What is the relevance of EU legislation for the real estate professions?

European regulation for the real estate professions has long been an objective of and desired outputfor lobbying efforts in Brussels, such as applies already for example to lawyers, medical professions and architects. Nevertheless, it has repeatedly been made evident that this as such is not a realistic scenario. Real estate is a matter of national competence and the EU does not intend to take direct action in respect of it. Notwithstanding this matter of principle, it is our experience that the EU does in fact take a direct and increasing interest in property related matters. How?

One the one hand, the need to reinforce the European Single Market imposes the need for action to remove remaining barriers between Member States; professional regulations at national level are in part perceived to represent such barriers and many professions including the real estate ones are therefore faced with a trend to deregulate. On the other hand, as the current financial and debt crisis call for urgent and proactive action to strengthen the European economic area, heads of governments of the EU Member States are being called on to give more room for manoeuvre to the European legislator and executive to impose more common economic and financial rules.

The Directive on credit agreements relating to residential properties as well as the Capital Requirements Directive are both likely to affect the supply of mortgage credit and so national property markets. The Services Directive is all about mobility and is intended to pave the way to easier service provision abroad. The revision of the Directive on Professional Qualifications aims at supporting mobility by providing more transparent and accelerated procedures to give recognition to professional qualifications which may vary between countries. The European Council recently issued country-specific recommendations to all EU Member States on their economic and fiscal policies including some national housing markets, so applying economic surveillance and imposing “stabilisers” to keep national economies within specific limits. Economic governance and financial control are amongst the ways in which the EU is imposing rules to strengthen a Single European Market, with a direct and indirect impact on real estate professions and professionals, as well as certain specific legislative proposals.

These and other decisions to encourage people and professionals to access the different markets within the European area evidently impact real estate professionals. For example, the great potential for energy saving in the use of buildings makes it inevitable that the revised Energy Performance of Buildings and Energy Efficiency Directives touch on the real estate sector and represent a most important challenge for the property managers in particular.

As a matter of fact, access to and the exercise of some professions such as the real estate ones tend to be increasingly affected by different EU measures. Think of environmental, consumer related and financial obligations, representing a rosary of points and obligations real estate professionals have to comply with. These EU measures become challenging for a specific profession when they can be linked and even clustered. Such is the case at present for a number of policy dossiers of direct interest to CEPI.

In a short article, focusing on the European competence profile, CEPI demonstrates and makes explicit how policy dossiers need to be looked at together, as they impact on each other and together contribute to the formation of a European frame for the provision of services by and the mobility of real estate professionals in Europe.