Today, the European Commission has published a Services Package which is aimed at making “it easier for companies and professionals to provide services to a potential customer base of 500 million people in the EU”.
Amongst others, the package contains a Communication which provides “Guidance for national reforms in regulation of professions”.
The section on lawyers contains, inter alia, information on the training of lawyers and some recommendations:
“In view of their particular role, the rules on the access to and the pursuit of the legal profession are among the most stringent in the business services sector. In terms of qualification, higher education is required in the large majority of Member States (a law degree being compulsory), followed by a mandatory traineeship and/or additional professional experience and bar examination. The total duration of the training varies between 3 years (Ireland) and 9 years (Slovenia). It appears, however, that in some Member States (Greece, Italy), training and experience obtained abroad are not duly taken into account when allowing access to legal traineeships for lawyers. Recently, Spain introduced new rules on the qualification of lawyers, but clarity is lacking regarding the registration of graduates who started their studies before the reform entered into force.
Mandatory continuous professional development is provided for in most Member States, except for the Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain where it is voluntary. Despite the extensive case-law on recognition of qualifications, mutual recognition of lawyers’ cross-border continuing professional development appears to be problematic, especially for lawyers wishing to benefit from the rights granted to them under the two Lawyers’ Directives.”
In the Recommendations part, the Commission specifically refers to Greece and Italy:
“Greece and Italy should ensure that training and experience obtained abroad are duly taken into account so that lawyers can access legal traineeships in line with Case C-313/01.”
The European Commission is also proposing to streamline and clarify how Member States should undertake a comprehensive and transparent proportionality test before adopting or amending national rules on professional services. According to the proposals, the competent authorities shall consider in particular: (…) the link between the complexity of the tasks and the necessary possession of specific professional qualifications, in particular as regards the level, the nature and the duration of the training or experience required, as well as the existence of different routes to obtain the professional qualification; (…).
For more information, see:
Commission Press Release of 10/01/2017
Commission Communication on reform recommendations for regulation in professional services
Staff Working Document accompanying the Communication