Transferable Competencies

The European Board of Surgery (EBS) within the UEMS Section of Surgery ( is an official advisory board of the European Commission.

The objectives of the EBS are to assess, set standards for and progressively harmonise the content and quality of training and continuing medical education in all fields of surgery within the member states of the European Union (E.U.) and other UEMS states.

Key qualities of the E.U. are freedom of market, labour and services and the principle of subsidiarity. By that migration within the E.U. is enhanced due the automatic mutual recognition of certain diploma, like e.g. General Surgery. No comparable European legal provisions exist for the newly developed subspecialisations within the broad field of surgery.

There is a trend towards increasing specialisation within surgery which has progressed to different degrees in different parts of Europe and some of the fields of surgery encompassed by the EBS have become recognised in some countries as well-defined or even totally independent surgical specialties.

The trend towards greater specialisation is supported by the EBS whenever consistent with improved standards of clinical practice and training. However, in order to meet the needs of the many European hospitals which are not large enough to justify the same highly compartmentalised departments of surgery that have become the norm in most teaching centers it is essential to ensure that surgeons are able to obtain broadly based training across all the various fields. This makes it essential for newly emerging surgical specialties to continue to collaborate closely within the well-defined framework of the EBS.

In order to encourage beneficial specialisation, while maintaining the integrity of surgery as a whole, it is the policy of the EBS to establish Boards for "transferable competencies" to accommodate the special requirements of well-defined areas of surgical practice. The Boards have responsibility for establishing and monitoring standards of training within their specific field of surgery while the EBS functions as a federation to coordinate the interrelationship, recommendations and actions of the Boards as they develop.

Furthermore, the EBS is empowered to issue "European Board of Surgery Qualifications" (EBSQ) examinations (Board Examinations). The Board Examinations follow strict provisions, rules and quality measures published by the EBS.

Successful candidates are awarded the title "Fellow of the European Board of Surgery F.E.B.S.".

The title F.E.B.S. determines, that the person successfully proved to have validated knowledges and skills, that follow the provisions of the Boards and allow him/her to successfully cover the field of a "transferable competency" in respective to the actual demandings according to the judging of the commission.

In the moment the qualification F.E.B.S. has not yet automatic legal recognition in all E.U. countries. Individual recognition of qualifications by the national authorities is supported by the EBSQ committee and the number of countries officially adopting the Board exam is continuously rising.

For the following "transferable competencies" Boards and Board Examinations are already existing:

  • General Surgery
  • Coloproctology
  • Transplantation
  • Endocrine Surgery
  • Surgical Oncology
  • Hepato-Biliary-Pancreatic Surgery
  • Trauma Surgery
  • Breast Surgery
  • Hand Surgery
  • Esophagus, Cardia & Stomach Surgery
  • Emergency Surgery

For the following "transferable competencies" Boards are emerging and developing:

  • Minimal Invasive Surgery
  • Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery
  • Endoscopy & Gastrointestinal Functional Diagnostics
  • Basic Sciences (for residents)

The Surgical Scientific Societies are encouraged to develop other new Board denominations, applications been made to the EBS.

Wolfgang Feil
President of the European Board of Surgery
Honorary & Foundation President of the Division of General Surgery