International policy

EU Procurement
EU Professional Qualifications
EU - Canada Trade

Review of EU Procurement Directives

EU Parliament

 EU Parliament

A 114-point consultation document has been received from the European Commission; responses are due by 18 April.

The RIBA is consulting on its response with other national bodies across Europe as well as the Architects Council of Europe procurement work group.

In the light of comments made to date, the RIBA is considering

• advocating the introduction of higher thresholds;
• arguing for better (less administratively burdensome) procedures;
• increasing the use of the negotiated procedure;
• establishing a cogent position on ‘previous experience’ (while this should not be a barrier to getting work first time around, there are those who believe that the private sector approach is more of a performance motivator because it rewards successful service suppliers with repeat orders. The private sector seems more success-seeking; while the public sector seems to be more ‘failure-avoiding’;
• addressing obstacles to the use of SMEs;
• ensuring that pre-qualification criteria are proportionate to the size/scope of a project, plus the introduction of self-certification;
• advocating local sourcing for environmental/cultural reasons in certain circumstances;
• promoting the use of Most Advantageous Tender (MAT), as the principal awarding criterion, rather than Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT);
• promoting consideration of whole-life cost/value

View a copy of the consultation.

If anyone would like to make their views known, please e-mail the RIBA’s International Relations Director, Ian Pritchard, at ian.pritchard@inst.riba.org 

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EU Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive

A 30-point questionnaire was received just before Christmas, to which the RIBA responded in time for the deadline of 15 March.

The Directive provides for the automatic mutual recognition of qualifications in the field of architecture. The Directive describes – at article 46.1, the key characteristics of architectural training and the Competent Authorities in the Member States have to confirm which educational establishments are able to deliver training that fulfils those criteria and the diplomas they issue are included in an annex to the Directive.

Key areas for comment included:

• compensation measures for applicants holding non-recognised diplomas (where Member States have chosen to impose Aptitude Tests – rather than have applicants undergo an adaptation periods, there is discussion as to whether such tests could/should be standardised across the EU; also where Member States have elected to impose adaptation periods, should these be designed to achieve specific outcomes rather than simply spending time in practice. Finally, are there any circumstances under which partial access could be granted to a limited range of professional activities?);

• student mobility (recognition of practical experience gained outside the home country);

• proposals to introduce a Professional Card or passport, at EU level;

• arrangements for the secure exchange of registration data between Competent Authorities (introduction of the EU’s Internal Market Information – IMI – system);

• consideration given to whether an 'alerts' mechanism should be introduced to allow Competent Authorities to notify each other of the removal of registrants on disciplinary grounds);

• questions about the possible introduction of an European curriculum;

• modernisation of article 46.1 (the 11 key characteristics of architectural training) to reflect changes in underpinning science and professional practice, as well as to allow for a more holistic and outcomes-based pedagogy and assessment. Here, along with ARB, we have argued for flexibility to reflect on-going and future modernisation of higher education (and steered clear of the 5 + 2 debate!)

The RIBA consulted widely with Architects Registration Board, SCHOSA and the United Kingdom Inter-professional Group (at UK level) as well as the Comité de Liaison des Professions Libérales (CEPLIS) and the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE) at EU level.

For further information please contact: Ian Pritchard at ian.pritchard@inst.riba.org 

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EU-Canada trade negotiations, ACE-CALA Mutual Recognition talks

Trade talks are underway between the European Union and Canada under the auspices of the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement (CETA). Canada is particularly keen to include, as part of the agreement, an ambitious proposal relating to services.

On 24/3, RIBA Director, International Relations, Ian Pritchard (who is also Chairman of the ACE Trade in Services work group), joined the Director of the Architects Council of Europe, Adrian Joyce, at a meeting with Christophe Ramès, Trade Negotiator, Services & Investment, at the EU’s Trade Directorate (D-G Trade) in order that ACE and the Commission might up-date each other on talks with their Canadian counterparts.

The Canadian Trade Representative had produced a proposal for a generic Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) which could be used for any professional mutual recognition talks. The generic text contained no surprises, being closely based on the “Guidelines for Mutual Recognition Agreements or arrangements in the Accountancy Sector” agreed and notified to the WTO’s Council for Trade in Services on 28 May 1997 – on which the ACE had also based its own generic MRA. So there will be no difficulty in adjusting the ACE draft to reflect even more closely that of the Canadian Trade Representative.

The Commission prefers a two-stage process including
• Framework – detailing purpose, scope, basic ingredients of the MRA;
• a set of Guidelines, for negotiation between the competent authorities (to be defined), which are meant to be indicative and non-binding

However, the Canadians appear to wish to ‘front load’ the agreement with more detailed provisions – though the Commission was concerned to avoid being ‘straight-jacketed’ into accepting rigid or unrealistic provisions.

Our discussion, with the Commission, focused mainly on how to make the agreement binding under international law, and how to avoid the inclusion of too much detail in the MRA. We suggested that one way to avoid this would be to make provision for some sort of Joint Oversight Committee – at professional level – to deal with issues relating to the notification of new or changing diplomas, administrative procedures for exchange of data etc.

We also exchange background information on the composition and status of ACE and its Canadian interlocutors, the Canadian Architectural Licensing Authority (CALA), to explain how mutual recognition in the field of architectural services works in both jurisdictions and how the profession is governed in the EU (various models) and Canada (single model).

We identified the need for some sort of compensatory mechanism (given there will be differences in the scope of training – and scope of services provided by professionals). It was noted that the mechanism could be expressed either in terms of

• a number of years of additional post-license experience – or

• provision of a temporary license, to be supplemented by a requirement to undertake a prescribed number of hours of study in order to develop a knowledge of local building laws. 

Finally, it was stressed that while the identified Parties are empowered to negotiate, they cannot themselves bind their members. Each EU Competent Authority, and each Canadian Provincial licensing body, would need to subsequently ratify any agreement. That said, if the negotiating parties have consulted properly during the talks, ratification ought to be a formality.

Next steps: ACE agreed to produce a revised draft agreement by mid-March for consideration by the Commission during the second half of March, following this ACE would issue to CALA, for the next round of talks and the Commission would share with the Canadian Trade Representative at the next round of EU-Canada talks in mid-April.

Meanwhile, the Quebec Government Office in Brussels, the European Services Forum and the Architects Council of Europe are holding a seminar on mutual recognition of professional qualifications between Canada and the European Union, in Brussels on 20 March.

For further information contact RIBA International Director, Ian Pritchard at: Ian.pritchard@inst.riba.org.