Effects of Brexit on practising veterinary medicine in Finland

Brexit means the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The United Kingdom (“UK”) on 29 March 2017 invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union to begin its withdrawal from the EU. This meant that, unless a deal was agreed before 30 March 2019 or Brexit was postponed, no primary or secondary legislation of the EU would apply to the UK after 30 March 2019 (00.00 am CET). This included Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications (“Professional Qualifications Directive”), which regulates the recognition of veterinary surgeons’ qualifications in other EU/EEA member states.

EU leaders decided in April of 2019 to postpone the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. Currently, the UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October 2019. If the UK Parliament approves the negotiated deal, however, Brexit can happen even earlier. For the latest developments, see Preparedness notices https://ec.europa.eu/info/brexit/brexit-preparedness/preparedness-notices_en.

More information is also available on the website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

The Finnish Food Authority generally recommends all veterinarians who have received or are about to receive their degrees from the UK and who also wish to practise in Finland to apply for their veterinary surgeon’s licence no later than 31 October 2019. Applications can be submitted to the Finnish Food Authority’s registry (kirjaamo@ruokavirasto.fi) and updated as and when necessary.

We have also compiled a list of frequently asked questions about the effects of Brexit on the recognition of UK qualifications:

1. I am a Finnish citizen. I have received my degree in veterinary medicine in the UK, and I was licensed to practise veterinary medicine in the UK before 31 October 2019. Can I have my degree automatically recognised in Finland?

The Finnish Food Authority recommends applying for a licence in Finland before 30 October 2019. However, Finnish citizens and citizens of other EU/EEA member states than the UK can also have their qualifications recognised in Finland without additional requirements after 31 October 2019 provided that they have commenced and completed their degrees in full before 31 October 2019. The Finnish Food Authority states that the key issue is the status of the country in which the qualification was obtained at the time of graduation. Graduates who both began and completed their studies before 31 October 2019 are deemed to have obtained their qualification when the UK was still a member of the EU and therefore qualify for automatic recognition regardless of when they apply for a licence in Finland.

2. I am a British citizen. I have a degree in veterinary medicine from the UK, and I was licensed to practise veterinary medicine in the UK before 31 October 2019. Is my degree automatically recognised in Finland if I apply for a licence in Finland before 31 October 2019? What is my status if I do not apply for a licence in Finland until after 31 October 2019?

2.1. Applications for recognition filed on 30 October 2019 at the latest

British citizens who apply for a licence in Finland on 30 October 2019 at the latest are still deemed to be EU citizens at that time. As these applicants will also have completed their studies while the UK was still a member of the EU, they still qualify for automatic recognition and do not need to satisfy any supplementary training conditions or language requirements.

2.2. Applications for recognition filed on or after 30 October 2019

The system of automatic recognition of professional qualifications in another EU/EEA member state, such as Finland, only applies to qualifications obtained in another EU/EEA country while that country was a member of the EU/EEA. Moreover, the system of automatic recognition is, as a rule, only reserved for citizens of EU/EEA member states.

British citizens who apply for a licence in Finland after Brexit will no longer be EU citizens and therefore will not, as a rule, benefit from the system of automatic recognition even if they completed their studies while the UK was still a member of the EU. There are a few exceptions, however: for example, applicants who have resided in Finland for a long period of time may still qualify for automatic recognition on that basis.

3. I am about to receive my degree in veterinary medicine in the UK, but I will not get my diploma until after 31 October 2019. Can I have my degree recognised in Finland without supplementary training?

If the UK leaves the EU on 31 October 2019, it will no longer be an EU member state but what is referred to as a third country. This means that individuals who graduate in veterinary medicine in the UK after 31 October 2019 can no longer have their qualifications automatically recognised in Finland and, instead, veterinary surgeons’ qualifications obtained from British institutions after 31 October 2019 will be deemed to have been obtained in a third country.