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Brittan calls for single market for professions

25 January 2011

The EU should adopt a “ruthless” stance in pushing through measures to create a single European market for professional services, David Cameron’s trade adviser has urged in a speech to the Business for New Europe forum.

Lord Brittan said a 2005 EU directive, calling for mutual recognition of professional qualifications across the Union, had been hamstrung by individual member states’ requirements.

“Many other entry barriers remain,” he said, “such as fixed tariffs, complex shareholding requirements, onerous capital requirements, and restrictions on the legal form a company should take. To give a couple of examples, Malta, Germany, Greece and Bulgaria still impose fixed tariffs on architects. To offer recruitment services in Italy, an employment agency must have four branches and hold minimum capital of 600,000 euro, which serves as a barrier to entry for other service providers with different business models.”

Claiming the EU business services sector is 40% less efficient than that of the US, Lord Brittan hit out at “restrictive practices” in “important economic areas”.

He said: "We should ask whether Europe should continue to regulate around 4,600 professions across the single market or whether more could be done to remove barriers to the cross-border provision of professional and business services to create a more integrated single market."

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