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Draft EU directive could kill UK protection of title

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A new directive proposed by the European Union poses a threat to British architects' protection of title. The RIBA fears that changes to EU law - currently under debate in the European Parliament - could see technologists and engineers flooding into architecture. Eventually the move could lead to an end to registration and the demise of the ARB, it has warned.

Plans to abolish the Architects Directive - which protects the title of architect in EU law - and replace it with a new catch-all document covering all the major professions, could see a dilution of requirements governing the use of the title architect.

The current rules prescribing standards in education are set to be relegated to a mere annex in the new document, which would leave them open to reform at any time.

The RIBA's vice-president for international relations, John Wright, fears that if the rules over qualification are not in the main body of the new directive, they could be constantly revised and diluted. This, he said, represents a major threat to the protection of title.

'European Union civil servants could change these rules, ' Wright stressed. 'And I suspect there will be a gradual diminution of their quality. If this document becomes law with the prescription rules in the annex, then there is a serious danger that civil servants will make changes that will allow others to practise as architects, 'Wright said.

'You will see technologists and engineers working in our profession. The government would be forced to deregulate as a result, and we would see the end of the ARB, ' he added.

The Architects' Council of Europe's (ACE) response to the draft directive, sent to the Council of Ministers, attacks the proposed changes. It says that 'it does not allow for adequate quality of education and training'. It continues: 'The current proposal would significantly undermine the cross-border provision of architectural services and would have a negative impact on consumer protection.'

ACE is now actively campaigning to see radical changes to the draft directive. It successfully persuaded the EU to issue a reformed document last month but was 'highly disappointed' as little was changed. So it has now produced its own version of the document - called the Third Way - that it says will protect the title of architect, and is lobbying for its adoption instead of the current draft.

The RIBA has written to both EU commissioners and all of the UK's Members of the European Parliament to demand that they lobby on behalf of the Third Way.

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