Evaluation of National Regulations on Access to Professions – Real Estate in the Frame

On 2 October the European Commission published a Communication on evaluating national regulations on access to professions. This anticipates the coming into force of the revised Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications which foresees a mutual evaluation exercise in which EU Member States are to review their qualification requirements. The real estate sector is amongst the first cluster of professions to be screened and evaluated. This is a priority for CEPI which has been closely involved in the revision of the Directive and ongoing discussions concerning professional regulations and looks forward to taking an active part in the evaluation on behalf of the real estate sector.

The real estate sector is semi-regulated, with large differences between countries as to the nature and extent of regulation. CEPI has already started an in-depth study of regulation in the sector in difference European countries based on information received from its member associations which it intends to use to contribute to the discussions. What is already clear is the diversity of the sector both in terms of professional regulation and national housing market characteristics. Therefore CEPI is preparing its position as to how these should be taken into account.

The Communication now published sets out a framework intended to enable Member States to present a first set of national action plans by April 2015 based on in-depth, case-by-case analysis of the barriers to access a profession and of the possible alternative regulatory mechanisms. The first step is for each Member State to carry out an accurate mapping of all its regulated professions and then continue with a screening of the justification for each regulated profession at domestic level. These results must then be compared in an extensive mutual evaluation between all Member States as soon as possible.

The mutual evaluation will be grouped in sectors to take account of the economic context. The first cluster includes business services, construction, manufacturing, real estate, transport, wholesale and retail. The second cluster includes education, entertainment, health and social services, network services other than transport, public administration, tourism and other services/activities.

In March 2014 the Commission intends to publish a European Map of Regulated Professions based on the initial mapping exercise. Information will be incorporated into the Annual Single Market Integration Report which is due to be published as well as a more detailed first evaluation report and economic study in the second half of 2014. Member States should propose first measures aimed at reviewing the entry restrictions on certain professional activities in the national action plans to be presented by April 2015.

The national action plans should determine the most appropriate action for each regulated profession including the options to maintain or modify existing regulation, replace existing regulation with another system such as a voluntary certification system or repeal the existing regulation. Their conclusions should be articulated with national reform programmes to be delivered at the same time as part of the European Semester. They could also be considered in the context of the 2015 Country Specific Recommendations.

The aim of the exercise is to modernise the national frameworks which limit the access to professions, so encouraging greater mobility of professionals in the Single Market, helping to create new jobs, improving the competitiveness of the related sectors and creating growth opportunities. CEPI supports all these aims, but is also concerned by the importance of maintaining high quality services and protection for consumers. The Commission has stressed that the objective of the exercise is not solely to deregulate professional services but CEPI must continue to repeat that a balance must be found to ensure transparency, preserve standards and contribute to the stability of the real estate market which is an important element of the European economy.