Internal market for professionals: How to make it work?

On 26 October the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) of the European Parliament organized a hearing to consider how to improve the recognition of professional qualifications within the European Union. This hearing was part of the ongoing evaluation of the existing 2005 Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications, in which CEPI is participating. Both national parliaments and professional associations are involved in the evaluation process and the IMCO meeting was attended by MEPs and members of national parliaments. CEPI was present as well. 
A study was presented at the hearing focusing on challenges for four mobile professions: nurses, architects, civil engineers and tourist guides. Nurses and architects benefit from automatic recognition under the Directive, civil engineers and tourist guides, like property professional, fall within the general system established by the Directive in which applications have to be dealt with on a case by case basis.

The study identifies various common difficulties experienced in dealing with the Directive, both by the competent authorities established in different Member States and by professionals. Competent authorities face difficulties in identifying their counterparts in other Member States and in developing compensation measures in cases of differences in the level of qualification. There are particular problems for professionals in ensuring mutual recognition when their profession is not regulated in their home Member States. This applies to property professionals as estate agents and property managers are only regulated in certain countries. It is also evident that there are general problems in exercising the right to offer services on a temporary basis.

The study draws various conclusions including a recommendation to facilitate the development of professional cards. The development of such cards on a European basis could prove a useful means of facilitating the recognition of qualifications within the EU. The presentation of the study was followed by further reports on the recognition of qualifications and recommendations for the upcoming review of the Directive. There was also an interesting debate between MEPs and the members of national parliaments attending the hearing about common concerns. Issues which were mentioned include language requirements and the need to ensure that qualifications are genuine. It is clear from the presentations and the debate that there is a general level of support for the idea that a European professional card be developed. Such a card could address many of the concerns highlighted.

On Friday 29 October another meeting will take place which will also be attended by the CEPI Secretariat, this time between the European Commission and professional associations. The issue of a professional card will be on the agenda. CEPI supports the development of a European professional card and looks forward to hearing further about this very soon. We encourage the EU regulator to treat this as a priority issue which could facilitate the recognition of qualifications and prove of real value to property professionals and consumers. 

A separate and detailed report on the revision of the Directive on Recognition of Professional Qualifications will be prepared and issued to the CEPI member associations soon.