Professional services: How does regulation matter?

September 13th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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On 9 November 2017, the European Commission will organise a conference on ‘Professional services: How does regulation matter?’ (which will take place in Brussels).

Stakeholders (including national authorities, professional, and consumer organisations) will have the opportunity to discuss initiatives under the Services Package that are related to professional services, i.e. a legislative proposal for a proportionality test and a Communication on reform recommendations in regulated professions.

The conference programme can be downloaded. More details on the conference, including registration, can be obtained here.

For more information on the Services Package, please see the relevant posts on the Training Blog.

EP: ‘Implementation in Action’ briefing on the Professional Qualifications Directive

August 31st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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The briefing – which covers the history of EU regulation of professions, application of Article 59 of the Professional Qualifications Directive, and the restrictiveness indicator used by the European Commission – can be downloaded here.

Draft report by MEP Danti on the need for professional reforms

July 27th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Nicola DANTI - 8th Parliamentary term

Nicola DANTI – 8th Parliamentary term

Further to the workshop on 11 July 2017, MEP Nicola Danti has now published his draft report on ‘on the implementation of Directive 2005/36/EC as regards regulation and the need for reform in professional services’.

The draft report recognises the fundamental role played by regulated professions in the EU and the importance of quality services. It asks, amongst others, for better comparability of the level of professional qualifications.

Major points of the draft resolution include:

1. Stresses that regulated professions play a fundamental role in the EU economy, representing a significant part of the occupation rate as well as an important share of the added value in the Union; believes, furthermore, that the quality of professional services is of paramount importance for preserving the EU economic, social and cultural model;

3. Believes that the Commission communication of 10 January 2017 might help Member States to better regulate professional services; stresses, however, that elements beyond mere economic analysis are needed for a holistic assessment of the performance of the regulatory environment in each Member State;

8. Acknowledges that some Member States did not consult the relevant stakeholders in an appropriate manner while preparing the NAPs; calls for a broader involvement of all interested parties in the future;

11. Recognises the role of professional regulation in achieving a high level of protection of public interest objectives, such as the protection of consumers, (…) the safeguarding of the proper administration of justice, (…) acknowledges the margin of appreciation of Member States in determining the ways to achieve this;

12. Notes that profession-specific regulations pursuing objectives in the public interest aim to ensure effective supervision of the lawful practice of the regulated profession, and of its deontological rules where relevant;

13. Points out that better comparability of the level of professional qualifications is needed in order to increase the homogeneity of the evidence of formal qualifications across the European Union and to create a level playing field for young Europeans entering the professions, as well as promote their mobility;

17. Recalls that the analysis of the impact of the 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;

19. Welcomes the acknowledgement by the Commission of the need to reflect on the impact of new technologies on professional services, especially in the legal and accounting sectors; notes in particular that close attention needs to be paid to the consequent risks for service recipients, including consumers, of such a transformational change;

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