Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Consultation on the regulation of professions: Member States' National Action Plans and proportionality in regulation

Consultation on the regulation of professions: Member States' National Action Plans and proportionality in regulation
Published on: 27/05/2016 Last update: 19/09/2017
Deadline: 21/08/2016
On 27 May 2016 the European Commission published a public consultation on the regulation of professions. This consultation ran for a 12-week period until 21 August 2016.


The results of this consultation have been published as part of the impact assessment made to support the Commission's proposal of 10 January 2017 that proportionality tests take place before rules on professional services can be adopted.

In particular see 'Annex 2: Stakeholder consultation' of the impact assessment. 

A synopsis of the results and the responses given to the consultation are all now available.

The consultation

Over the past 2 years, EU countries have been undergoing a 'mutual evaluation' to screen their regulatory arrangements for professions and ensure that they are 'proportionate' to legitimate public interest objectives, without creating unnecessary burdens. They then had to produce National Action Plans (NAPs) outlining any changes they proposed to make to ensure that their regulation is as effective as possible, for both professionals and consumers. The consultation invited participants to share their views on these National Action Plans. Specifically:

  1. On the specific changes proposed by Member States
  2. On any other changes that should be made but which were not proposed by the Member State
  3. Views on if the Member State conducted a sufficiently robust review of their regulations and their effects in order to reach their conclusions when preparing their NAP

In addition to this, in October 2015 the European Commission adopted a Single Market Strategy for goods and services where actions to develop the Single Market for services, including improving the regulation of professional services, were set out. One of the initiatives announced was the introduction of an analytical framework for use by EU countries when reviewing regulation to ensure that measures are proportionate and best suited to the risks they seek to guard against, but without placing unnecessary burdens upon professionals.

Following the responses to the NAPs further questions were asked regarding this initiative. Specifically:

  1. Views on the value of implementing such an analysis when regulating
  2. What value possible criteria could bring in conducting this analysis
  3. What impact such a methodology could ultimately have on the regulatory framework

For this second part, according to the identify of the respondent, they were taken to 1 of 2 consultations: either one designed specifically for those stakeholders who deal with the regulation of professions (falling under the category of public authorities) or one for all other respondents.

This consultation was open for a 12-week period from 27 May to 21 August 2016.

The questionnaire that was used is available in all languages.

Background information

Professions across the EU, from doctors to geologists and hairdressers to tour guides, which together represent 22%[1] of the workforce, are subject to almost 6,000 different regulations. As a result, 47 million people need some kind of authorisation, often on top of their education, to be able to do their job. Recent studies estimate that across the EU up to 700,000 [2] more jobs could be created through regulatory improvements, so this work is important and we thank you for taking the time to respond to our questions.

This was a public consultation and all parties were invited to share their experiences, in full confidentiality if they wished (see privacy statement below).

The results have been used for:

  • a report to the European Parliament and the Council
  • country and profession specific guidance for reform
  • an analytical framework proposing a more inclusive approach to proportionality assessment

This consultation took place in accordance with the general framework related to the protection of personal data.

More information

COM(2016) 822 - Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on a proportionality test before adoption of new regulation of professions (in all languages, but for English refer to this version which corrects hyperlinks on certain pages).

SWD(2016) 463 - Impact Assessment accompanying the proposal

SWD(2016) 462 - Executive summary of the impact assessment

Press release: A services economy that works for Europeans

National Action Plans

Mutual evaluation of regulated professions

Full list of professions regulated across the EU

Map of regulated professions by EU country


[1] Koumenta M., Pagliero M. (2016, publication forthcoming), 'Measuring Prevalence and Labour Market Impacts of Occupational Regulation in the EU'

[2] ibid