Our role in Europe

Our-role-in-EuropeARB’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

After conducting a lengthy review process, the European Commission formally published the revisions to the Professional Qualifications Directive in January 2014. The Commission gave Member States 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 had to ensure that its legislation was updated in accordance with the Directive by mid-January 2016. This process commenced in 2014 and continued 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 2015, we continued to work closely with key organisations such as the European Commission, relevant UK Government departments and our European counterparts, to ensure that we would 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 (DCLG) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), 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 47 new notifications from eight member states during 2015 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. Overall, with the inclusion of the notifications received at the end of 2014, we reviewed 67 notifications during 2015. 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 2014, 34 notifications from five Member States were issued for consideration and review; and in 2013, 14 notifications from five Member States were issued for consultation and review.

The revised notification process put in place by the European Commission in late November 2014 has now been operating for over a year and it has streamlined and improved the efficiency of the notifications process. Organisations involved in the review of notifications across Europe are now able to communicate directly through the Internal Market Information (IMI) system allowing comments and queries to be addressed in a transparent way and consensus to be achieved more efficiently. We continue to anticipate a high number of notifications during 2016 as Member States seek to bring their entries under Annex V up to date and re-notify qualifications to ensure continued compliance with the revised requirements of the Qualifications Directive.

We notified nine UK title changes and one change of awarding body during 2015. These notifications were processed within one month of broadcast to the Commission. We also notified one new Part 2 qualification to the Commission and for consultation with Member States. This consultation will end in mid-2016.

In addition, in 2015 we continued to work with Government to ensure that the revised Directive was properly implemented, and regularly provided advice to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Throughout 2015 we worked closely with other Member States’ competent authorities for architects and organisations involved in the review of notifications, through the European Network Architect Competent Authorities (ENACA), to develop guidance on best practice for notifications. It is anticipated that this will be completed in 2016 and will continue to enhance the understanding of regulation systems that apply to architects in each Member State.