On 2 October the European Commission adopted a communication on evaluating national regulations on access to professions. First step is a transparency exercise: each Member State will have to report a list of all professions it regulates. The Commission will then publish this list in the form of a European map of regulated professions that will clearly display which professions are regulated and at which countries. In a second stage Member States will have to conduct over the next two years a mutual evaluation of the respective barriers they have in place limiting the access to certain professions. According to the Commission professional organisations shall be involved during this exercise. It is important for professional organisations to get in contact with the competent authorities on national level to ensure the involvement in this process.
The communication is accompanied by a commission staff working paper on the outcome of the peer review on legal form, shareholding and tariff requirements under the Services Directive.
This is a very important document as in it the Commission also explains which kind of regulation it sees as unacceptable. Tarriffs – for example - are generally seen as serious restriction to the establishment of service providers and as a hindrance to full competition. The Commission also questions to what extent tariffs can ensure a high quality of services.
The paper makes very clear that further action in view to deregulation in regard to a "better compliance" to the Services Directive is to be expected.
Another attack against professional regulations were the country-specific recommendations in view to the Europe 2020 Growth Strategy which were presented by the Commission at the end of May. For many member states the Commission recommends measures “to enhance competition” for regulated professions, which clearly spoken also means deregulation. The implementation of the recommendations on national level will be monitored closely by the Commission services. A formal assessment of each Member State’s performance will take place in May/June 2014, when the Commission presents next year’s country-specific recommendations and accompanying analysis.
The "urge for professional deregulation" has also reached the European Parliament. On 13 September it has adopted a report on the internal market for services. This report makes a very strong appeal to Commission and Member states to remove existing regulatory burdens for service providers. Among other things the report even says explicitly that the Members states are often using overriding reasons of public interest to protect and favour their domestic market. The Parliament also appeals to the Commission to apply a zero tolerance policy in order to ensure full compliance with the Services Directive. The report differs from former approaches of the European Parliament where the importance of the public interest was a focus point of importance.
As the European Commission is not fully aware of the functioning and specialities of liberal professions, of their impact on the safety and quality of life, their status as reliable employer even in times of crisis and as considerable factor of economic growth the ECEC will continue to work on increasing this knowledge.