Single Market: Commission welcomes agreement on professional services

The Commission welcomes the preliminary political agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on a “proportionality test” to guide Member States in regulating professional services. 

The Commission tabled the proposal in January 2017 among other measures to give the EU services economy a fresh boost, and the agreement comes shortly after the joint statement by the European Parliament, Commission and Council presidency on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Single Market. Around 50 million people – 22% of the European labour force – work in professions to which access is conditional upon the possession of specific qualifications or for which the use of a specific title is protected, e.g. engineers, lawyers or architects. Regulation can be warranted for a number of professions, for example those linked with health and safety. But there are many cases where unnecessarily burdensome and outdated rules make it unreasonably difficult for qualified candidates to access these jobs. This is also to the detriment of consumers. Under EU law, a Member State needs to establish whether new national professional requirements are necessary and balanced. The Commission proposal does not change existing law but aims to ensure a coherent and consistent approach by streamlining and clarifying how Member States should ensure that national rules on professional services are necessary and balanced. The tentative agreement reached in so-called trilogue negotiations is still subject to formal adoption.