Services Package: Developments in the European Parliament

July 20th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

(1) IMCO draft report: proportionality test proposal

At the end of June, MEP Andreas Schwab published his draft report on the proportionality test proposal of the European Commission. [The Commission proposal aims at setting up a common framework for conducting proportionality tests when introducing new regulation of professions.] The rapporteur considers that the proposal should not be an instrument of mere ‘de-regulation’ but that the added value of professional regulation should be recognised by putting an emphasis on smart regulation which can further economic growth in the EU.

As far as education and training is concerned, the draft report clarifies / highlights that:

– “the rules concerning professional education and training remain within the competence of Member States, especially concerning the possibility to delegate this task to professional organisations. However, according to established case-law, if those activities are remunerated, free movement should be guaranteed in particular as regards the conditions required for accessing professional training (Case C-313/01 Morgenbesser).” (recital 7b (new))

– “Member States should enjoy a margin of appreciation within which they are able to determine the degree of protection which they wish to afford, and if necessary to strengthen the regulation in place. The fact that one Member State imposes less strict rules than another Member State does not mean that the latter Member State’s rules are disproportionate and therefore incompatible with Union law.” (recital 12)

– “The introduction of additional requirements might be suitable to attain the public interest objectives. (…) For example, the obligation to undergo continuous professional development might be suitable to ensure that professionals keep abreast of developments in their respective areas, as long as it does not lay down discriminatory and disproportionate conditions to the detriment of new entrants. Likewise, compulsory chamber membership should be considered appropriate where professional organisations are entrusted by the State with safeguarding the relevant public interest objectives, for example in supervising the legitimate practice of the profession, or organising or supervising continuous professional training; (…) (recital 20a (new))

(2) Workshop on ‘Reforming professional services’, 11 July 2017

Under the chairmanship of MEP Nicola Danti, two expert panels considered ‘economic effects of regulating professional services’ and ‘recommendations for policy -makers’.

The CCBE was represented by the chair of the EU Lawyers committee, Hugh Mercer, who pointed out that professional rules (such as independence, competence, confidentiality) are necessary to ensure standards and attitudes of professionals to uphold the rule of law. He deplored that ‘free movement of service providers’ is not taken into account in the restrictiveness indicator of the Services Package, noting that the lawyer’s profession has been at the forefront of the free movement of lawyers in Europe. The CCBE also adopted a memorandum of mutual recognition of continuous training activities and furthermore it shares information on disciplinary proceedings in the Member States. The CCBE also discusses innovation and the future of the legal profession and will soon publish its e-book of last year’s conference. Hugh Mercer emphasised that it is not (always) possible for clients to evaluate the quality of services and, therefore, regulation is needed.

The Commission was represented by Martin Frohn who presented the Commission’s work within the framework of the Services Package. In his presentation, he referred to several examples of restrictions identified by the Commission, including reserved activities, noting inter alia: ‘Legal advice of any kind is reserved to lawyers in many Member States hindering other legal consultancy services, in particular online services’. The OECD’s presentation on “No jobs for old lawyers? Disruptive innovations in legal services” specifically focused on lawyers: disruptive innovation – what’s happening in the legal services; the scope of regulatory restrictions and recent reforms in Member States (France and UK/upcoming reforms in Portugal); rationale of regulation – does it still apply?.

For more information, please see presentations-here and recordings-here.

European Parliament: IMCO workshop on ‘Reforming professional services’ postponed to 11 July 2017

June 16th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The workshop which was supposed to take place on 20 June 2017 (see post of 8 June 2017) has now been postponed to 11 July 2017 (9.30-12.30).

The CCBE will be represented at the workshop by Hugh Mercer, chair of the CCBE EU Lawyers Committee.

European Parliament: IMCO workshop on Reforming professional services

June 8th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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The workshop will take place on 20 June 2017, 15.00-18.30, in Brussels.

Two expert panels will focus on economic effects of regulating professional services and recommendations for policy-makers (see here).

More information will be available in the coming days.

Related post(s): European Commission Services Package

Services Package & Proportionality Test: Council agrees on a General Approach

June 1st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Please click here to read the General Approach concerning the Commission proposed ‘Proportionality Test’ Directive. [The proposed directive sets a common framework for conducting proportionality assessments before introducing new, or amending existing, legislative, regulatory or administrative provisions restricting access to or pursuit of regulated professions.] The parts which are of particular interest  from a ‘training’ perspective have been highlighted by the CCBE in yellow.

The European Parliament has also started work on the proposal. The IMCO committee had a first exchange of views on the proposal on 11 May 2017. Several MEPs, including the rapporteur Andreas Schwab, raised on this occasion the question as to whether there is a need for this proposal – first and foremost, the Commission should seek to strengthen the enforcement of existing legislation. (IMCO timetable: 12/13 July – presentation of draft report; 5 September – deadline for amendements; 28 September – vote of amendments; 21/22 November – vote in the Plenary.)

For more information on the Services Package, please consult the post published on 10 January 2017.

Fundamental Rights Report 2017

May 30th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has published today its ‘Fundamental Rights Report 2017’. The Agency notes, amongst others, that “courts, parliaments and governments continued to make only limited use of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, but awareness of the need to train legal professionals on Charter-related issues appeared to be growing.” Section 1.3.2 deals specificaly with the ‘Training related to the Charter’. Accordingly, “2016 offers a more active picture. There appears to be an understanding that, the better legal practitioners are trained, the better the services they deliver. (…) Forty-five Charter-relevant training programmes in 22 EU Member States were reported for 2016. (…) About two thirds of the identified training events targeted legal practitioners.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

European Semester 2017: Commission issues country-specific recommendations

May 23rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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On 22 May 2017, the Commission presented the 2017 country-specific recommendations (CSRs). “Priorities vary across the EU but further efforts across the board are essential to achieve more inclusive, robust and sustainable growth.”, according to the Commission.

The country recommendations include information on education and training but on a more general level. Some country recommendations specifically concern the lawyer’s profession and its rules, including the rules on shareholding and company forms, multidisciplinary partnerhsips and reserved activities.

For more information see the press release and memo of the European Commission.

European Commission Annual Report on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

May 23rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The report – published on 18 May 2017 – outlines the initiatives taken in 2016 by the EU to strengthen fundamental rights in the EU. It also looks at how these rights were applied across a range of EU policies and in the Member States in 2016.

The accompanying Staff Working document states on ‘Article 14 — Right to education’ amongst others:

– Education policies are instrumental in addressing inequalities, fostering inclusion and tolerance, and promoting the common values of democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law.

– In June [2016], the Commission adopted a Communication on a “New Skills Agenda for Europe” which underlines the strategic importance of skills for sustaining jobs, growth and competitiveness. It covers areas such as skills development, mutual recognition of qualifications, support for vocational education and training and higher education, and ways of exploring the full potential of the digital economy, in order to promote lifelong investment in people. It inter alia also proposes a ‘skills guarantee’ to further combat exclusion and inequality.

– The preliminary outline of the European Pillar of Social Rights published in March 2016 proposes a principle regarding skills, education and lifelong learning focused on the access to quality education and training throughout the life course and on the encouragement of skills upgrading.

For more information:

Press release

2016 Report on the Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

Staff working document accompanying the Report

Interim Evaluation of the Justice Programme (2014-2020)

April 24th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The European Commission announced at the European Parliament workshop on 12 April 2017 that it will launch a public consultation in May to prepare a New Training Strategy. The aim is to find out more about particular needs of particular legal professionals. The Commission will also organise a conference in November which will bring together relevant stakeholders to consider ideas and strategies of all legal practitioners to feed into the New Training Strategy.

As part of this initiative, the European Commission has now published a roadmap which sets out in brief the way forward.

The roadmap indicates that the interim evaluation will cover the implementation period from 1 January 2014 until 30 June 2017, i.e. annual work programmes 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. The main issues that will be taken into account by the evaluation are: a. effectiveness, b. efficiency, c. relevance, d. coherence/complementarity, e. EU added value, f. equity and g. scope for simplification.

The consultation strategy shall consist of the following:

• An online 12-week public consultation to be published on the “Your Voice In Europe” website. The questionnaire will be drafted in 24 EU official languages, also with a possibility to provide written input in any of the 24 EU official languages. A summary of the open consultation outcome will be published in English.

• Targeted consultation through an online survey: all applicants and beneficiaries, if necessary complemented with a targeted consultation through phone interviews for a sample of randomly selected applicants and beneficiaries representing different target groups.

• Targeted consultation through a questionnaire sent by email: Programme Committee members.

Planned start: Q 1 2017; Planned completion: Q 2 2018.

The roadmap can be downloaded here.

European Parliament: Workshop on ‘The Training of Judges and Legal Practitioners’

March 21st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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The chair of the CCBE Training Committee, Pier Giovanni Traversa, will speak on this occasion on the training of lawyers.

The draft programme of the workshop is available here.

Obstacles to EU citizens’ freedom to move and work in the Internal Market

March 17th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

On 15 March 2017, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on ‘Obstacles to EU citizens’ freedom to move and work in the Internal Market’ (which can be downloaded here). Concerning professional qualifications and continuous professional development, it states that the Parliament:

17.  Is concerned about the difficulties encountered by petitioners in getting their professional qualifications recognised across Europe; calls for further standardisation of academic titles and continuous education diplomas by Member States, systemic use of the Internal Market Information System (IMI) to ensure better administrative cooperation and simpler and faster procedures for the recognition of professional qualifications and of continuous professional development requirements needed by qualified professionals planning to work in another Member State, avoiding any kind of discrimination, in line with the settled case-law of the Court of Justice, while respecting the requirements of the host country in full compliance with Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications;