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Transparency and mutual evaluation of regulated professions

Transparency and mutual evaluation of regulated professions

EU countries asked for clarification of the status of regulated professions in the EU. At their request, the European Commission agreed to conduct a transparency exercise and a mutual evaluation exercise. The aim is to provide a comprehensive overview of regulated professions in the EU. 

What are regulated professions?

  • Limited access: To perform regulated professions, workers have to obtain specific qualifications or a specific title.
  • Requirements vary: Different requirements across the EU may make it difficult for qualified professionals to apply for vacancies in other EU countries.
  • Lack of information: It is often difficult to get information on what conditions these professionals have to comply with to apply for a job in another country.

Transparency and mutual evaluation exercise

To have a comprehensive overview of regulated professions in the EU and conditions to access these professions, EU countries agreed to conduct a transparency and mutual evaluation exercise between 2014 and 2016:

  • Transparency exercise - each EU country has to report the list of professions it regulates, including those at regional level.
  • Mutual evaluation exercise - conditions to access professions can vary significantly between EU countries. The reasons behind those differences are often not well understood and certain requirements may no longer be necessary. The process invites EU countries to conduct a mutual evaluation of the respective barriers they have in place limiting access to certain professions.

The main objectives of the transparency and mutual evaluation are:

  • simplification and improvement of citizens' access to information on regulated professions
  • commitment of EU countries to review the requirements they impose with regards to access to and pursuit of regulated professions.

Transparency exercise

To enhance transparency for EU citizens, the Commission set up a database that allows citizens to learn more about professional access requirements across the EU. In the context of this exercise, the list of regulated professions was updated and new information was added. An interactive map was also created where citizens can easily visualise which professions are regulated by country, and the distribution of regulated professions by economic sector. 

Organisation of the mutual evaluation

The Commission launched the process of the mutual evaluation, setting out a method to take this work forward and a timetable for delivering it in the 2013 Communication, 'Evaluating national regulations on access to professions'.

To complete the mutual evaluation by Spring 2016, the regulated professions were grouped into two clusters:

  • cluster 1 - professions in construction, wholesale and retail, business services, manufacturing, transport, and real estate;
  • cluster 2 - health and social services, education, tourism, public administration, entertainment, network services and other services/activities.

For each cluster, 6 professions were chosen as examples of different regulatory approaches for discussion.

  • for cluster 1, the discussed professions are driving instructor, real estate agent, optician, electrician, civil engineer and architect;
  • for cluster 2, the discussed professions are physiotherapist, psychologist, hairdresser/aesthetician, dental hygienist, sports instructor and tourist guide/ travel agent.

Sector reports

Reports are published after a consultation process with all countries. The following reports are available:

National action plans

Part of the legal obligations to be fulfilled by EU countries when putting into force the revised Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/EC, is the submission of reports presenting the outcome of their proportionality assessment of the regulation of professions, and the identification of any need for reform. The deadline for complying with this requirement was 18 January 2016.

These reports, or national action plans (NAPs) as they were called in the Communication, ‘Evaluating national regulations on access to professions’ are now available for a majority of EU countries. The list of national action plans will be updated whenever the Commission receives a new report.

Stakeholders can react to these reports by taking part in the public consultation, ‘Regulation of professions: proportionality and National Action Plans’ till 20 August 2016.

On the 18 May 2016, a conference took place in Brussels where participants could discuss these action plans and interact with experts on the economic impacts of reforms in regulated professions.

Communication on the evaluation of regulated professions

On 2 October 2013, the Commission adopted the Communication on evaluating national regulations on access to professions. It presents a work plan for the mapping and mutual evaluation of regulated professions foreseen in the revised Professional Qualifications Directive. The Communication released, together with a Staff Working Document on the outcome of the peer review on legal form, shareholding and tariff requirements under the Services Directive.

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