One of the pillars of the European Union (EU) is to promote the mobility of professionals and to guarantee their freedom of movement. In particular, this includes the EU citizen’s right to work in other EU Member States and to equal treatment as nationals from this State. To achieve this aim, each Member State’s mutual recognition of professional qualifications is required.

It is in this perspective that the European Professional Card was set forth in Directive 2013/55/EU dated 20 November 2013 (hereinafter the “Directive”). This Professional Card is in fact an electronic certificate that enables professionals to easily and efficiently justify of their professional qualifications with a view to carry out a professional occupation, temporarily or permanently in another EU Member State or in a State party to the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement.

The European Professional Card offers interesting prospects to a significant part of regulated professions, and notably real estate agents.

The ordinance no. 2016-1809 dated 22 December 2016 (hereinafter the “Ordinance”) transposed into French Law the provisions of this Directive.

Simplification of the professional qualification recognition procedure

The procedure for recognising professional qualifications for real estate agents in EU Member States and/or parties to the EEA agreement has been simplified in primarily two ways.

On the one hand, access conditions for real estate agents in France have been facilitated. Article 23 of the Ordinance lowers the minimum length of professional experience for applicants from Member States that do not provide for any specific regulation on professional qualifications. From now, applicants must justify of a professional experience of at least a full-time year during the past ten years in one or more EU Member States or State party to the EEA agreement, instead of two years previously.

On the other hand, the implementation of the European Professional Card makes it easier for real estate agents to carry out their occupation in EU Member States and/or in States party to the EEA agreement.

Real estate agents based in France, and who wish to work in another EU Member States EU or a State party to the EEA agreement, must submit their European Professional Card application online to the relevant French authority as well as provide copies of the appropriate supporting documents. The French relevant authority should be the Chamber of Commerce and Industry – CCI. After the competent French authority checks the applicant’s documents, the application will be sent to the host State’s competent authority, which may, if necessary, perform additional due diligence, in particular regarding the applicant’s knowledge of the host State’s language. Should the relevant authority of this State fail to reply within the set time limit, this silence shall be deemed as acceptance of the application, and, consequently shall prompt issuance of the European Professional Card.

Reinforcement of administrative cooperation and alert mechanisms

The Ordinance provides a series of measures in order to strengthen cooperation between the various EU Member States or parties to the EEA agreement.

For example, the relevant authorities may obtain from other Member States information on criminal or disciplinary sanctions levied against a real estate agent, if they have serious doubts about his or her application for recognition of professional qualifications. By circulating this information, the new provisions should help make the profession more secure.

However, sending this information falls under data protection measures protecting the real estate agent’s personal information. In the event of a false alert, the real estate agent has the right to appeal, redress and rectify the information sent by the French authority regarding their sanction or prohibition.

A forthcoming implementing decree should clarify the procedures for checking applications as well as for issuing the European Professional Card.