Our Position

Proportionality tests for regulated professions

Position adopted by Eurocadres Executive Committee 4 May 2017

The Commission has in its service package published in January 2017 proposed proportionality tests[1] before adoption of new or changing regulation of regulated professions.

The free movement of people within an open labour market is a corner stone of the European Union. Especially labour mobility of high-qualified professionals and managers, makes a vital contribution to a knowledge-based European economy and society that is consequently, enhancing Europe’s competitiveness.

Eurocadres overall welcomes the directive proposal. We agree with the notion that inappropriate regulation can create a burden on the professional and put up obstacles for mobility. Regulation of professions shall be objectively justified on the basis of public policy, public security or public health, or by overriding reasons in the public interest. In some cases, to regulate a profession is necessary (for instance doctors) in view of safeguarding patients, consumers etc. This right to regulate, if necessary, remains and the directive on the proportionality test will not do away with it.

In particular, the draft proposal mentioned potential job-creation effect by addressing disproportionate and unnecessary regulation is interesting (assessed to 700.000 jobs). However, it is difficult to separate the effects of one specific directive from the general development of economy and labour market. Eurocadres believes that the positive effects of this directive are more visible at the micro-individual level (than at the macroeconomic level). Citizens have less impediments to move and to take advantage of the European labour market.

As the assessments are to be conducted when adopting regulation for new regulated professions as well as amending regulation of existing regulated professions, our concern is that it could become a driver against necessary modernisation of regulation. As periodic guidance will be issued on specific needs, identifying countries and professions where reform would be beneficial. This soft law instrument on periodic guidance would be an important complement to the directive to reduce this potential counter-modernisation effect. There is a need to clarify that, when amending existing regulation, not only the change should meet the assessment criteria but instead the overall regulation. 

Social partners must have an important role in the regulation of professions and should be explicitly mentioned in article 7. As only in some member states professional associations at the same time are social partners it is important to also recognise professional associations as stakeholders where they are not one and the same.

[1] COM/2016/0822 final - 2016/0404 (COD). http://ec.europa.eu/DocsRoom/documents/20504