segunda-feira, fevereiro 16, 2004
Commission calls for abolition of unjustified restrictions of competition in professional services
Extensive research by the European Commission into the state of competition among lawyers, notaries, accountants, architects, engineers and pharmacists concludes that existence of price, advertisement and other restrictions is preventing the delivery of benefits to the economy and consumers in particular.
Because those restrictions are mainly national in scope, a report adopted by the Commission today calls on national governments, competition authorities and the professional bodies themselves to reform or eliminate such restriction unless duly justified.
Italy and Germany continue to have minimum prices for architects, engineers and lawyers combined, in some cases, with maximum prices. The experience in countries which have abolished price regulations -- France, concerning legal services, and UK for what regards conveyance and architectural services indicates that price controls are not an essential instrument for ensuring high quality standards.
A number of countries also continue to prohibit professions from advertising their services making it more difficult and expensive for consumers to search for the quality and prices that best meet their needs. This is the case for auditors (France, Luxembourg, Spain and Portugal) or notaries (France, Italy, Spain and Greece) while the same and other professions are also under significant advertising restrictions in other countries.
Other, less visible restrictions regard access to the professions themselves by way of excessive licensing regulations or restrictions based on demographic and geographic criteria, for example for pharmacists and notaries in certain countries.
Restrictive regulation protects consumers, it is sometimes argued by some professions. The Commission fears that the only clear effect is to protect the professions themselves from the healthy winds of competition and intends to explore with consumer organisations alternative ways of helping consumers find the service they want and judge its quality.
The Commission acknowledges that regulation may be necessary, for example to prevent misleading publicity, poorly constructed buildings or inaccurate audit reporting. But restrictions must be considered carefully to assess whether those legitimate public interests may not be achieved through less anti-competitive means.
posted by Miguel Noronha 12:09 da tarde
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