Workshop of Liberal Professions

On Thursday 1 December, members of Group III representing the liberal professions met in a WORKSHOP on Liberal Professions in Europe, chaired by Arno Metzler, Vice-President of Group III. The event also brought together representatives of organisations representing the liberal professions in several Member States (Austria, Germany, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Spain) and a number of other European professional organisations.

After a general introduction on the economic and social value of the European liberal professions, the issue of a joint European understanding of "liberal professionalism" was addressed from a legal point of view. Core values were also discussed, including ethics, public values and forms of execution (professional partnerships, independent or employee status, capital restrictions, integrity and professional independence).

In the second part of the workshop, the personal, social and economic situation of the liberal professions in Europe was discussed. The workshop reviewed figures, the economic contribution of the liberal professions to the EU's GDP (12.8 % on average), its gender ratio (55%) and the basis of the sector's income levels, its market shares and the development of new services in the 4.0 society.

Luca Jahier, Group III President, urged the representatives to overcome their divergent structures in Europe, in order to use their economic weight more efficiently, and to adopt a joint stance to bolster Europe (civil society and the single market) and the liberal professions.

Arno Metzler thanked Angela Niebler (MEP) and Thomas Mann (MEP) for their support in establishing a permanent platform for the liberal professions in the EESC, as had already been done for the social economy.

Participants agreed on the urgent need to come up with a common definition of liberal professions at European level in order to voice their concerns at the same time as raising awareness of their social and economic contribution in the EU on the part of legislators and the general public. More work needed to be done on the platform, in close collaboration with stakeholders.

All the participants were counting on the support of Group III, which would dedicate a board meeting in Malta to the theme of ethics and a major event on the liberal professions in 2017. The objective was to promote the new common platform, which would allow the liberal professions to develop a positive approach towards Europe, a common strategy and an action plan at EU level.

There was not enough time to address the following issues and they were therefore deferred until the next meeting: young professionals, underemployment, poverty in old age, professional insurance, work-life balance, recruiting the next generations and new professions.