Our role in Europe
ARB’s competent authority role
One of ARB’s key responsibilities is undertaking the role of the UK’s competent authority for architects. This means that we implement and facilitate European legislation which provides freedom of movement for appropriately qualified architects to enable them to work in different parts of Europe.
As well as the Architects Act 1997, one of the key pieces of legislation which sets out our responsibilities in this area is the Professional Qualifications Directive [2005/36/EC]. This Directive sets out the conditions which an individual must meet in order to successfully and easily move across European borders and register as an architect in another European member state. This is carried out through a process of mutual recognition of qualifications in architecture. We are therefore responsible for notifying ARB-recognised qualifications to the European Commission for listing and inclusion under Annex V of the Directive so that individuals who meet the relevant requirements for registration in the UK can benefit from the automatic recognition of their qualifications in other member states. We are also responsible for reviewing and commenting on the compliance of qualifications notified by other member states for listing under the Directive.
The Revised Professional Qualifications Directive
Over the last two years we have reported on the process which the European Commission undertook to review and revise the Professional Qualifications Directive (PQD). After a lengthy review process, which ARB along with relevant UK government departments and key stakeholders actively engaged, the Commission formally published the revisions to the Directive in January 2014. Member states were given two years within which to adopt the revisions and transpose them into their own national legislation. The UK, along with all other European member states therefore has to ensure that its legislation is updated in accordance with the Directive by January 2016. This process commenced in 2014 and will continue throughout 2015.
The revised Directive includes the following changes which are relevant to architects and our work:
- The minimum requirements for the automatic recognition of qualifications have been adjusted and increased;
- The process for notifying qualifications in architecture for listing under Annex V of the Directive has been revised and streamlined; and
- Adjustments have been made to enhance and streamline the processes for moving and registering in other European member states.
Throughout 2014, we have worked closely with key organisations such as the European Commission, relevant UK government departments and our European counterparts, to ensure that we will meet the transposition deadline, and interpret and apply the revised Directive appropriately.
Interacting with UK government departments
After working closely with relevant Government departments, i.e., the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, to bring the UK’s entry under Annex V of the Directive into line with other member states’ entries, we continue to ensure that the UK’s listing under Annex V of the Directive remains up to date. This includes the timely notification of any award and institutional title changes, as well as any new qualifications we recognise.
Notifications of qualifications
We received 34 notifications from five member states during 2014 for consideration and review. We have actively engaged in the review of all of these notifications and raised queries in relation to their compliance with the minimum requirements set out in the Qualifications Directive where appropriate. Member states are required to provide comments and raise queries in relation to each notification within two months of it being opened for consultation. We met this deadline in all cases.
By way of a comparison, during 2012, 27 notifications from seven member states were issued for consideration and review; and in 2013, 14 notifications from five member states were issued for consultation and review.
The European Commission temporarily suspended the notification process between January and early November 2014 whilst changes were being made to it as a result of revisions to the Qualifications Directive. The revised notification process was put in place in late November 2014 and since then the number of notifications has risen significantly. The majority of the 34 notifications referred to above were notified as soon as the updated process came on stream. We anticipate a high number of notifications during 2015 as member states seek to bring their entries under Annex V up to date.
Given the suspension of the notification process for the majority of 2014, we did not notify any UK title changes or new qualifications during this period. These will be notified under the revised process during 2015.
In addition to this work, we also assisted government with the UK’s response to a European Commission exercise which is seeking to map out regulatory frameworks and processes across the European Union. We provided information about the way in which the profession is regulated within the UK as well as details relating to our registration requirements in the form of a report, and by updating the UK’s entry under the European Regulated Professions Database. The Commission is expected to continue this exercise into 2015.