The Morgenbesser case

CCBE: an explanation of the Morgenbesser case

Chronology (I), Analysis (II) and guidance (III) to Bars and Law Societies regarding Case C-313/01 Christine Morgenbesser v Consiglio dell’Ordine degli avvocati di Genova, 5th Chamber (13 November 2003)

Official Report of the case at  [2003] ECR I-13467


Remunerated Traineeships European-style

The proposed Directive revising Dir 2005/36/EC introduces the notion of  a ‘remunerated traineeship’ (recital 20 of the proposal; Article 1 and Article 3(ii)j and Article 55a). What is a remunerated traineeship and why is it introduced?

Examining the definition of remunerated traineeship

An initial difficult aspect of the ‘remunerated traineeship’ is the definition in proposed Article 3(ii)j which states:

“(j) ‘remunerated traineeship’: the pursuit of supervised and remunerated activities, with a view to access to a regulated profession granted on the basis of an examination;  (my emphasis)

This last phrase (granted on the basis of an examination) seems unnecessary and could, on one reading, exclude, for example, the English and Welsh traineeships as there is no formal “examination” after the traineeship. It is not clear why the phrase is included; the important element is the ‘with a view to access to a regulated profession’. If the phrase cannot be deleted for some reason then “evaluation” or “assessment” would be better words to use rather than examination as this would cover most lawyerly traineeships. The French version seems to make clear than an exam is meant:

«j) «stage rémunéré»: l’exercice d’activités rémunérées et encadrées, dans la perspective d’accéder à une profession réglementée à la suite d’un examen »

The notion of remuneration

The new draft amendment talks of ‘remunerated’ traineeships ; I think that the qualifier ‘remunerated’ may be considered necessary to maintain the link with the legal base of the proposed Directive. Trainee lawyers who are remunerated are considered to be workers (Kranemann). The EU has competence regarding paid workers and remunerated service providers without doubt. If there are Bars and Law Societies where trainees are not paid (which I think might be the case in many European countries e.g.  Portugal, Italy  the UK (Bar) and Ireland (Bar), why should their trainees be left out from the protection of  the Directive (apart from the legal base argument above)? Perhaps the legal base could be extended?

The rights of the remunerated trainee

The proposed Article granting rights regarding remunerated traineeships is a new Article 55a which reads as follows:

Article 55a  Recognition of remunerated traineeship

With a view to grant (sic) access to a regulated profession, the home Member State shall recognise the remunerated traineeship pursued in another Member State and certified by a competent authority of that Member State.

It now becomes clearer why an examination is included in the definition of ‘remunerated traineeship’. This proposed Article goes beyond Morgenbesser. It seems to lay out a duty to recognise any traineeship certified by a competent authority of another Member State. There is no provision allowing for an ‘assessment of comparability’ nor any possibility of ‘compensation’ mooted. So, for example, someone with an LLB (English qualifying law degree) could in principle undertake a traineeship in, say, Portugal, and this would have to be ‘recognised’ by the English Competent Authorities (CA) with no possibility of assessing the content of such a traineeship to ensure that home State requirements are fulfilled. Perhaps though the phrase ‘[W]ith a view to grant (sic) access’ allows for an interpretation that permits a CA discretion in accepting or not the remunerated traineeship as completely fulfilling the national traineeship conditions vis a vis the experience element represented by the stage / traineeship?

Article 55a, as I interpret it initially, in my view, goes beyond what the EU can do. It is for the MS to set justifiable standards and requirements for their professions, and these must be fulfilled (though sometimes by different means) by migrants, assisted in this case by the PQD.  I would argue for a modification of this provision to allow that such a migrant could still be evaluated as per Article 13 mutatis mutandis (though a new article would be necessary or perhaps a paragraph 2 to the new Article 55a) and subject to compensation measures (similar to Article 14 mutatis mutandis) if necessary. This would make more sense and would fit in with the new purpose of the Directive – permitted movement of ‘fully and semi-qualified’ professional migrants. AAAH, but there’s the rub, I think the European Commission may be seeking to stay true to the Directive’s original intent – to allow fully qualified EU citizens to move more freely – the so-called “finished products”.

What about those who are semi-qualified?

In my view Article 55a is not a proper implementation of the Morgenbesser / Pesla principle. This is another problem with the proposed alteration to Directive 2005/36/EC.  An implementation of Morgenbesser / Pesla would impose an obligation on the host State to assess and evaluate migrants with law-related degrees from higher education institutions and oblige the Competent Authorities to specify to them elements that are missing from their knowledge and competence, in order to allow them to complete their (legal) training in the host State, and then, in due course, join the host State relevant profession. Instead what we get is an obligation on the home State to recognise ‘remunerated traineeships’. Under the proposed Directive (as amended) a Morgenbesser applicant would not gain the benefit of the (valuable) procedural safeguards of the Directive. I think the Directive should include such a protection.

So there seems to be some work to be done on the notion of ‘remunerated traineeship’ in  the proposed Directive.

Modernising the Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/EC

On 19th December 2011 the European Commission published its proposal for amending Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications. The Single Market Act included such a revision as ‘Lever 2 – Citizen’s mobility’. This blog will comment on the proposal and reactions to it as it passes through the legislative process.

Negotiations on the proposed Directive started last Wednesday (25 January 2012) and have begun with generic aspects of the proposed Directive. The European Commission would like the measure adopted by the end of 2012.

The proposal is entitled Proposal for a DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL amending Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications and Regulation on administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System and is available on Eur-Lex as an html, PDF or doc.

European Commission DG Markt Directorate E – SERVICES, Unit E4 deals with the free movement of professionals. Their website is very helpful and carries a lot of useful information. In the European Parliament, IMCO (Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection) will be dealing with it. The European Commission presented its proposal and the Impact Assessment to the IMCO Members on the 9th January. The first exchange of views in the Committee are expected on the 28th February.

Precursors to the proposal to revise Directive 2005/36/EC can be found here.

More posts will follow.

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