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despi­te the many efforts made in this area, previous
report­ing has shown that actu­al reco­gni­ti­on practice
com­mon­ly falls short of expec­ta­ti­ons with regard to
trans­pa­ren­cy, con­sis­ten­cy and fairness”.4
Accor­din­gly, the EHEA Minis­te­ri­al Con­fe­rence in
Paris 2018 con­firm­ed that it will “work to ensu­re that
com­pa­ra­ble hig­her edu­ca­ti­on qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons obtai­ned in
one EHEA coun­try are auto­ma­ti­cal­ly reco­gni­zed on the
same basis in the others for the pur­po­se of accessing
fur­ther stu­dies and the labour market.”5
The­se state­ments – tog­e­ther with cur­rent evaluations
of reco­gni­ti­on prac­ti­ce – illus­tra­te that the desired
“auto­ma­tic reco­gni­ti­on” is not rea­li­ty yet.
The­r­e­fo­re this artic­le will out­line the sta­tus quo of
legal rules con­cer­ning reco­gni­ti­on in the EHEA, identify
some sel­ec­ted pro­blems with the imple­men­ta­ti­on of
the­se rules and final­ly try to con­clude whe­ther and how
they can be sol­ved. In doing so it will focus on problems
occu­ring when reco­gni­ti­on for the pur­po­se of further
Rena­te Penßel
The Reco­gni­ti­on of Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Diplo­mas and
An over­view of the legal frame­work and dis­cus­sion of prevailing
obs­ta­cles for „auto­ma­tic“ aca­de­mic reco­gni­ti­on from the perspective
of Ger­man law1
1 This artic­le is based on a pre­sen­ta­ti­on the aut­hor held at the
„Second Vien­na Con­fe­rence on Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Law and the
Manage­ment of Sci­en­ces“ in Febru­ary 2019, hos­ted by the Institute
for Euro­pean and Inter­na­tio­nal Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Law, SFU
Vien­na. The style of a pre­sen­ta­ti­on is part­ly kept.
2 Euro­pean Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (ed.), The European
Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Area in 2018: Bolo­gna Pro­cess Implementation
Report, 2018, p. 13.
3 Bolo­gna Pro­cess Imple­men­ta­ti­on Report (fn. 2), p. 142.
4 Ibid.
5 Euro­pean Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Area Minis­te­ri­al Con­fe­rence 2018,
Paris Com­mu­ni­qué, 25th of May 2018,
final_952771.pdf (15.2.2020), p. 2. The­r­ein the Ministerial
Con­fe­rence refers to the objec­ti­ve, for­mu­la­ted within the
Yer­e­van Com­mu­ni­qué 2015,
(15.2.2020), that „by 2020 (…) auto­ma­tic reco­gni­ti­on of qualifications
(should have) beco­me a rea­li­ty“; s. also its commitment
11 „to ensu­re that qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons from other EHEA count­ries are
auto­ma­ti­cal­ly reco­gni­zed at the same level as rele­vant domestic
qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons“, p. 5.
Ord­nung der Wis­sen­schaft 2020, ISSN 2197–9197
1 0 2 O R D N U N G D E R WI S S E N S C H A F T 2 ( 2 0 2 0 ) , 1 0 1 – 1 1 4
6 The aut­hor fol­lows tho­se who argue that for acti­vi­ties in the field
of (regu­lar, i.e. not extra-occu­pa­tio­nal) hig­her edu­ca­ti­on, Art.
165, not Art. 166 TFEU, is per­ti­nent (see e.g. Ruf­fert, in: Calliess/
Ruf­fert (eds.), EUV/AEUV, 5th ed., 2016, com­ment 12 seq. with
fur­ther refe­ren­ces con­cer­ning this dis­pu­te, also to the opposite
7 See also e.g. Nie­do­bi­tek, in: Streinz (ed.), EUV/AEUV, 3rd ed.,
2020, Art. 165 com­ment 61; Ruf­fert, in: Calliess/Ruffert (eds.),
EUV/AEUV, 5th ed., 2016, com­ment 22.
8 In this respect it would not make a dif­fe­rence if in mat­ters of
hig­her edu­ca­ti­on Art. 166 ins­tead of Art. 165 TFEU would be the
appro­pria­te pro­vi­si­on: Art. 166 TFEU also limits the competence
of the EU to „sup­port“ and „sup­ple­ment“ (see para­graph 1) and
excludes any har­mo­niza­ti­on of the laws and regu­la­ti­ons of the
Mem­ber States.
9 Gar­ben, The Bolo­gna Pro­cess: From a Euro­pean Law perspective,
Euro­pean Law Jour­nal, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2010, pp. 186 (193 seq.);
refer­red in Gideon, The posi­ti­on of hig­her edu­ca­ti­on institutions
in a chan­ging Euro­pean con­text, JCMS 2015, Vol. 53, No. 5,
pp. 1045 (1047).
10 It is doubtful whe­ther this would be lawful, becau­se tho­se measures
based on Art. 115 TFEU would under­mi­ne the restrictions
for­mu­la­ted in Art. 165 I, IV TFEU. Whe­re­as Gar­ben, The Bologna
Pro­cess (fn. 9), pp. 193 seq. argues against an interpretation
of Art. 165 IV TFEU as an abso­lu­te limi­ta­ti­on to harmonization,
Hablit­zel, Har­mo­ni­sie­rungs­ver­bot und Sub­si­dia­ri­täts­prin­zip im
euro­päi­schen Bil­dungs­recht, DÖV 2002, 407 (409) argues for it.
stu­dies is sought, becau­se, as the fol­lo­wing examination
of the legal frame­work and an ana­ly­sis of the current
juris­dic­tion in Ger­ma­ny will illus­tra­te, in this field
hin­deran­ces for “auto­ma­tic” or even gene­rous recognition
are still signi­fi­cant and even big­ger than in at least some
con­stel­la­ti­ons in which reco­gni­ti­on for the access to the
labour mar­ket is sought.
For that pur­po­se, the artic­le will first (I.) give an
over­view of the cur­rent legal frame­work regu­la­ting the
reco­gni­ti­on of hig­her edu­ca­ti­on qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons by naming
the most important legal sources and illus­t­ra­ting their
main con­tent. Second (II.), it will demons­tra­te some
dif­fi­cul­ties in the imple­men­ta­ti­on of the rules concerning
aca­de­mic reco­gni­ti­on from the per­spec­ti­ve of German
law. In a third and final step (III.), it will conclude
whe­ther it is pos­si­ble to enhan­ce aca­de­mic recognition
by cor­rect appli­ca­ti­on or bet­ter imple­men­ta­ti­on of
exis­ting rules and whe­ther addi­tio­nal mea­su­res are
nee­ded to reach the desi­red level of recognition.
I. The main sources of law – an overview
To iden­ti­fy the rele­vant legal sources, one has to
distin­gu­ish bet­ween the two alre­a­dy men­tio­ned different
aims of reco­gni­ti­on of hig­her edu­ca­ti­on qualifications:
bet­ween the reco­gni­ti­on for the pur­po­se of further
hig­her edu­ca­ti­on (which shall from now on be
abbre­via­ted as “aca­de­mic reco­gni­ti­on”) and the
reco­gni­ti­on for the access to employ­ment acti­vi­ty (which
shall from now on be cal­led “pro­fes­sio­nal recognition”).

  1. Pro­vi­si­ons con­cer­ning reco­gni­ti­on for the pur­po­se of
    fur­ther hig­her edu­ca­ti­on (Aca­de­mic Recognition)
    Let us first have a look at the pro­vi­si­ons concerning
    reco­gni­ti­on for the pur­po­se of fur­ther hig­her education:
    a) Euro­pean Uni­on law
    In EU pri­ma­ry law we can find two artic­les that explicitly
    deal with the reco­gni­ti­on of hig­her education
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons. One of them is Art. 53 TFEU. It is part of
    the chap­ter dedi­ca­ted to the free­dom of establishment
    but is accor­ding to Art. 62 TFEU also appli­ca­ble for the
    chap­ter con­cer­ning the free­dom of ser­vices. It enables
    Par­lia­ment and Coun­cil to issue direc­ti­ves for the mutual
    reco­gni­ti­on of qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons in order to make it easier
    for per­sons to take up and pur­sue acti­vi­ties as selfemployed
    per­sons. Art. 53 TFEU can thus only be used as
    a legal basis for pro­vi­si­ons that deal with reco­gni­ti­on for
    the pur­po­se of self-employ­ment. Acts on academic
    reco­gni­ti­on can­not be based on it. The same appli­es to
    the cor­re­spon­ding pro­vi­si­on within the chapter
    con­cer­ning the free move­ment of workers, Art. 46 TFEU.
    The other artic­le that expli­cit­ly deals with the issue of
    reco­gni­ti­on of qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons is Art. 165 TFEU:6 According
    to para­graph 2, the Uni­on shall aim at “encou­ra­ging
    mobi­li­ty of stu­dents and tea­chers, by encou­ra­ging, inter
    alia, the aca­de­mic reco­gni­ti­on of diplo­mas and periods
    of stu­dy”. For sys­te­ma­tic reasons, all acti­vi­ties based on
    Art. 165 para­graph 2 must respect the restriction
    for­mu­la­ted in para­graph 1, which sta­tes that the EU is
    only allo­wed to encou­ra­ge coope­ra­ti­on bet­ween its
    mem­ber sta­tes and to sup­port and sup­ple­ment their
    action while ful­ly respec­ting the respon­si­bi­li­ty of the
    Mem­ber Sta­tes for the con­tent of tea­ching and the
    orga­ni­sa­ti­on of edu­ca­ti­on sys­tems. The­r­e­fo­re and due to
    the limi­ta­ti­on expli­cit­ly for­mu­la­ted in its para­graph 4,
    Art. 165 TFEU can­not be the basis for any kind of directly
    har­mo­ni­zing acts7 and requi­res strict subsidiarity.8
    So far, the EU has also not used other, more general
    legal bases for direc­ti­ves on reco­gni­ti­on. Although
    pro­po­sed in legal scolarship9 up to now the EU has
    abs­tained from issuing direc­ti­ves on the basis of Art. 115
    TFEU.10 The use of the extra­or­di­na­ry competence
    pro­vi­ded in Art. 352 TFEU is excluded through its
    para­graph 4 in con­junc­tion with Art. 165 para­graph 4
    Obvious­ly the mem­ber sta­tes opted to achie­ve better
    coope­ra­ti­on through soft law instru­ments or promotional
    Pen­ßel · Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Diplo­mas and Qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons 1 0 3
    11 Coun­cil Direc­ti­ve 2003/109/EC of the 25th of Novem­ber 2003,
    OJ L 16, 23.1.2004, p. 44.
    12 Most­ly it is argued that Art. 21 II EuCh­FR does not app­ly to
    third coun­try natio­nals (see e.g. Höl­scheidt, in: Meyer/Hölscheidt
    (eds.), Char­ta der Grund­rech­te der Euro­päi­schen Uni­on, 5th
    ed., 2019, Art. 21, com­ment 60; Jarass, in: Jarass (ed.), Charta
    der Grund­rech­te der EU, 3rd ed., 2016, com­ment 42; Mar­tin, in:
    Kellerbauer/Klamert/Tomkin (eds.), The EU Trea­ties and the
    Char­ter of Fun­da­men­tal Rights, 2019, Art. 21 ChFR com­ment 10,
    Art. 18 TFEU com­ment 3; von der Decken, in: Hesselhaus/Nowak
    (eds.), Hand­buch der Euro­päi­schen Grund­rech­te, 2nd. ed., 2020,
    § 49 com­ment 41), as (accor­ding to Art. 52 II EUCh­FR) it has to
    be inter­pre­ted in the same sen­se as Art. 18 TFEU, which shall also
    only be appli­ca­ble to EU citi­zens (see e.g. CJEU Case C‑291/09 –
    Guar­nie­ri; Mar­tin, in: Kellerbauer/Klamert/Tomkin (eds.), The
    EU Trea­ties and the Char­ter of Fun­da­men­tal Rights, 2019, Art.
    18 com­ment 3; von der Decken, in: Hesselhaus/Nowak (eds.),
    Hand­buch der Euro­päi­schen Grund­rech­te, 2nd ed. 2020,
    § 49 Rn. 19). Others argue that the cha­rac­ter of Art. 21 II EUCh-
    FR as a fun­da­men­tal right con­tra­ve­nes an abso­lu­te limi­ta­ti­on on
    EU citi­zens, see Kugel­mann, in: Merten/Papier (eds.), Handbuch
    der Grund­rech­te in Deutsch­land und Euro­pa, Vol. VI/1, 2010, §
    160 com­ment 52.
    13 See e.g. CJEU Case C‑147/03 – Com­mis­si­on vs. Aus­tria, EuZW
    2005, 465, para. 41; Epi­ney, in: Calliess/Ruffert (eds.), EUV/
    AEUV, 5th ed., 2016, Art. 18 com­ment 12; Mar­tin, in: Kellerbauer/
    Klamert/Tomkin (eds.), The EU Trea­ties and the Char­ter of
    Fun­da­men­tal Rights, 2019, Art. 18 TFEU com­ment 17; von der
    Decken, in: Hesselhaus/Nowak (eds.), Hand­buch der Europäischen
    Grund­rech­te, 2nd ed., 2020, § 49 com­ment 26.
    14 Sett­led case law, see e.g. CJEU Case C‑85/96 – Mar­ti­nez Sala,
    para. 63; Case C‑274/96 – Bickel und Franz, EU:C:1998:563;
    Epi­ney, in: Calliess/Ruffert (eds.), EUV/AEUV, 5th ed., 2016,
    Art. 18 Rn. 2; Mar­tin, in: Kellerbauer/Klamert/Tomkin (eds.),
    The EU Trea­ties and the Char­ter of Fun­da­men­tal Rights, 2019,
    Art. 18 TFEU com­ment 23; von der Decken, in: Hesselhaus/Nowak
    (eds.), Hand­buch der Euro­päi­schen Grund­rech­te, 2nd ed.
    2020, § 49 com­ment 16.
    15 The CJEU sta­ted various times (see e.g. Case C‑293/83 – Gravier,
    EU:C:1985:69; Case C‑147/03 – Com­mis­si­on vs. Aus­tria) that
    the con­di­ti­ons deter­mi­ning the access to pro­fes­sio­nal education,
    inclu­ding pro­fes­sio­nal edu­ca­ti­on at hig­her edu­ca­ti­on institutions,
    fall into the ambit of the trea­ty. In his decis­i­on from the 1. of
    July 2004 – C‑65/03 para. 25 – the CJEU expli­cit­ly mentioned
    Art. 149 II dash 2 (the pro­vi­si­on pre­ce­ding Art. 165 II, which
    shared its wor­ding) to argue that the scope of the Trea­ty is given.
    Fur­ther­mo­re accor­ding to seve­ral decis­i­ons of the CJEU (see e.g.
    Case C‑274–96 – Bickel und Franz, EU:C:1998:563, para. 15; Case
    C‑333/13, EU:C:2014:2358 = NVwZ 2015, 145, para. 58 – Dano)
    the rele­van­ce of the right of free move­ment con­fer­red in Art. 21
    TFEU is suf­fi­ci­ent to con­sti­tu­te a situa­ti­on gover­ned by EU law
    (see also Mar­tin, in: Kellerbauer/Klamert/Tomkin (eds.), The EU
    Trea­ties and the Char­ter of Fun­da­men­tal Rights, 2019, Art. 18
    TFEU com­ment 13).
    pro­grams (like the Eras­mus+ Pro­gram) rather than
    through com­pul­si­ve rules. The­r­e­fo­re we can conclude
    that EU legis­la­ti­on curr­ent­ly does not pro­vi­de any
    cri­te­ria or pro­ce­du­ral obli­ga­ti­ons for academic
    Howe­ver, Euro­pean Uni­on Law in cer­tain respect
    pro­vi­des – as is gene­ral­ly known – the right to equal
    aa) Third coun­try nationals
    At first we will have a look at the rights of third country
    natio­nals becau­se a pro­vi­si­on dedi­ca­ted to them explicitly
    men­ti­ons reco­gni­ti­on of qualifications:
    Accor­ding to Art. 11 Direc­ti­ve 2003/109/EC (the so
    cal­led “Long-term-Resi­dence Directive”)11 third country
    natio­nals with the right to long-term resi­dence in an EU
    Mem­ber Sta­te can requi­re equal tre­at­ment with nationals
    of their host sta­te in cer­tain respects, among which the
    reco­gni­ti­on of qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons is expli­cit­ly men­tio­ned. Yet,
    one has to keep in mind that the “Long-term-Resi­dence
    Direc­ti­ve”, accor­ding to its Artic­le 3 II a) does not apply
    to third coun­try natio­nals that resi­de in their host state
    in order to pur­sue stu­dies. Con­se­quent­ly in many cases,
    in which aca­de­mic reco­gni­ti­on is sought, Art. 11 of
    Direc­ti­ve 2003/109/EL will not be per­ti­nent (but it is – at
    least accor­ding to its wor­ding – appli­ca­ble in cases, in
    which a third coun­try natio­nal resi­des in a mem­ber state
    for the pur­po­se of employ­ment, but aims to pursue
    stu­dies additionally).
    It can be dis­cus­sed whe­ther third coun­try nationals
    can cla­im not to be dis­cri­mi­na­ted by reason of nationality
    due to Art. 21 II of the Char­ter on fun­da­men­tal rights of
    the Euro­pean Uni­on (the­re­af­ter: EUChFR).12 Even if this
    would be the case, howe­ver, this pro­vi­si­on is only binding
    on the insti­tu­ti­ons and bodies of the Uni­on as well as on
    the Mem­ber Sta­tes when imple­men­ting EU law (Art. 51 I
    1 EUCh­FR). Becau­se – as men­tio­ned abo­ve – the­re is
    curr­ent­ly no EU law deal­ing with aca­de­mic recognition
    for third coun­try natio­nals (bes­i­de Art. 11 Long-term-
    Resi­dence Direc­ti­ve), this pro­vi­si­on is typi­cal­ly not
    bb) EU citi­zens (and fami­ly members)
    Alt­hough Art. 21 II EUCh­FR undoub­ted­ly pro­tects EU
    citi­zens its importance for them might be in effect not
    big­ger than for third coun­try natio­nals: as decis­i­ons on
    aca­de­mic reco­gni­ti­on are not deter­mi­ned by EU law at
    the moment, one can argue that the mem­ber states
    ther­eby do not imple­ment EU law, so Art. 21 II EUChFR
    is not applicable.
    Nevert­hel­ess EU citi­zens can demand not to be
    dis­cri­mi­na­ted direct­ly or indirectly13 by reason of
    natio­na­li­ty due to Art. 18 I TFEU. Art. 18 I TFEU is
    direct­ly applicable14 as long as the situa­ti­on falls within
    the scope of the trea­ty. As – what was men­tio­ned before
    – Art. 165 TFEU allows the EU to encou­ra­ge academic
    reco­gni­ti­on and Art. 21 TFEU prin­ci­pal­ly opens way to
    free move­ment of EU citi­zens within the Uni­on the
    scope of appli­ca­ti­on of the trea­ty is given whenever
    reco­gni­ti­on across bor­ders is sought.15
    1 0 4 O R D N U N G D E R WI S S E N S C H A F T 2 ( 2 0 2 0 ) , 1 0 1 – 1 1 4
    16 Direc­ti­ve 2004/38/EC of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment and of the
    Coun­cil of the 29th of April 2004, OJ L 158, 30.4.2004, p. 77.
    17 Art. 24 I Direc­ti­ve 2004/38/EC meets all con­di­ti­ons the CJEU
    for­mu­la­ted for ack­now­led­ging a direc­ti­ve to be direct­ly effective
    (to the­se con­di­ti­ons see e.g. Case C‑282/10 Dominguez,
    EU:C:2012:33 para. 33 and the case law cited): a direc­ti­ve (which
    has not or not cor­rect­ly been trans­po­sed into natio­nal law) is
    direct­ly effec­ti­ve when it is “uncon­di­tio­nal” and “suf­fi­ci­ent­ly
    pre­cise” (for more details see e.g. Klammert/Loewenthal, in: Kellerbauer/
    Klamert/Tomkin (eds.), The EU Trea­ties and the Charter
    of Fun­da­men­tal Rights, 2019, Art. 288 com­ment 30–40).
    18 CJEU Case C‑333/13 EU:C:2014:2358 = NVwZ 2015, 145 –
    Dano, para. 67–82; Case C‑67/14 EU:C:2015:597 = NVwZ 2015,
    1517; NJW 2016, 555 – Ali­ma­no­vic, para. 48–63.
    19 In Case C‑67/14 (= NVwZ 2015, 1517; NJW 2016, 555) – Alimanovic
    the CJEU poin­ted out, that a clai­mant resi­ding in a foreign
    mem­ber sta­te in com­pli­ance with the pro­vi­si­ons of the CRD can
    nevert­hel­ess be dis­cri­mi­na­ted on the basis of Art. 24 II CRD. The
    CJEU did not dis­cuss whe­ther Art. 18 TFEU could hin­der such
    dis­cri­mi­na­ti­on: Obvious­ly accor­ding to the CJEU Art. 18 TFEU is
    not oppo­sed to secon­da­ry law like Art. 24 II CRD which explicitly
    per­mits dis­cri­mi­na­ti­on of EU citi­zens within the scope of application
    of the trea­ty, becau­se Art. 21 I TFEU allows to rest­rict the
    right of free move­ment through secon­da­ry law.
    20 Case C‑333/13 (= NVwZ 2015, 145) – Dano; Case C‑67/14 (=
    NVwZ 2015, 1517; NJW 2016, 555) – Ali­ma­no­vic, para. 48–63.
    See also Epi­ney, in: Calliess/Ruffert (eds.), EUV/AEUV, 5th ed.,
    2016, Art. 18 Rn. 19.
    21 See CJEU Case C‑274/96 – Bickel und Franz; Case C‑322/13 –
    Grau­el Rüf­fer: in the­se decis­i­ons the CJEU affirm­ed the violation
    of Art. 18 TFEU wit­hout refe­rence to Art. 24 CRD; the petitioners
    in this cases did not resi­de in a for­eign mem­ber state.
    22 The con­ven­ti­ons and decla­ra­ti­ons with rele­van­ce for Germany
    are coll­ec­ted and pre­sen­ted online by the „Con­fe­rence of the
    Minis­ters for Cul­tu­ral Affairs“, see
    anerkennung.html (15.2.2020).
    23 Signed in Lis­bon on the 11th of April 1997, Coun­cil of Europe –
    Euro­pean Trea­ty Series No. 165.
    24 Bergan/Rauhvergers, The Coun­cil of Europe/UNESCO (Lis­bon)
    Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on – what it is and how to use it, in: Council
    of Euro­pe (ed.), Stan­dards for reco­gni­ti­on: the Lisbon
    Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on and its sub­si­dia­ry texts, 2005, p. 8;
    Hoch­schul­rek­to­ren­kon­fe­renz (ed.), Aner­ken­nung von im Ausland
    erwor­be­nen Stu­di­en- und Prü­fungs­leis­tun­gen – Ein Leitfaden
    für Hoch­schu­len, 2013,
    media/nexus_Leitfaden_Anerkennung_Lang_01.pdf (15.2.2020),
    p. 9.
    A fur­ther and pro­ba­b­ly even more promising
    pro­vi­si­on for EU citi­zens and – moreo­ver – their third
    sta­te natio­nal fami­ly mem­bers is Art. 24 of the Directive
    2004/38/EC16 (the so cal­led „Citizen’s Rights Directive“;
    the­re­af­ter: CRD): It also pro­vi­des the right of equal
    tre­at­ment and is appli­ca­ble to all EU citi­zens resi­ding in
    a for­eign Mem­ber Sta­te, as long as their residence
    con­forms to the regu­la­ti­ons of the direc­ti­ve. If not
    trans­po­sed cor­rect­ly into natio­nal law, Art. 24 I CRD has
    the poten­ti­al to be direct­ly effective.17 The relation
    bet­ween Art. 18 TFEU and Art. 24 I Direc­ti­ve 2004/38/
    EC is not easy to defi­ne: Accor­ding to the CJEU Art. 24
    CRD can be unders­tood as (lawful) spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­on of Art.
    18 TFEU.18 It is the­r­e­fo­re the cru­cial pro­vi­si­on in cases in
    which EU citi­zens resi­de in a for­eign mem­ber sta­te in
    accordance with the CRD.19 Vice ver­sa, the CJEU stated
    that a per­son resi­ding in a for­eign mem­ber sta­te against
    the pro­vi­si­ons of the CRD can neither cla­im equal
    tre­at­ment from Art. 24 CDR nor from Art. 18 TFEU
    (becau­se he or she does not act within the “scope of the
    trea­ty”, which allows to limit free move­ment of EU
    citi­zens wit­hout eco­no­mic pur­po­se through secondary
    law, s. Art. 21 I TFEU).20 For peti­tio­ners that do not
    resi­de in a for­eign mem­ber sta­te — so that Art. 24 CRD is
    not appli­ca­ble — Art. 18 TFEU is decisive.21
    b) Inter­na­tio­nal law
    We will go on with a look at the legal sources that can be
    found in inter­na­tio­nal law.
    Alt­hough the­re is a big varie­ty of international
    agree­ments and decla­ra­ti­ons deal­ing with the
    inter­na­tio­nal reco­gni­ti­on of hig­her education
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons from the per­spec­ti­ve of almost all EU
    mem­ber states22 the by far most important agree­ment is
    the Con­ven­ti­on on the Reco­gni­ti­on of Qualifications
    con­cer­ning Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on in the Euro­pean Region,23
    the so cal­led Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on. It was
    con­cluded in 1997 within the frame­work of the Council
    of Euro­pe and the Euro­pean Sec­tion of the UNESCO.
    After the Fall of the Iron Curtain, facing an increase of
    inter­na­tio­nal mobi­li­ty, an increase of importance of
    ter­tia­ry edu­ca­ti­on and also an increase of diversity
    the­r­ein, its aut­hors aimed at repla­cing older recognition
    agree­ments which (at least the most important among
    them) dated back to the late 1950th in order to facilitate
    stu­dent mobi­li­ty to be able to meet the requi­re­ments of
    rising “globalisation”.24 Up to now the Lis­bon Recognition
    Con­ven­ti­on has been rati­fied by 53 sta­tes and the Holy
    See, among others all Mem­ber Sta­tes of the European
    Uni­on (bes­i­des Greece), fur­ther Mem­ber Sta­tes of the
    Coun­cil of Euro­pe like Switz­er­land, Nor­way or The
    Pen­ßel · Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Diplo­mas and Qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons 1 0 5
    25 Ger­ma­ny signed the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on on the 11th
    of April 1997. It was trans­for­med into natio­nal law by the Statue
    con­cer­ning the Con­ven­ti­on on the reco­gni­ti­on of qualifications
    con­cer­ning hig­her edu­ca­ti­on in the Euro­pean regi­on from the
    16th of May 2007. This sta­tu­te and the wor­ding of the Lisbon
    Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on in Eng­lish, French and Ger­man is
    published in: BGBl. 2007, part II no. 15, pp. 712–732. An updated
    list of signa­tures and rati­fi­ca­ti­ons is pre­sen­ted on the web­site of
    the Coun­cil of Euro­pe:
    full-lis­t/-/con­ven­ti­ons­/trea­ty/165 (15.2.2020).
    26 „Abkom­men zwi­schen der Regie­rung der Bundesrepublik
    Deutsch­land und der Regie­rung der Fran­zö­si­schen Repu­blik über
    die Aner­ken­nung von Abschlüs­sen, Gra­den und Stu­di­en­zei­ten im
    Hoch­schul­be­reich“ of the 31th of March 2015, BGBl. 2016,
    part II no. 3, pp. 124–126 (Agree­ment bet­ween Ger­ma­ny and
    France con­cer­ning the reco­gni­ti­on of degrees, gra­des and periods
    of stu­dy in the field of hig­her education).
    27 „Abkom­men zwi­schen der Regie­rung der Bundesrepublik
    Deutsch­land und der Regie­rung des König­reichs Spa­ni­en über
    die Aner­ken­nung von Gleich­wer­tig­kei­ten im Hochschulbereich“
    of the 14th of Novem­ber 1994, BGBl. 1996, part. 2 no. 12, pp.
    332–333 (Agree­ment bet­ween Ger­ma­ny and Spain con­cer­ning the
    reco­gni­ti­on of equi­va­len­ces in the field of hig­her education).
    28 Pur­su­ant to Art. II.3 Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on tho­se provisions
    pre­ce­de the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Convention.
    29 Among the trea­ties with per­sis­tent rele­van­ce for Ger­ma­ny see
    e.g. the Euro­pean Con­ven­ti­on on the Equi­va­lence of Periods
    of Uni­vers­ti­ty Stu­dy, signed in Paris on the 15th of December
    1956 (Coun­cil of Euro­pe – Euro­pean Trea­ty Series Nr. 21), the
    Euro­pean Con­ven­ti­on on the Gene­ral Equi­va­lence of Peri­ods of
    Stu­dy, signed in Rome on the 6th of Novem­ber 1990 (Coun­cil of
    Euro­pe – Euro­pean Trea­ty Series Nr. 138) (which both preceded
    the regu­la­ti­ons of Art. V Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on) and
    the Euro­pean Con­ven­ti­on on the Aca­de­mic Reco­gni­ti­on of University
    Qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons, signed in Paris on the 14th of December
    1959 (Coun­cil of Euro­pe – Euro­pean Trea­ty Series Nr. 32) (which
    pre­ce­ded the regu­la­ti­ons of Art. VI Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Convention).
    30 Actors in Ger­man Admi­nis­tra­ti­on deal­ing with aca­de­mic recognition
    share this inter­pre­ta­ti­on (see e.g. Hochschulrektorenkonferenz
    (ed.), Aner­ken­nung (fn. 24), p. 14 and in par­ti­cu­lar chapter
    III: „Von der Gleich­wer­tig­keit zum wesent­li­chen Unterschied“;
    see fur­ther­mo­re the Let­ter of the Head of the German
    Accre­di­ta­ti­on Coun­cil of the 27th of Sep­tem­ber 2011 concerning
    the imple­men­ta­ti­on of the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on, Az.
    AR/Sonstige/AR_Rundschreiben_Lissabon1.pdf (15.2.2020):
    „Dabei (bei der Ent­schei­dung über die Aner­ken­nung, R.P.) liegt
    der Fokus der Bewer­tung der Hoch­schu­le nicht mehr auf der
    „Gleich­wer­tig­keit“ oder „Gleich­ar­tig­keit“ der anzuerkennenden
    Qua­li­fi­ka­ti­on, son­dern auf der Wesent­lich­keit von Unterschieden.
    Da bei der Fest­stel­lung unwe­sent­li­cher Unter­schie­de die extern
    erbrach­ten Hoch­schul­qua­li­fi­ka­tio­nen aner­kannt werden (…)
    bringt dies einen grö­ße­ren Spiel­raum als bis­her“). Alt­hough the
    terms „equi­va­lence“ and „lack of sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­rence“ could
    lin­gu­i­sti­cal­ly also be syn­onyms, the motifs which led to the
    con­clu­si­on of the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on indi­ca­te that
    they should stand for a dif­fe­rent sca­le. It is not so easy to describe
    that dif­fe­rence in a way that makes it ope­ra­ble for legal descisions.
    Howe­ver, the new ter­mi­no­lo­gy at least cla­ri­fies that reco­gni­ti­on is
    not hin­de­red through big­ger dif­fe­ren­ces as long as those
    dif­fe­ren­ces are not „sub­stan­ti­al ones“.
    Rus­si­an Fede­ra­ti­on, and even sta­tes out­side Euro­pe such
    as Cana­da, Aus­tra­lia or New Zealand.25
    Alt­hough seve­ral par­ties of the Lis­bon Recognition
    Con­ven­ti­on have also signed more favoura­ble bilateral
    reco­gni­ti­on agree­ments with other sta­tes (e.g. Germany
    with France26 or Spain27)28 and the­re also exist numerous
    reco­gni­ti­on agree­ments con­cluded with sta­tes that are
    not par­ties of the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on, most
    of the cases in prac­ti­ce are cover­ed by the Lisbon
    Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on: With 54 par­ties all over and
    out­side Euro­pe this agree­ment has defi­ni­te­ly the widest
    scope. The­r­e­fo­re this artic­le will con­cen­tra­te on the
    pro­vi­si­ons and on the imple­men­ta­ti­on of this trea­ty and
    lea­ve other trea­ties aside.
    The Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on deals with the
    reco­gni­ti­on of “qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons giving access to higher
    edu­ca­ti­on” (which shall not be the topic of this article),
    of “peri­ods of stu­dies”, which means qualifications
    obtai­ned within a cour­se of stu­dy, and “qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons”,
    which the con­ven­ti­on defi­nes as cer­ti­fi­ca­te attest­ing the
    suc­cessful com­ple­ti­on of a cour­se of stu­dy. This article
    will con­cern both: qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons obtai­ned within a
    cour­se of stu­dy and qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons obtai­ned through
    com­ple­ti­on of a cour­se of stu­dy, becau­se both of them
    are rele­vant for stu­dent mobi­li­ty, and at least in practice
    the pro­blems with reco­gni­ti­on of “peri­ods of stu­dy” are
    even big­ger than tho­se cau­sed by the reco­gni­ti­on of final
    The key pro­vi­si­on in the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Convention
    for the reco­gni­ti­on of qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons is Art. VI. 1. It sta­tes that
    “to the ext­ent that a reco­gni­ti­on decis­i­on is based on the
    know­ledge and skills cer­ti­fied by the hig­her education
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on, each Par­ty shall reco­gni­ze the higher
    edu­ca­ti­on qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons con­fer­red in ano­ther Par­ty, unless a
    sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­rence can be shown bet­ween the qualification
    for which reco­gni­ti­on is sought and the corresponding
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on in the Par­ty in which reco­gni­ti­on is sought.”
    Art. V.1. appli­es the same sca­le to the reco­gni­ti­on of “peri­ods
    of stu­dy”: it has to take place “unless sub­stan­ti­al differences
    can be shown bet­ween the peri­ods of stu­dy com­ple­ted in
    ano­ther par­ty and the part of the hig­her edu­ca­ti­on program
    which they would replace”. In com­pa­ri­son with former
    reco­gni­ti­on agree­ments the Artic­les V.1 and VI.1 facilitate
    posi­ti­ve reco­gni­ti­on decis­i­ons in two dimen­si­ons: While
    for­mer agree­ments deman­ded reco­gni­ti­on only in cases of
    “equi­va­lence” of qualifications29 Art. V.1 and Art. VI.1
    Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on obvious­ly aimed to
    estab­lish a lower stan­dard of con­for­mi­ty (which it calls:
    “lack of sub­stan­ti­al differences”)30 and addres­ses thereby
    not the exami­na­ti­on its­elf, but the lear­ning outcome
    (“know­ledge and skills”) cer­ti­fied through the formal
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on. And while accor­ding to for­mer agreements
    1 0 6 O R D N U N G D E R WI S S E N S C H A F T 2 ( 2 0 2 0 ) , 1 0 1 – 1 1 4
    31 See e.g. OVG Müns­ter, Urt. v. 20.6.2017, Az. 14 A 1776/16,
    NWVBl. 2017, 534.
    32 See e.g. OVG Ber­lin-Bran­den­burg, Beschl. v. 26.9.2012, Az. 10 M
    33.11 – juris.
    33 For some examp­les see fn. 29.
    34 It sta­tes: „The Par­ties to this Con­ven­ti­on … atta­ching gre­at importance
    to the prin­ci­ple of insti­tu­tio­nal auto­no­my, and conscious
    of the need to uphold and pro­tect this prin­ci­ple …have agreed as
    35 Direc­ti­ve 2005/36/EC of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment and of the
    Coun­cil of 7 Sep­tem­ber 2005 on the reco­gni­ti­on of professional
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons, OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, pp. 22–142. For further
    infor­ma­ti­on and reflec­tion about this direc­ti­ve see e.g. Ludwig,
    Der euro­pa­recht­li­che Ein­fluss auf die Ent­wick­lung des nationalen
    Heil­be­ru­fe­rechts, 2018, pp. 139 seq.; Wasch­kau, EU-Dienstleistungsrichtlinie
    und Berufs­an­er­ken­nungs­richt­li­nie: Ana­ly­se der
    Aus­wir­kun­gen auf das Recht der frei­en Beru­fe in Deutschland
    unter beson­de­rer Berück­sich­ti­gung der Rechts­an­wäl­te, Steuerberater
    und Wirt­schafts­prü­fer, 2008, pp. 72–104; Frenz, Die Berufsanerkennungsrichtlinie
    und ver­blie­be­ne sek­to­ra­le Richtlinien,
    Gew­Arch 2011, pp. 377–384; Tom­kin, in: Kellerbauer/Klamert/
    Tom­kin (eds.), The EU Trea­ties and the Char­ter of Fundamental
    Rights, 2019, Art. 53 com­ment 9–16 (short sum­ma­ry of its content).
    the onus of pre­sen­ta­ti­on and the bur­den of pro­of (for
    equi­va­lence) lay with the appli­cant, the Lis­bon Recognition
    Con­ven­ti­on obli­ges the par­ties to reco­gni­ze a qualification
    unless the reco­gni­zing aut­ho­ri­ty can demons­tra­te and prove
    a “sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­rence”. Bey­ond that, the Con­ven­ti­on tries
    to encou­ra­ge reco­gni­ti­on through various pro­ce­du­ral rules.
    For exam­p­le, it obli­ges the par­ties to pro­vi­de that procedure
    and cri­te­ria for decis­i­ons on reco­gni­ti­on are “trans­pa­rent,
    coher­ent and relia­ble” (Art. III.2), that decis­i­ons are made
    within a reasonable time limit spe­ci­fied before­hand (Art.
    III.5) and that in case of a nega­ti­ve decis­i­on, the applicant
    has the right to make an appeal. Art. VI.3 defi­nes the legal
    effect of reco­gni­ti­on of “qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons” in the sen­se of the
    Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on: “Reco­gni­ti­on in a Par­ty of
    a hig­her edu­ca­ti­on qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on issued in ano­ther Party
    shall have one or both of the fol­lo­wing con­se­quen­ces: a)
    access to fur­ther hig­her edu­ca­ti­on (…) on the same
    con­di­ti­ons as tho­se appli­ca­ble to hol­ders of qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons of
    the Par­ty in which reco­gni­ti­on is sought, (or) b) the use of
    an aca­de­mic title, sub­ject to the laws and regu­la­ti­ons of the
    Par­ty (…) in which reco­gni­ti­on is sought. In addition,
    reco­gni­ti­on may faci­li­ta­te access to the labour market
    sub­ject to laws and regu­la­ti­ons of the Par­ty (…) in which
    reco­gni­ti­on is sought.” From that, we can see that the Lisbon
    Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on is dedi­ca­ted to academic
    reco­gni­ti­on and does not impo­se obli­ga­ti­ons on its parties
    con­cer­ning pro­fes­sio­nal recognition.
    The Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on being an instrument
    of inter­na­tio­nal law, we have to ans­wer the question
    what legal effects its pro­vi­si­ons have after ful­fil­ling the
    con­sti­tu­tio­nal con­di­ti­ons of the rati­fy­ing sta­tes to set
    them into force within their natio­nal law (if the­re are
    such). The ques­ti­on is not easy to ans­wer. Obvious­ly different
    views on that can be found within, for example,
    the Ger­man juris­dic­tion: while some Ger­man courts decided
    cases within the scope of the Lis­bon Recognition
    Con­ven­ti­on wit­hout men­tio­ning it31 in other decisions
    pro­vi­si­ons of the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on are explicitly
    men­tio­ned and trea­ted as direct­ly applicable
    A clo­ser look at the key pro­vi­si­ons of the Lisbon
    Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on reve­als that they are not
    appli­ca­ble wit­hout being spe­ci­fied by the parties.
    Alt­hough the con­di­ti­ons for reco­gni­ti­on for­mu­la­ted in
    Art. VI.1 could be per­cei­ved to be pre­cise enough for
    direct appli­ca­ti­on, Art. VI.3 of the Con­ven­ti­on opens a
    mar­gin to defi­ne their legal effects. This mar­gin has to be
    fil­led by natio­nal law. Moreo­ver the Con­ven­ti­on (like all
    of its pre­ce­ding conventions)33 shows respect for the
    auto­no­my of hig­her edu­ca­ti­on insti­tu­ti­ons and therefore
    impo­ses obli­ga­ti­ons expli­cit­ly not on them but only on
    the signa­to­ry sta­tes with the pro­vi­so to imple­ment them
    wit­hout vio­la­ting the auto­no­my or free­doms of higher
    edu­ca­ti­on insti­tu­ti­ons. The­r­e­fo­re it can be refer­red to
    Con­side­ra­ti­on 634 and even more to Art. II.1 p. 1 Lisbon
    Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on: The lat­ter shows that when the
    decis­i­on in reco­gni­ti­on mat­ters lies with individual
    hig­her edu­ca­ti­on insti­tu­ti­ons, which for academic
    reco­gni­ti­on is the case in almost all Euro­pean countries,
    the Par­ty is only obli­ged to trans­mit the text of the
    Con­ven­ti­on and to take all pos­si­ble steps to encourage
    the favoura­ble con­side­ra­ti­on and appli­ca­ti­on of its
    pro­vi­si­ons. Con­se­quent­ly the pro­vi­si­ons of the Lisbon
    Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on con­cer­ning academic
    reco­gni­ti­on are not direct­ly appli­ca­ble and need
    imple­men­ta­ti­on through natio­nal law.
    The­r­e­fo­re we can con­clude that in the field of academic
    reco­gni­ti­on direct­ly bin­ding pro­vi­si­ons can only be found
    in natio­nal law.
  2. Pro­vi­si­ons con­cer­ning reco­gni­ti­on for the pur­po­se of
    (self-)employment (Pro­fes­sio­nal Recognition)
    We will now turn our atten­ti­on to the legal sources that
    are rele­vant for pro­fes­sio­nal recognition:
    a) Euro­pean Uni­on Law
    aa) EU citizens
    On the basis of Artic­les 46, 53 and 62 TFEU, Parliament
    and Coun­cil have issued the Direc­ti­ve 2005/36/EC35 on
    the reco­gni­ti­on of pro­fes­sio­nal qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons. This
    direc­ti­ve appli­es to EU citi­zens who seek reco­gni­ti­on for
    Pen­ßel · Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Diplo­mas and Qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons 1 0 7
    36 For fur­ther details (which also address the pro­fes­si­on of a
    mid­wi­fe in Art. 40–43) see Art. 21–49.
    37 For spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­on of the­se – here sim­pli­fied – gui­de­lines see
    Art. 1–14 Direc­ti­ve 2005/36/EC. Ger­man fede­ral law transposes
    them through the Sta­tu­te con­cer­ning the assess­ment of equivalence
    of pro­fes­sio­nal qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons (Gesetz über die Feststellung
    der Gleich­wer­tig­keit von Berufs­qua­li­fi­ka­tio­nen) of the 6th of
    Decem­ber 2011 (espe­ci­al­ly its §§ 9–13).
    38 To the dis­pu­te whe­ther, in addi­ti­on, Art. 21 II EUCh­FR is pertinent
    (within its scope descri­bed in Art. 51 EU-ChFR) , see fn. 12.
    39 See abo­ve I. 1. b).
    40 Con­cer­ning the num­ber of stu­dents enrol­led it takes the third
    place after Rus­sia and Tur­key, see Figu­re 1.1 Bolo­gna Process
    Imple­men­ta­ti­on Report (fn. 2), p. 23.
    41 Figu­re 4.14, Bolo­gna Pro­cess Imple­men­ta­ti­on Report (fn. 2),
    p. 144.
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons which are neces­sa­ry to take up or pur­sue a
    regu­la­ted pro­fes­si­on in ano­ther Mem­ber State.
    For five aca­de­mic and one nona­ca­de­mic professions
    (doc­tors, nur­ses respon­si­ble for gene­ral care, dental
    prac­ti­tio­ners, vete­ri­na­ry sur­ge­ons, pharmacists,
    archi­tects) the direc­ti­ve for­mu­la­tes mini­mum standards
    for pro­fes­sio­nal trai­ning and com­bi­nes that with the
    intro­duc­tion of the prin­ci­ple of auto­ma­tic recognition.
    That means that reco­gni­ti­on has to take place without
    any (fur­ther) check of equi­va­lence or simi­la­ri­ty, if the
    clai­mants qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on actual­ly ful­fills the requirements
    laid down in the direc­ti­ve (see Art. 21).36
    For all other regu­la­ted aca­de­mic and nonacademic
    pro­fes­si­ons each Mem­ber Sta­te is obli­ged to offer a
    pro­ce­du­re that leads to reco­gni­ti­on under the same
    con­di­ti­ons that app­ly to its natio­nals (Art. 13). That
    means that a qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on has to be reco­gni­zed, when it
    is equi­va­lent to the neces­sa­ry qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on issued in the
    host sta­te. If the­re are sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­ren­ces, the host
    sta­te must open way to com­pen­sa­te them through either
    com­ple­ting an adap­ti­on peri­od (of up to three years) or
    pas­sing an apti­tu­de test.37
    This direc­ti­ve is accom­pa­nied by the general
    pro­vi­si­ons con­fer­ring the right to equal tre­at­ment, which
    were alre­a­dy men­tio­ned abo­ve: Art. 24 CRD in cases of
    legal resi­dence in ano­ther Mem­ber Sta­te; Art. 18 TFEU
    and Art. 21 II EUCh­FR, which both will be usually
    appli­ca­ble as pro­fes­sio­nal reco­gni­ti­on is, as we have seen,
    wide­ly regu­la­ted through EU law.
    bb) Third coun­try nationals
    Third coun­try natio­nals also enjoy the right to equal
    tre­at­ment in cer­tain cir­cum­s­tances defi­ned in Directive
    2003/109/EC, the alre­a­dy men­tio­ned ”Long-term-
    Resi­dence Direc­ti­ve”. Accor­ding to its Art. 11, persons
    with the right to long-term resi­dence have to be treated
    like natio­nals inter alia in case of reco­gni­ti­on of
    pro­fes­sio­nal qualifications.38
    b) Inter­na­tio­nal law
    Approa­ching the field of inter­na­tio­nal law we have
    alre­a­dy seen that pro­fes­sio­nal reco­gni­ti­on is not
    deter­mi­ned through the pro­vi­si­ons of the Lisbon
    Reco­gni­ti­on Convention.39 The­r­e­fo­re, inter­na­tio­nal law
    with a com­pa­ra­ble scope does not exist.
    c) Natio­nal law
    As a result we can note that in the field of professional
    reco­gni­ti­on direct­ly bin­ding pro­vi­si­ons are also basically
    found in natio­nal law. But unli­ke natio­nal law concerning
    aca­de­mic reco­gni­ti­on it is not only deter­mi­ned by
    inter­na­tio­nal law, which can be vio­la­ted by the parties
    wit­hout pro­vo­king a cer­tain effect within natio­nal law. In
    the field of regu­la­ted pro­fes­si­ons, natio­nal law is widely
    deter­mi­ned through EU law (espe­ci­al­ly Directive
    2005/36/EC) who­se pro­vi­si­ons influence the
    inter­pre­ta­ti­on of natio­nal law and can have direct effect
    if they are not trans­po­sed correctly.
    II. Sel­ec­ti­ve dif­fi­cul­ties in the imple­men­ta­ti­on of the
    rules con­cer­ning aca­de­mic reco­gni­ti­on from the
    per­spec­ti­ve of Ger­man law
    Con­side­ring the given legal frame­work, this paragraph
    will illus­tra­te some reasons why curr­ent­ly recognition
    prac­ti­ce still “falls short of expec­ta­ti­ons”, as the 2018
    Bolo­gna Report sta­tes. It will con­cen­tra­te on the field of
    aca­de­mic reco­gni­ti­on, as the­r­ein – in default of any
    har­mo­niza­ti­on through EU law – the obs­ta­cles to
    “auto­ma­tic” or even “broad” reco­gni­ti­on are big­ger. To
    iden­ti­fy at least some of them we will take a look at the
    imple­men­ta­ti­on of the rules pre­sen­ted in chap­ter I. 1. in
    Ger­ma­ny, which is due to its size, popu­la­ti­on and
    cor­re­spon­ding num­ber of hig­her edu­ca­ti­on institutions
    a rele­vant fac­tor within the EHEA.40 The reasons for
    short­co­mings in imple­men­ta­ti­on in other sta­tes might be
    dif­fe­rent, or else­whe­re may­be even similar.
    Accor­ding to an ana­ly­sis docu­men­ted in the 2018
    Bolo­gna Report Ger­ma­ny is among 18 (from in total 47)
    EHEA count­ries which spe­ci­fied all 5 key prin­ci­ples of
    the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on in natio­nal law.41 As
    tho­se key pri­nic­p­les the ana­ly­sis iden­ti­fies (cor­rect­ly)
    1) appli­cants have right to fair assessment,
    1 0 8 O R D N U N G D E R WI S S E N S C H A F T 2 ( 2 0 2 0 ) , 1 0 1 – 1 1 4
    42 The­re are still excep­ti­ons: E.g. § 23a I 1 of the Ber­lin Sta­tu­te on
    Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Insti­tu­ti­ons (accor­ding to which „com­pa­ra­ble“
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons have to be reco­gni­zed) or the Sta­tu­te on Higher
    Edu­ca­ti­on Insti­tu­ti­ons of Meck­len­burg-West Pome­ria (which
    ful­ly dele­ga­tes the defi­ni­ti­on of cri­te­ria for reco­gni­ti­on to the
    regu­la­ti­ons of the Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Insti­tu­ti­ons, see § 38 II
    Nr. 8).
    43 Ther­eby the legis­la­tor indi­ca­tes that the­re is a dif­fe­rence between
    „equi­va­lence“ and „lack of sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­rence“ (to that
    ques­ti­on see more in fn. 30. Against this approach Birn­baum, in:
    Beck­OK Hoch­schulR NRW, 13. Ed. 1.12.2019, § 63a 23 b, who
    regards the two parts of s. 1 to be a con­tra­dic­tio in adiecto.
    44 Free trans­la­ti­on of the ori­gi­nal text: „Prü­fungs­leis­tun­gen, die in
    Stu­di­en­gän­gen an ande­ren staat­li­chen oder staat­lich anerkannten
    Hoch­schu­len, an staat­li­chen oder staat­lich anerkannten
    Berufs­aka­de­mien, in Stu­di­en­gän­gen an aus­län­di­schen staatlichen
    oder staat­lich aner­kann­ten Hoch­schu­len oder in einem anderen
    Stu­di­en­gang der­sel­ben Hoch­schu­le erbracht wor­den sind, werden
    auf Antrag aner­kannt, sofern hin­sicht­lich der erwor­be­nen Kompetenzen
    kein wesent­li­cher Unter­schied zu den Leis­tun­gen besteht, die
    ersetzt wer­den; eine Prü­fung der Gleich­wer­tig­keit fin­det nicht statt.
    Das Glei­che gilt hin­sicht­lich Stu­di­en­ab­schlüs­sen, mit denen Studiengänge
    im Sin­ne des Sat­zes 1 abge­schlos­sen wor­den sind. Die
    Aner­ken­nung im Sin­ne der Sät­ze 1 und 2 dient der Fortsetzung
    des Stu­di­ums, dem Able­gen von Prü­fun­gen, der Auf­nah­me eines
    wei­te­ren Stu­di­ums oder der Zulas­sung zur Promotion.“
    45 See Figu­re 4.15, Bolo­gna Pro­cess Imple­men­ta­ti­on Report (fn. 2),
    p. 145.
    46 Only for stu­dy pro­gramms which are com­pl­eta­ted by a
    sta­te­ex­ami­nia­ti­on the com­pe­tence for reco­gni­ti­on lies with the
    respec­ti­ve sta­te exami­na­ti­on authorities.
    2) the­re is reco­gni­ti­on if no sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­ren­ces can be
    3) legis­la­ti­on or gui­de­lines encou­ra­ge com­pa­ring of
    lear­ning out­co­mes rather than pro­gram contents,
    4) in cases of nega­ti­ve decis­i­ons the competent
    reco­gni­ti­on aut­ho­ri­ty demons­tra­tes the exis­tence of
    sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­rence, and the
    5) applicant‘s right to appeal.
    Actual­ly all the­se prin­ci­ples are eit­her by means of law or
    by means of gui­de­lines ack­now­led­ged in the German
    reco­gni­ti­on prac­ti­ce. Still, the Ger­man recognition
    prac­ti­ce can­not be descri­bed as a prac­ti­ce of completely
    or almost “auto­ma­tic reco­gni­ti­on” and has pro­blems to
    ensu­re trans­pa­ren­cy, cohe­rence and relia­bi­li­ty as demanded
    through Art. III.2 Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Convention.
    A clo­ser look at the Ger­man situa­ti­on reve­als at least
    some reasons for the­se deficiencies:
  3. The imple­men­ta­ti­on of the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Convention
    through regu­la­ti­ons of the Län­der and higher
    edu­ca­ti­on institutions
    In Ger­ma­ny, being a fede­ral sta­te, legis­la­ti­ve power
    con­cer­ning insti­tu­ti­ons of hig­her edu­ca­ti­on falls within
    the com­pe­ten­ces of the 16 Län­der (Ger­man constituent
    sta­tes). All of them offer a some­what dif­fe­ring legal
    frame­work that has to be fil­led in by regu­la­ti­ons of higher
    edu­ca­ti­on insti­tu­ti­ons, which enjoy the power to regulate
    their own mat­ters as part of their “aca­de­mic freedom”
    gua­ran­teed in Art. 5 III of the Ger­man constitution.
    Most, alt­hough still not all, Sta­tu­tes of the German
    Län­der deal­ing with aca­de­mic reco­gni­ti­on have modified
    the wor­ding of the rele­vant pro­vi­si­ons by adop­ting the
    “Lis­bon ter­mi­no­lo­gy”: they no lon­ger demand
    “equi­va­lence” but offer reco­gni­ti­on “despi­te substantial
    dif­fe­ren­ces are given“.42 Some of them spe­ci­fy that
    “sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­ren­ces” hin­de­ring reco­gni­ti­on must
    affect “know­ledge and skills” cer­ti­fied with a certain
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on, that means they must affect the “lear­ning
    out­co­me”. An exam­p­le is § 63a of the North Rhine
    West­fa­li­an Sta­tu­te on Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Institutions,
    which sta­tes in para­graph 1: “1Examinations that have
    been pas­sed in cour­ses of stu­dy at ano­ther sta­te or state
    appro­ved aca­de­my (in Ger­ma­ny) as well as examinations
    that have been pas­sed in cour­ses of stu­dy offe­red by a
    for­eign sta­te or sta­te appro­ved aca­de­my will be
    reco­gni­zed upon request despi­te the com­pe­ten­ces obtained
    dif­fer sub­stan­ti­al­ly from tho­se that shall be sub­sti­tu­ted.” In
    2019 the­re was appen­ded: “an assess­ment of equivalence
    will not take place”.43 S. 2 and 3 com­ple­tes: “2 The same
    appli­es to final degrees that com­ple­te cour­ses of stu­dy in
    the sen­se of S. 1. 3 Reco­gni­ti­on in the sen­se of s. 1 and 2
    aims at pur­su­an­ce of fur­ther stu­dies, pas­sing of
    exami­na­ti­ons, the take up of ano­ther cour­se of stu­dy or
    access to doc­to­ral stu­dies. (…).”44
    Howe­ver the respec­ti­ve sta­tu­to­ry law of the Länder
    usual­ly does not spe­ci­fy when „sub­stan­ti­al differences“
    are given. They abs­tain from that in order to safeguard
    the auto­no­my of hig­her edu­ca­ti­on insti­tu­ti­ons, which in
    Ger­ma­ny, like in the vast majo­ri­ty of the EHEA
    countries,45 are the com­pe­tent aut­ho­ri­ties for academic
    As a con­se­quence, pre­cise cri­te­ria for recognition
    have to be taken from the regu­la­ti­ons of hig­her education
    insti­tu­ti­ons. The­se regu­la­ti­ons on reco­gni­ti­on vary
    signi­fi­cant­ly in con­tent and ter­mi­no­lo­gy – a fact that
    ren­ders them some­ti­mes dif­fi­cult to hand­le. Not all of
    tho­se regu­la­ti­ons spe­ci­fy the “Lis­bon Stan­dard” at all.
    Pen­ßel · Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Diplo­mas and Qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons 1 0 9
    47 All­ge­mei­ne Stu­di­en- und Prü­fungs­ord­nung für die Bache­lor- und
    Mas­ter­stu­di­en­gän­ge der Phi­lo­so­phi­schen Fakul­tät und Fachbereich
    Theo­lo­gie der Fried­rich-Alex­an­der-Uni­ver­si­tät Erlangen-
    Nürn­berg of the 27th of Sep­tem­ber 2007, late­ly chan­ged at the
    28th of August 2019.
    48 Free trans­la­ti­on of the ori­gi­nal wor­ding: Stu­di­en­zei­ten, Module,
    Stu­di­en­leis­tun­gen und Prü­fungs­leis­tun­gen, die in ande­ren Studiengängen
    an der FAU oder an ande­ren staat­li­chen oder staatlich
    aner­kann­ten Hoch­schu­len in der Bun­des­re­pu­blik Deutschland
    (…) oder in Stu­di­en­gän­gen an einer aus­län­di­schen Hochschule
    erbracht wor­den sind, wer­den bei einem Stu­di­um nach dieser
    Prü­fungs­ord­nung aner­kannt, außer es bestehen wesentliche
    Unter­schie­de hin­sicht­lich der erwor­be­nen Kompetenzen.
    49 Free trans­la­ti­on of the ori­gi­nal wor­ding in § 13 IV 1, 2 Allgemeine
    Prü­fungs­ord­nung für Bache­lor- und Master-Studiengänge
    sowie sons­ti­ge Stu­di­en­gän­ge an der Uni­ver­si­tät Göttingen,
    Stand: AM I Nr. 54 v. 9.11.2017: „1Studienzeiten, Stu­di­en- und
    Prü­fungs­leis­tun­gen bezie­hungs­wei­se Kom­pe­ten­zen, die in anderen
    Stu­di­en­gän­gen oder außer­halb einer Hoch­schu­le erbracht
    wur­den, wer­den auf Antrag ange­rech­net, soweit kein wesentlicher
    Unter­schied gegen­über den Kom­pe­ten­zen, die im Fal­le eines
    Stu­di­ums an der Uni­ver­si­tät Göt­tin­gen erwor­ben wor­den wären,
    fest­ge­stellt wer­den kann; (…) 2Kein wesent­li­cher Unterschied
    besteht jeden­falls, wenn die auf Grund eines Moduls vermittelten
    Kom­pe­ten­zen bezie­hungs­wei­se Lern­ergeb­nis­se, Qua­li­tät und
    Niveau der Aus­bil­dung sowie Anrech­nungs­punk­te denjenigen
    von Modu­len des Stu­di­en­gangs im Wesent­li­chen entsprechen.“
    Other regu­la­ti­ons of hig­her edu­ca­ti­on insti­tu­ti­ons try to define
    the reco­gni­ti­on cri­te­ria more pre­cis­e­ly, but might ther­eby fail to
    meet the requi­re­ments of the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Convention.
    An exam­p­le is the Exami­na­ti­on Regu­la­ti­on for the Bache­lor in
    Histo­ry at the Lud­wig-Maxi­mi­li­ans-Uni­ver­si­ty in Munich (Prü­fungs-
    und Stu­di­en­ord­nung der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
    Mün­chen für den Bache­lor­stu­di­en­gang Geschich­te v. 16.3.2010,
    09ge-ba-10-ps00.pdf (15.2.2020)), which sta­tes in § 26 III, IV:
    „Qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons achie­ved at for­eign aca­de­mies will be normally
    reco­gni­zed bes­i­des they are not equi­va­lent. Qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons are
    equi­va­lent when they essen­ti­al­ly con­form to the local cour­se of
    stu­dy in con­tent, quan­ti­ty and in its demands.” (in Ger­man: „(3)
    Stu­di­en­zei­ten, Stu­di­en- und Prü­fungs­leis­tun­gen, die an ausländischen
    Hoch­schu­len erbracht wor­den sind, wer­den in der Regel
    aner­kannt, außer sie sind nicht gleich­wer­tig. (4) 1Studienzeiten,
    Stu­di­en- und Prü­fungs­leis­tun­gen sind gleich­wer­tig, wenn sie in
    Inhalt, Umfang und in den Anfor­de­run­gen den­je­ni­gen dieses
    Bache­lor­stu­di­en­gangs an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
    Mün­chen im Wesent­li­chen ent­spre­chen“.) This pro­vi­si­on adopts
    the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on inso­far as it con­fers the burden
    of pro­of to the reco­gni­zing aut­ho­ri­ty. Howe­ver, as criterion
    for reco­gni­ti­on it requi­res “equi­va­lence” in “con­tent, quantity
    and demand”. This might con­tra­ve­ne the inten­ti­on of the Lisbon
    Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on out­lined abo­ve, at least when it leads to
    an rest­ric­ti­ve under­stan­ding of „equi­va­lence“.
    50 Hoch­schul­rek­to­ren­kon­fe­renz (ed.), Aner­ken­nung (fn. 24),
    p. 2. It resu­mes: The cru­cial ques­ti­on in the assess­ment of given
    (poten­ti­al­ly „sub­stan­ti­al“) dif­fe­ren­ces is whe­ther the qualification
    achie­ved in a for­eign coun­try will enable the stu­dent to pursue
    his or her stu­dies sucessful­ly. Only when the sucess of subsequent
    stu­dies is doubtful, a „sub­stan­ti­al“ dif­fe­rence can be approved.
    51 See Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on Com­mit­tee, Revi­sed Recommendation
    on Cri­te­ria and Pro­ce­du­res for the Assess­met of
    For­eign Qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons, adopted at its 5th mee­ting, 23. June 2010;
    Recom­men­da­ti­on No. 36.
    52 Hoch­schul­rek­to­ren­kon­fe­renz (ed.), Aner­ken­nung (fn. 24), p. 25,
    taken from Bergan/Hunt (eds.), Deve­lo­ping Atti­tu­des to Recognition:
    Sub­stan­ti­al Dif­fe­ren­ces in an Age of Glo­ba­liza­ti­on. Council
    of Euro­pe Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Series No. 13, Stras­bourg, 2009, p. 9.
    Some of them abs­tain com­ple­te­ly from spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­on and
    mere­ly repeat the wor­ding of the Län­der legis­la­ti­on. An
    exam­p­le is § 15 of the Gene­ral Exami­na­ti­on Regulation
    for Bache­lor and Mas­ter Stu­dies at the Facul­ty of
    Phi­lo­so­phy at the Fre­de­rick Alex­an­der University
    Erlangen-Nuremberg,47 which sta­tes: “Peri­ods of study
    and qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons that have been achie­ved in cour­ses of
    stu­dy at ano­ther sta­te or sta­te appro­ved aca­de­my in
    Ger­ma­ny (…) or qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons that have been achieved
    in cour­ses of stu­dy offe­red by a for­eign aca­de­my will be
    (…) reco­gni­zed despi­te the lear­ning out­co­mes are
    sub­stan­ti­al­ly different.“48
    Others for­mu­la­te a defi­ni­ti­on which does not fully
    live up to its pur­po­se. This is for exam­p­le the case when
    the Exami­na­ti­on Regu­la­ti­on for Bache­lor and Master
    Stu­dies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Göt­tin­gen explains that “a
    sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­rence is at least not given, if (the
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on) (…) sub­stan­ti­al­ly cor­re­sponds to the
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on it shall substitute”.49
    None of the regu­la­ti­ons that were che­cked for the
    pre­pa­ra­ti­on of this artic­le took over the (howe­ver not
    legal­ly bin­ding) spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons of “sub­stan­ti­al
    dif­fe­ren­ces” pro­po­sed in docu­ments published by the
    Coun­cil of Euro­pe and in the rele­vant Manu­al issued
    by the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz:50 They did not
    adopt that – accor­ding to the Lis­bon Recognition
    Con­ven­ti­on Com­mit­tee – only tho­se dif­fe­ren­ces can
    jus­ti­fy the deni­al of reco­gni­ti­on which are “sub­stan­ti­al
    in view of the pur­po­se for which reco­gni­ti­on is
    sought”.51 And none of them took over the even more
    pre­cise and far-rea­ching spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons refer­red by the
    Manu­al of the Hoch­schul­rek­to­ren­kon­fe­renz, that
    “essen­ti­al­ly, sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­ren­ces are (only) those
    that may have a serious impact on the fit­ness of the
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on for the pur­po­se for which the learner
    would like to use it”52 and that “sub­stan­ti­al differences
    1 1 0 O R D N U N G D E R WI S S E N S C H A F T 2 ( 2 0 2 0 ) , 1 0 1 – 1 1 4
    53 Hoch­schul­rek­to­ren­kon­fe­renz (ed.), Aner­ken­nung (fn. 24), p. 25,
    taken from Lifel­ong Lear­ning Pro­gram­me (ed.), Euro­pean Area of
    Reco­gni­ti­on Manu­al. Prac­ti­cal Gui­de­lines for Fair Reco­gni­ti­on of
    Qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons, p. 42.
    54 Thus not all of them pro­vi­de what is recom­men­ded in III. 6. of
    the (not legal­ly bin­ding) Revi­sed Recom­men­da­ti­on on Procedures
    and Cri­te­ria for the Assess­ment of For­eign Qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons and
    Peri­ods of Stu­dy (fn. 51): that „(…) cri­te­ria for the assess­ment of
    for­eign qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons should be trans­pa­rent, coher­ent and reliable
    and they should peri­odi­cal­ly be reviewed …“.
    55 See fn. 30.
    56 For an exten­si­ve deba­te on this and other aspects of the respective
    decis­i­ons see Mor­gen­roth, Wesent­li­cher Unter­schied oder „der
    Sache nach erbracht“ – neue Ent­wick­lun­gen zur Anerkennung
    von Prü­fungs­leis­tun­gen an staat­li­chen Hoch­schu­len, DÖD 2018,
    pp. 177–192.
    57 OVG Müns­ter, Urt. v. 20.6.2017, Az 14 A 1776/16, NWVBl 2017,
    58 VG Aachen Urt. V. 29.6.2016, Az. 6 K 1107/16- juirs, para. 15.
    59 Ibd. para. 33.
    60 OVG Müns­ter, Urt. v. 16.12.2015 – 14 A 1263/14, DÖV 2016,
    353 = NWVBl 2016, 212.
    61 OVG Müns­ter, Urt. v. 20.6.2017, Az 14 A 1776/16 (= NWVBl
    2017, 534), para. 36; Urt. v. 16.12.2015 – 14 A 1263/14 (=NWVBl.
    2016, 212), para. 23.
    62 BVerwG, Beschl. v. 9.1.2018, Az. 6 B 63/17, NVwZ-RR 2018, 308.
    are dif­fe­ren­ces bet­ween the for­eign qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on and
    the natio­nal qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on that are so signi­fi­cant that
    they would most likely pre­vent the appli­cant from
    suc­cee­ding in the desi­red acti­vi­ty such as further
    stu­dy, rese­arch acti­vi­ty (…)”.53
    If the cri­te­ria for reco­gni­ti­on are not defi­ned precisely,
    decis­i­ons are only pre­dic­ta­ble for the appli­cant in cases
    in which spe­cial agree­ments on equi­va­lence exist (i.e. in
    part­ner­ships of indi­vi­du­al hig­her edu­ca­ti­on institutions).
    In other cases, decis­i­ons remain fair­ly intrans­pa­rent and
    as a con­se­quence of their unclear sca­le, not very reliable.
    The­r­e­fo­re we can note that one obs­ta­cle for fair
    reco­gni­ti­on in Ger­ma­ny is that at least some higher
    edu­ca­ti­on insti­tu­ti­ons do not offer a pre­cise defi­ni­ti­on of
    reco­gni­ti­on cri­te­ria com­ply­ing with the requi­re­ments of
    the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Convention.54
  4. Spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­on of reco­gni­ti­on cri­te­ria in current
    Of even big­ger rele­van­ce might be that the term „lack of
    sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­ren­ces“ has recent­ly been spe­ci­fied in
    juris­dic­tion. Ther­eby the courts did not only iden­ti­fy “lack
    of sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­rence” with “equi­va­lence” (which might
    bare­ly com­ply with the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on if
    “equi­va­lence” is inter­pre­ted in an appro­pria­te way).55
    Moreo­ver they defi­ned “equi­va­lence” through specifications
    that con­tra­ve­ne not only the inten­ti­on but also the wording
    of the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Convention:56 in 2017 the OVG
    Müns­ter, the Hig­her Admi­nis­tra­ti­ve Court of North
    Rhi­ne Westfalia,57 had to rule on whe­ther a Czech
    stu­dent can demand reco­gni­ti­on for her master’s thesis,
    pre­pared and asses­sed at the Czech Uni­ver­si­ty of Life
    Sci­en­ces in Pra­gue. Accor­ding to the defendant’s
    argu­men­ta­ti­on befo­re the Court of First Ins­tance (the
    Admi­nis­tra­ti­ve Court of Aachen) reco­gni­ti­on for the
    pur­po­se of fur­ther edu­ca­ti­on had to be denied because
    the master’s the­sis had been pre­pared in different
    cir­cum­s­tances and becau­se it has not been writ­ten in
    Ger­man or Eng­lish, which would have been obligatory
    accor­ding to the exami­na­ti­on regu­la­ti­on of this cour­se of
    stu­dies at the Ger­man university.58 The Court of First
    Ins­tance affirm­ed that the fact that the clai­mants master’s
    the­sis had not been writ­ten in Ger­man of English
    con­sti­tu­tes a “sub­stan­ti­al difference“.59 In that context,
    the OVG Müns­ter had to deci­de whe­ther “sub­stan­ti­al
    dif­fe­ren­ces” in the under­stan­ding of § 63a North Rhine
    West­fa­li­an Sta­tu­te on Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Insti­tu­ti­ons had
    been pro­ven. The court declared accor­ding to a preceding
    decis­i­on in 201560 that sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­ren­ces are only
    absent when the qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on to be recognized,
    cor­re­sponds to the qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on that is to be substituted
    in respect of con­tent and quan­ti­ty of the examinated
    sub­ject mat­ter and in respect of form and length of the
    exami­na­ti­on. Hig­her edu­ca­ti­on insti­tu­ti­ons could only
    be obli­ged to reco­gni­ze a for­eign qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on that is so
    clo­se to the deman­ded qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on that it could be
    cal­led “the same in sub­s­tance” (in Ger­man: wenn die
    Qua­li­fi­ka­ti­on “in der Sache erbracht” wurde).61 The
    claimant’s mas­ter the­sis missed that stan­dard as it dealt
    with a sub­ject the stu­dent would not have been able to
    choo­se at her new uni­ver­si­ty – as the sub­ject of the
    mas­ter the­sis could in gene­ral not be cho­sen free­ly there.
    Accor­ding to the court, this inter­pre­ta­ti­on of the term
    “lack of sub­stan­ti­al dif­fe­ren­ces” is neces­sa­ry, as otherwise
    the aca­de­mic free­dom gua­ran­teed within the German
    con­sti­tu­ti­on (Art. 5 III GG) would be vio­la­ted. The
    Bun­des­ver­wal­tungs­ge­richt (BVerwG), the Highest
    Admi­nis­tra­ti­ve court in Ger­ma­ny, con­firm­ed this
    decis­i­on in 201862 by adding the argu­ment that any more
    gene­rous stan­dard of reco­gni­ti­on would be an
    Pen­ßel · Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Diplo­mas and Qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons 1 1 1
    uncon­sti­tu­tio­nal dis­cri­mi­na­ti­on of local stu­dents: To
    safe­guard equa­li­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties (gua­ran­teed by Art. 3
    I i.V.m. Art. 12 I GG) only tho­se exami­na­ti­ons can be
    reco­gni­zed that “coin­ci­de with regard to con­tent and
    exami­na­ti­on conditions”.63 It even indi­ca­tes that it would
    mean an uncon­sti­tu­tio­nal dis­cri­mi­na­ti­on of local
    stu­dents if qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons are reco­gni­zed that have (only)
    been for­mu­la­ted in a lan­guage which can­not be chosen
    by local stu­dents, as tho­se have to stick to the languages
    offe­red by the exami­na­ti­on regu­la­ti­on of their
    When inter­pre­ting the law of North Rhi­ne Westfalia,
    the OVG Müns­ter did not men­ti­on the Lisbon
    Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on as back­ground of the
    refor­mu­la­ted sca­le for reco­gni­ti­on decis­i­ons in present
    legis­la­ti­on (which took the place of § 20 HRG, that
    deman­ded the ack­now­ledgment of “equi­va­lence”). It did
    not ques­ti­on whe­ther the pur­po­se of § 63a NRWHG or
    its back­ground in inter­na­tio­nal law argued for an
    inter­pre­ta­ti­on that coin­ci­des with the inten­ti­on of the
    Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on. And neither the OVG
    Müns­ter nor the Bun­des­ver­wal­tungs­ge­richt mentioned
    Art. 24 CRD or Art. 18 TFEU, alt­hough the claimant
    being an EU citi­zen resi­ding in a host mem­ber sta­te and
    the deni­al of reco­gni­ti­on becau­se an exam was pas­sed in
    a for­eign lan­guage could be an indi­rect discrimination
    becau­se of nationality.
    It is high­ly doubtful, whe­ther more generous
    reco­gni­ti­on obli­ga­ti­ons actual­ly vio­la­te the German
    con­sti­tu­ti­on. It is not pos­si­ble here to reflect about
    this in detail.65 Howe­ver, the aut­hor is con­vin­ced that
    in the end this is not the case, e.g. as “dis­ad­van­ta­ges”
    for local stu­dents can be jus­ti­fied through the purpose
    of reco­gni­ti­on, which lies in redu­cing disadvantages
    that neces­s­a­ri­ly occur with any move­ment between
    dif­fe­rent hig­her edu­ca­ti­on insti­tu­ti­ons, especially
    across natio­nal bor­ders and under the cir­cum­s­tance of
    wide aca­de­mic free­dom which leads to significant
    dif­fe­ren­ces in stu­dy pro­grams and hig­her education
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons (in order to bene­fit from the advantages
    of mobi­li­ty within and across natio­nal bor­ders, as are
    inter alia the widening of the stu­dents per­spec­ti­ve on
    their sub­ject and the world in gene­ral or the promotion
    of inter­na­tio­nal understanding).66
    And the decis­i­ons can fur­ther­mo­re be cri­ti­ci­zed due
    to their com­ple­te igno­rance of inter­na­tio­nal law: 1) The
    OVG Müns­ter inter­pre­ted § 63a NRWHG without
    men­tio­ning its back­ground in inter­na­tio­nal law, although
    Ger­man legal scholarship67 and case law68 has established
    a prin­ci­ple cal­led “völ­ker­rechts­freund­li­che Auslegung”.69
    It demands that when the inter­pre­ta­ti­on of a pro­vi­si­on is
    doubtful, an inter­pre­ta­ti­on in accordance with (the
    trans­po­sed) inter­na­tio­nal law has to be cho­sen, as long as
    it is fea­si­ble. 2) The decis­i­on of the BVerwG indi­ca­tes that
    it could or would be a vio­la­ti­on of the German
    con­sti­tu­ti­on if qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons pas­sed in a for­eign language
    are reco­gni­zed. This prin­ci­ple can­not be formulated
    wit­hout asking the ques­ti­on whe­ther it com­pli­es with
    Art. 24 I CRD70 (which final­ly must be ans­we­red by the
    Art. 24 I CRD in prin­ci­ple does not only prohibit
    direct but also indi­rect dis­cri­mi­na­ti­on becau­se of
    natio­na­li­ty. The under­stan­ding that the use of a
    lan­guage dif­fe­rent from the lan­guage of ins­truc­tion at
    the host uni­ver­si­ty con­sti­tu­tes a „sub­stan­ti­al
    dif­fe­rence“ bet­ween qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons in its­elf can be
    63 Ibid. para. 9, in Ger­man: „Daher kommt eine Aner­ken­nung zur
    Wah­rung der Chan­cen­gleich­heit nach Art. 3 Abs. 1 i.V.m. Art. 12
    Abs. 1 GG nur in Betracht, wenn die Stu­die­ren­den den durch
    die Prü­fung zu erbrin­gen­den Nach­weis bestimm­ter Kenntnisse
    und Fähig­kei­ten bereits durch die ander­wei­ti­ge Prüfungsleistung
    erbracht haben. Hier­für müs­sen bei­de Prü­fun­gen in Bezug auf
    Prü­fungs­stoff und Prü­fungs­be­din­gun­gen übereinstimmen.“
    The­r­ein the BVerwG affirms and streng­thens a for­mer decision
    of the 22. of June 2016, Az. 6 B 21/16 (= NVwZ-RR 2016, 783),
    espe­ci­al­ly para. 13–15.
    64 BVerwG, Beschl. v. 9.1.2018, Az. 6 B 63/17 (= NVwZ-RR 2018,
    308), para. 12.
    65 For a detail­led dis­cus­sion see Mor­gen­roth (fn. 56), pp. 183 seq.
    66 In fact – in rever­se – dis­ad­van­ta­ges of mobi­le stu­dents require
    fair reco­gni­ti­on and every deni­al of reco­gni­ti­on must be justified
    as it refu­ses com­pen­sa­ti­on of tho­se dis­ad­van­ta­ges. Concerning
    aca­de­mic free­dom one has to ans­wer whe­ther the legal obligation
    to reco­gni­ze qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons which are in a cer­tain way comparable
    to tho­se requi­red by the hig­her edu­ca­ti­on insti­tu­ti­on itself
    acu­t­ally means an enchroach­ment upon aca­de­mic freedom.
    Con­cer­ning this mat­ter the Con­sti­tu­tio­nal Court of Germany
    (BVerfG) not only sta­ted that the com­pe­tence to pass examination
    regu­la­ti­ons is pro­tec­ted by the fun­da­men­tal right of academic
    free­dom but also that „the orga­ni­sa­ti­on of sci­en­ti­fic organisations
    – inclu­ding regu­la­ti­ons on tea­ching and exami­na­ti­on – is in principle
    left to the legis­la­tor“ („die Aus­ge­stal­tung von Wissenschaftsorganisationen
    ein­schließ­lich des Lehr- und Prüfungsrechts
    (ist) grund­sätz­lich dem Gesetz­ge­ber über­las­sen“, see BVerfG v.
    26.6.2015, DÖV 2015, 888 (889, para. 19)).
    67 See e.g. Tomu­schat, Ent­schei­dung für inter­na­tio­na­le Offenheit,
    in: Isensee/Kirchhof (eds.), Hand­buch des Staats­rechts, Vol. XI,
    3rd ed., 2013, § 226 com­ment 36; Hof­mann, Der Grund­satz der
    völ­ker­rechts­freund­li­chen Aus­le­gung, JURA 2013, pp. 326–333.
    68 See e.g. BVerfGE 58, 1 (34); 74, 358 (370); BVerfG, Nichtannahmebeschl.
    v. 28.9.2006, Az. 2 BvR 1731/04 — juris, Rn. 7–13;
    BVerw­GE 75, 285 (288); Hes­si­sches Lan­des­so­zi­al­ge­richt, Urt.
    v. 24.11.2010, Az. L 6 AS 168/08 — juris (= EuG 2011, 332–342),
    para. 36.
    69 This instru­ment, the „völ­ker­rechts­freund­li­che Aus­le­gung“, must
    not be per­cei­ved as a method of inter­pre­ting law which is added
    to the methods com­mon­ly ack­now­led­ged. It can also – or even
    bet­ter – per­cei­ved as a term to descri­be the sys­te­ma­tic and teleological
    inter­pre­ti­on of laws which were estab­lished to transpose
    inter­na­tio­nal law.
    70 Or in cases in which the appli­cant does not resi­de in a host state:
    with Art. 18 TFEU.
    1 1 2 O R D N U N G D E R WI S S E N S C H A F T 2 ( 2 0 2 0 ) , 1 0 1 – 1 1 4
    per­cei­ved as an indi­rect dis­cri­mi­na­ti­on due to
    natio­na­li­ty, as qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons in other Mem­ber States,
    which are typi­cal­ly achie­ved by the natio­nals of those
    sta­tes, are typi­cal­ly deman­ded in the offi­ci­al language
    of this Mem­ber Sta­te (or in Eng­lish, howe­ver not in all
    other offi­ci­al lan­guages of the EU).
    The­r­e­fo­re we have to ans­wer the ques­ti­on whether
    this kind of indi­rect dis­cri­mi­na­ti­on can be justified.71 It
    is assu­med that (in gene­ral) jus­ti­fi­ca­ti­on fails: In most
    aca­de­mic stu­dies the qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons that have to be
    obtai­ned do not depend on the lan­guage in which they
    have been pre­sen­ted. Inso­far, a cer­tain lan­guage is not
    essen­ti­al for that qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on (excep­ti­ons are possible,
    for exam­p­le when in stu­dies of law it is a key competence
    to be able to under­stand and use a cer­tain language).
    Bes­i­des, one has to keep in mind, that the pro­of of
    whe­ther the appli­cants Ger­man is good enough to follow
    fur­ther stu­dies in Ger­man (which could be the case
    alt­hough he or she pas­sed exams in a for­eign lan­guage) is
    neces­sa­ry irre­spec­ti­ve of the reco­gni­ti­on of certain
    qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons. Suf­fi­ci­ent lan­guage skills are an
    inde­pen­dent, in gene­ral jus­ti­fia­ble cri­ter­ion for the mere
    access to a Ger­man uni­ver­si­ty. It is the­r­e­fo­re neither
    neces­sa­ry nor reasonable to com­bi­ne the recognition
    decis­i­on with the pro­of, if the appli­cants Ger­man is good
    enough to fol­low fur­ther stu­dies in German.72
    III. Conclusion
    Tho­se fin­dings lead to the fol­lo­wing con­clu­si­on: Even the
    imple­men­ta­ti­on in Ger­man law which was positively
    eva­lua­ted within the 2018 Bolo­gna Report falls short of
    the demands of the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on in
    dif­fe­rent respects:
    It does, at least par­ti­al­ly, not pro­vi­de pre­cise, reliable
    cri­te­ria for the lack of “sub­stan­ti­al differences”.
    And at least accor­ding to the pre­vai­ling case law it
    allows reco­gni­ti­on only in cases of strict “equi­va­lence”
    (by deny­ing equi­va­lence with argu­ments that conflict
    with EU law). This is of gre­at importance as in the end
    it will be the natio­nal courts who deci­de on conflicts
    about gran­ting recognition.
    From that, we can see that alre­a­dy bet­ter knowledge
    and bet­ter con­side­ra­ti­on of the exis­ting inter­na­tio­nal law
    could help to enhan­ce reco­gni­ti­on. Espe­ci­al­ly EU law,
    even its gua­ran­tees of equal tre­at­ment, can foster
    reco­gni­ti­on, as it has supre­ma­cy over natio­nal law and
    can be enforced through the bodies of the EU, mainly
    through the CJEU. The­r­e­fo­re, pro­fes­sio­nal reco­gni­ti­on is
    easier to enforce than aca­de­mic reco­gni­ti­on (which is
    less deter­mi­ned by EU law). But that does not mean that
    the­re is not­hing left to do:
    From the Ger­man per­spec­ti­ve in some Län­der a more
    pre­cise for­mu­la­ti­on of reco­gni­ti­on stan­dards in statutory
    law would help. In addi­ti­on it is useful that within the
    pro­cess of assess­ment of hig­her edu­ca­ti­on institutions
    instru­ments are estab­lished to secu­re that higher
    edu­ca­ti­on insti­tu­ti­ons for­mu­la­te pre­cise and lawful
    cri­te­ria for recognition,73 becau­se wit­hout pre­cise criteria
    pre­dic­ta­ble, relia­ble decis­i­ons can­not be reached.
    Der Arti­kel gibt einen Über­blick über die rechtlichen
    Regeln, die inner­halb der EU und des Europäischen
    Hoch­schul­raums für die Aner­ken­nung von Hochschulleistungen
    gel­ten. Dabei muss zwi­schen der Anerkennung
    für die Zwe­cke der Erwerbs­tä­tig­keit und für die
    71 To the pos­si­bi­li­ty to jus­ti­fy dis­cri­mi­na­ti­ons gene­ral­ly prohibited
    by Art. 18 TFEU see e.g. Epi­ney, in: Calliess/Ruffert (eds.), EUV/
    AEUV, 5th ed., 2016, com­ment 37 with refe­rence to relevant
    juris­dic­tion of the CJEU. We assu­me that the­ses prin­ci­ples can be
    trans­fer­red when inter­pre­ting Art. 24 CRD.
    72 Inso­far the decis­i­ons dis­cus­sed here might be regard­ed as an
    exam­p­le for the con­fla­ti­on of the decis­i­on on whe­ther to admit
    or not to admit a stu­dent with the decis­i­on about wether to recognize
    a par­ti­cu­lar qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on, which the 2018 Bolo­gna Process
    Imple­men­ta­ti­on Report (fn. 2), p. 142, named as one of the
    main pre­vai­ling obs­ta­cles for broad reco­gni­ti­on. The arguments
    pre­sen­ted abo­ve do not exclude that in cer­tain cases an applicant
    can be requi­red to offer a (who­le oder par­ti­al) trans­la­ti­on of his
    exami­na­ti­on work if this is neces­sa­ry to assess wether substantial
    dif­fe­ren­ces are given or not.
    73 This has alre­a­dy been put into prac­ti­ce: Accor­ding to the Rules
    on Accre­di­ti­on of Cour­ses of Stu­dy and Sys­tems (Regeln für die
    Akkre­di­tie­rung von Stu­di­en­gän­gen und für die Systemakkreditierung,
    Stand: 20.2.2013,
    pdf (15.2.2020), p. 11), issued by the Ger­man Accreditation
    Coun­cil, the con­cept of a cour­se of stu­dy has to for­mu­la­te rules
    for the reco­gni­ti­on of for­eign qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons that com­ply with the
    Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Con­ven­ti­on (free trans­la­ti­on of the German
    wor­ding: „(Das Stu­di­en­gang­kon­zept) legt die Zugangsvoraussetzungen
    (…) fest sowie Aner­ken­nungs­re­geln für an anderen
    Hoch­schu­len erbrach­te Leis­tun­gen gemäß der Lis­sa­bon Konvention
    …“.). Howe­ver, pro­vi­si­ons like this can only be applied
    appro­pria­te­ly if it is cla­ri­fied what kind of rules are requi­red by
    the Lis­bon Reco­gni­ti­on Convention.
    Pen­ßel · Hig­her Edu­ca­ti­on Diplo­mas and Qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons 1 1 3
    Fort­füh­rung eines Stu­di­ums unter­schie­den werden.
    Nach der Ein­füh­rung in die Rechts­la­ge wen­det sich der
    Arti­kel den Pro­ble­men zu, die bei der Aner­ken­nung für
    die Fort­füh­rung eines Stu­di­ums auf­tre­ten kön­nen, da
    die­se in der Pra­xis auf grö­ße­re Hin­der­nis­se tref­fen kann,
    weil es an einer Har­mo­ni­sie­rung durch EU-Recht fehlt.
    Zu die­sem Zweck unter­sucht er die Umset­zung der internationalrechtlichen
    Vor­ga­ben der sog. “Lis­sa­bon Konvention”
    (die unter allen für Deutsch­land gegenwärtig
    gel­ten­den Aner­ken­nungs­ab­kom­men den weitesten
    Anwen­dungs­be­reich hat) in das deut­sche Recht. Dabei
    prüft er das ein­schlä­gi­ge Lan­des­recht und verschiedene,
    bei­spiel­haft aus­ge­wähl­te Hoch­schul­sat­zun­gen dar­auf, ob
    und inwie­fern sie die Vor­ga­ben der Lissabon-Konvention
    umset­zen, nach der eine Hoch­schul­leis­tung anzuerkennen
    ist, wenn nicht “wesent­li­che Unter­schie­de” zu
    der sie erset­zen­den Leis­tung nach­ge­wie­sen wer­den können.
    Anschlie­ßend prüft er die jüngst hier­zu ergangene
    Recht­spre­chung (ins­bes. BVerwG, Beschl. v. 9.1.2018,
    NVwZ-RR 2018, 333) dar­auf, ob sie den Vor­ga­ben der
    Lis­sa­bon-Kon­ven­ti­on zur Durch­set­zung ver­hilft. Dabei
    kommt er zu dem Ergeb­nis, dass sie die Vor­ga­ben der
    Lis­sa­bon-Kon­ven­ti­on kon­ter­ka­riert (indem sie eine
    Aner­ken­nung nur für zuläs­sig erklärt, wenn die zu ersetzende
    Leis­tung “in der Sache erbracht” wur­de bzw. beide
    Leis­tun­gen “in Bezug auf Prü­fungs­stoff und Prüfungsbedingungen
    über­ein­stim­men”) und sich außer­dem in
    ihrer kon­kre­ten Begrün­dung zu ein­schlä­gi­gem Unionsrecht
    in Wider­spruch setzt.
    Rena­te Pen­ßel ist Wis­sen­schaft­li­che Mit­ar­bei­te­rin am
    Lehr­stuhl von Prof. Dr. Hein­rich de Wall für
    Kir­chen­recht, Staats- und Ver­wal­tungs­recht an der
    Fried­rich-Alex­an­der-Uni­ver­si­tät Erlangen-Nürnberg.
    Ihre Arbeits- und Inter­es­sen­schwer­punk­te lie­gen im
    gel­ten­den und his­to­ri­schen Kir­chen- und
    Reli­gi­ons­ver­fas­sungs­recht und im Hochschulrecht