Mon. Dec 5th, 2022
Brussels, 29 September 2022

Today, the Commission decided to refer Belgium to the Court of Justice of the European Union, with a proposal to impose financial sanctions, over the failure to transpose the Directive on a proportionality test for assessing new regulations of professions before their adoption (Directive 2018/958/EU) (INFR(2020)0385). The legislation requires Member States, and their regions and communities with a competence in this area, to make sure that any new requirements for professions are necessary and balanced, and therefore avoid creating disproportionate barriers in the Single Market.

The Directive on the proportionality test is a powerful tool for facilitating access to and exercise of regulated activities by professionals across the EU. Regulated professions represent about 22% of the European labour force, with about 50 million people employed in such professions. However, access to such professions can be restricted to those holding specific qualifications or hold a specific protected title, like lawyers or pharmacists. In addition, there are often requirements on how such professions can be practiced, such as who can hold company shares or how these services can be advertised.

Member States had to transpose this Directive and communicate the national transposition measures to the Commission by 30 July 2020. In the absence of adoption of the relevant national rules, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Belgium in October 2020, followed by a reasoned opinion on 12 November 2021. To date, Belgium has failed to fully transpose and communicate the measures implementing the Directive.

With today’s referral to the Court of Justice, the Commission aims to ensure the proper implementation of the Directive to help prevent and dismantle disproportionate barriers in the Single Market, in line with the objectives of the Single Market Enforcement Action Plan. Making sure that national rules on professions are justified and proportionate is essential to facilitate professionals from across the EU to access these professions, while also creating benefits for consumers and citizens who use their services.   In particular, it can help to prevent excessive prices, support the development of innovative services and expand access to important services for consumers.

Background

The Directive on a proportionality test was adopted on 28 June 2018 as one of the four initiatives of the 2017 Services Package. The deadline for Member States to implement the new rules was 30 July 2020.

The Directive requires Member States to assess the proportionality of any new regulation of professions on the basis of a common set of criteria, before the adoption of that regulation. In addition, the Directive contributes to the transparency of the rule-making process by requiring these assessments to be made publicly available via the database of regulated professions. It asks Member States to appropriately inform and involve all relevant stakeholders during the proportionality assessment. Furthermore, Member States need to continue monitoring the proportionality of their rules after adoption and take into account any relevant developments such as technological innovation.

For More Information

Proportionality test for new regulation of professions

Infringements database

EU infringements procedure

Link to September 2022 infringements package

Source – EU Commission

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