The Tension between Rules Regulating the (Liberal) Professions and EC Competition Law - Reason and Passion in discussing professional regulation in EC competition law
PhD student: Mrs I.E.L.E. Wendt
Promotors: Mrs Prof H.E.G.S. Schneider, Prof W. Devroe
Duration: 1/9/2002 - 15/11/2006
PhD defence: Maastricht, 8/12/2009
The aim of the present research is, first, to give a systematic overview of the competition law requirements as applicable to professional regulations and, second, to scrutinise the various professional rules in a number of the EC Member States. The thesis scrutinises the impact of professional regulation on the level of competition in professional markets. It identifies the nature of the restriction of competition, the likely effects on trade between Member States as well as the aspect of economic costs and social benefits.
Different models of regulation exist within the Community. As regards liberal professions national legislators have a certain affinity to opt for self-regulation by the respective professional bodies. However, for different reasons of so-called public interest, legislators tend to strongly regulate liberal professions, sometimes even to an extent that one can wonder to which extend these professions can still be called ‘liberal’.
After having outlined the different national regulations, a comparative research on the effectiveness of regulation follows, i.e. whether one Member State better than another satisfies both the requirements under competition law and those of given policy goals. The research attempts to determine whether and which objectives of general interest exist to justify a regulatory intervention. Most of the time these are considerations of consumer protection and public interest; the latter may differ from country to country, but can be categorised as generally encompassing considerations of the ‘proper functioning’ of a certain profession. Where legitimate objectives of general interest exists, the thesis identifies the most efficient and least anti-competitive instruments needed in order to satisfy those objectives.