under the Italian rules as applied at the material time, that degree is not recognised in Italy if it is awarded to an Italian citizen on completion of the course of study in Italy

Advocate General Jacobs concluded:

(1) A national rule or administrative practice under which degrees awarded to a Member States own nationals by a university in another Member State cannot be recognised when the relevant course of study was not undertaken in the Member State in which the university is established, and which thereby lessens the attractiveness of arrangements by which such a university may approve, for the purposes of awarding its degrees, courses of study offered by other educational organisations and followed in the Member State which applies that rule or practice, is such as to constitute a restriction on the freedom of establishment enshrined in Article 43 EC and/or, as the case may be, the freedom to provide services enshrined in Article 49 EC. Such a practice cannot be justified if it precludes any verification, with a view to recognition, of the standard of education to which each degree attests.

(2) Council Directive 89/48/EEC of 21 December 1988 on a general system for the recognition of higher-education diplomas awarded on completion of professional education and training of at least three years' duration does not apply to situations in which a person is not yet in possession of a diploma of higher education.

(3) Council Decision 63/266/EEC of 2 April 1963 laying down general principles for implementing a common vocational training policy does not impose any binding rules on Member States, nor does it apply to situations in which a person does not seek to study outside his or her home Member State.

European Court of Justice, Advocate General's opinion 10 April 2003

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