The development of European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) physical and rehabilitation medicine programmes of care (PRMPC) and physical and rehabilitation medicine care pathways (PRMCP) in France is a good example of the positive interaction between European and national organizations. PRMPC were defined at the European level to offer a robust template for the description and assessment of physical and rehabilitation medicine (PRM) clinical activity in various fields and contexts. An accreditation procedure was organized as a peer review. It has started to provide very informative documents. In France, discussions on this topic began in 2000. At the end of the same decade, the European approach fostered the interest of French PRM organizations in a period of negotiating with public authorities about two crucial issues: specifications required for reimbursement of functional instrumental assessments in PRM practice and funding of PRM care in postacute facilities. The French Society of PRM (SOFMER) decided to describe the PRM scope in a systematic way, emphasizing the best balance between patient needs, rehabilitation goals, relevant means and justified funding. Nine ‘PRMCP’ have been published since 2010 and others are in progress. PRMPC and PRMCP share the same concern about the best response offered by PRM to patients’ needs. The first approach is the description of a local organization with respect to both scientific evidence and local conditions. The latter is an outline of PRM intervention related to a multidimensional pattern of patients’ situations. Both enhance the role of PRM doctors, whose expertise is necessary for making a synthesis of medical diagnosis and functional assessment, for setting up a patient-centred care strategy and for supervising the rehabilitation team’s intervention.