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'Disastrous' EU directive still in the draft stages

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Ed Dorrell's piece 'Disastrous EU directive kills off hopes for protection of function' (AJ 18.12.03) claims, in error, that there has been a 'new European Union ruling' that 'outlaws the establishment ofà a system which would allow only architects to design building'.

Firstly, there has been no EU ruling of any description with regard to the draft Directive on Professional Recognition of Qualifications. This proposed rationalisation of the sectoral directives governing certain professions, along with those currently governed by the 'general system' is, on the one hand, subject to the co-decision procedure (and will, therefore, req-uire agreement from both the European Parliament and the European Council) and, on the other hand, only recently had its first hearing.

Indeed, the meeting described in Dorrell's article appears to have been that of the JURI Committee (the legal affairs committee of the European Parliament, whose rapporteur was charged with the drafting of the new directive), which was held on 27 November. That meeting considered whether to support or reject some 400 amendments to the draft text - but of course was not empowered to produce a 'European Union ruling' on this matter - or any other.

While we understand that a first plenary hearing was scheduled for the draft directive on 15 December, there is a long way to go and it is not even clear whether the process will be completed during the life of the current European Parliament.

Architects have not sought to achieve protection of function through the new directive, though have received assurances that the contents of the current architects' directive will be enshrined in the text of the new directive without amendment, as part of the Acquis Communautaire.

It is true that the building surveyors, having failed to achieve their own directive, have lobbied to expand the scope of the architects' directive in order to include themselves, but this remains a matter for further debate.

John Wright, chair, European Affairs SubCommittee, RIBA

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