Proportionality Test before adoption of new professional regulation
Following the adoption of the Council’s General Approach in June, and the Internal Market Committee (IMCO) report in December 2017, representatives from the Commission, Council and Parliament reached in March a provisional political agreement for the adoption of the text in first reading. In June 2018, the Parliament and the Council formally endorsed this agreement, putting an end to the legislative process. The Directive will enter into force 20 days following its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. Member States will then have two years to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive.
The Directive aims to streamline and clarify how Member States should undertake a proportionality test before introducing new regulation on professions. Such tests shall ensure that professionals can practice across the EU without facing discriminatory and unjustified restrictions.
Read the Directive in all EU languages on the website of the Parliament (provisional versions).
Notification procedure for authorisation schemes and requirements related to services
Following the adoption of the Council’s General Approach in May 2017, and the Internal Market Committee (IMCO) report in December 2017, representatives from the Commission, Council and Parliament met from February 2018 onwards in order to agree on a common text for the adoption of the text in first reading. The inter-institutional negotiations ("trilogue") will continue under the Austrian Presidency of the Council in the second half of 2018.
European Services e-Card
At its meeting on 21 March 2018, the IMCO Committee of the European Parliament voted on two reports regarding the Commission’s proposals to introduce a Services e-Card. The IMCO committee rejected both Commission’s proposals by 21 votes to 14, thus expressing its deep dissatisfaction. However, MEPs did not adopt any report that would be submitted to the plenary sitting. MEPs thus sought to keep open the options of either drafting a new report, or waiting for the position of the Council before deciding on any concrete follow-up, i.e. adopting a new report rejecting the current proposals, or seeking a compromise to amend them.
Four other Parliamentary committees adopted negative opinions on the Commission's proposals, calling on the IMCO committee to reject the proposals. They underlined that these proposals do not solve the problems companies face when going cross-border and do not facilitate the functioning of the internal market. Instead, they would bring many dangers and overlaps with existing tools. The card would risk the introduction of the country of origin principle and create additional administrative structures, while not addressing the issues companies, especially SMEs encounter.
Implementation of Directive 2005/36/EC as regards regulation and the need for reform in professional services
On 18 January 2018, the European Parliament adopted a report on the implementation of Directive 2013/55/EU (amending Directive 2005/36/EC) as regards regulation and the need for reform in professional services. This report is the Parliament's response to the Commission's Communication on reform recommendations for regulation in professional services, in which the Commission invited Member States to improve access to and exercise of certain professions, including architects.
The ACE congratulates the Rapporteurs for their work and welcomes the report, which contributes to a greater recognition of the importance of the quality of professional services and their benefits to the society. The ACE welcomes the position of the Parliament, which rightly recalls important points, namely:
– “ [….] deregulation [of professional services] should not be an end in itself”;
– “the fundamental role played by the professions in the EU economy” and the fact that “the quality of professional services is of paramount importance to preserve the European economic, social and cultural model”,
– “in view of the risks for consumers, professionals or third parties, Member States may reserve certain activities for qualified professionals only”,
– “elements beyond mere economic analysis are needed for an holistic assessment of the performance of the regulatory environment”. The analysis of the impact of regulations in Member States “should be subject not only to a quantitative but also to a qualitative assessment encompassing the general interest objectives and the quality of the service provided”,
– the new Restrictiveness Indicator “should be seen as a purely indicative tool, and not as one permitting the drawing of conclusions as to whether what may be stricter regulation in some Member States is disproportionate”.
For transparency reasons, ACE calls on the EU Commission to make the numerical data and analysis supporting the calculation of the Restrictiveness Indicator public and to review and improve the indicator on a regular basis, in consultation with stakeholders.
However, ACE regrets that the report “calls on the Commission to improve the comparability of different professions and to define a common set of activities for each profession notified in the database, with a view to facilitating voluntary harmonisation across the EU”. ACE believes that the harmonisation of professional services across the EU is not desirable as it would run counter the EU cultural diversity and may ultimately impact on the quality of services provided.
The ACE looks forward to seeing the outcome of the study initiated by the Commission on the quality of professional services and to continuing the dialogue with the EU institutions and Member States on the regulation of professional services.