The Slovenia Times

No Obstacles to Working in the EU Real Estate Market



In the last few years, several acts regarding the real estate market have been implemented in Slovenia. The work is far from being finished, because Slovene legislation has to adapt to the European legislation as well. In June 2005, the European Commission accepted the 2005/36/CE Directive on Professional Qualifications and Experience, which concerns the acknowledgment of job qualifications, and which is to be included in the legislation of all EU member countries by the end of 2007. Real estate experts will be able to work in any EU member country, which will remove obstacles for real estate tenders, as well as make possible the free flow of real estate services in the internal EU market. The Directive on Professional Qualifications and Experience also states that every EU member country has to establish an information point with a simplified administration on the state, regional or local level. Real estate service tenders will thus be able to sort out all administrative procedures for establishing the appropriate organizational form in one place. The information point will be responsible for providing the citizens and information points of other EU member countries with the necessary information concerning job qualifications acknowledgment in accordance with the Directive on Professional Qualifications and Experience. The Role of the CEPI As stated in the Directive on Professional Qualifications and Experience, professional associations can forward to the European Commission the joint starting points to be implemented on the EU level. We are talking about a collection of criteria to confirm whether the level of qualification fulfils the requirements for performing a particular occupation in EU member countries; on the basis of this set of criteria the associations will assess qualifications that were obtained in EU member countries. The European Council of Real Estate Professions (CEPI) plays an important role in this; this international, non-profit organisation is based in Brussels and connects more than 200,000 real estate experts from 35 professional associations in 22 countries. Slovenia has been represented in its network since March 2004. Xavier Ortegat, Executive Director of the CEPI Secretariat, told us that CEPI has prepared the starting points - i.e. the list of minimum educational requirements for real estate brokers and managers - in accordance with the EU Directive on Professional Qualifications and Experience and has sent it to the European Commission. At the beginning of 2006, the European Commission sent its comments: the information for each EU member country has to be more detailed, an estimate of the complexities of various regulatory systems has to be provided, the lowest common denominator regarding the required job qualifications has to be decided upon, and substitute measures have to be proposed for each EU member country. At CEPI, they are well aware that educational standards for real estate brokers and managers vary between the different countries of the EU . Therefore, it would be very useful to decide upon joint starting points for each occupation. The educational requirements, as stated in the joint starting points, would represent an acceptable compromise on the varying standards that have been established in different EU member countries, and would serve as a collective recommendation for all EU member countries. They would not represent an attempt to standardise or harmonize educational requirements between individual EU member countries. "We have to discuss the minimum educational requirements and negotiate individually with each EU member country, which in effect means we need to get complete information for all 27 countries, if we include Romania and Bulgaria. CEPI can only persuade every EU member country to provide access to its real estate market, to forward real estate information, and to cooperate with checking the various phases of projects in other EU countries. It can only persuade them to cooperate with each other, and to check whether their customers are properly protected - but it cannot do more than that," explains Xavier Ortegat. According to Ortegat, CEPI decided to take the second route to achieving their objectives, namely to establish the minimum educational requirements for real estate experts. They started to collaborate with schools, universities and other higher education institutions in order to set the minimum educational requirements. Currently, they are collaborating with 50 such schools and institutions. Ortegat believes the most problematic question CEPI is facing is how to establish the minimum level of legislation harmonization necessary between EU member countries and the European Union, because the latter seems reluctant to add more new acts to its many existing ones. Partial Harmonization of Slovene Legislation At the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, they say that Slovene Legislation has been partially harmonized with the 2005/36/CE Directive on Professional Qualifications and Experience, which has been achieved with the Act on Real Estate Brokerage. This will enable Slovene real estate brokers to work under conditions as set up by the host country, in accordance with the Directive on Professional Qualifications and Experience, and with mutual recognition of work qualifications for a real estate broker or manager. However, we are still waiting for the directive regarding qualifications for a multi-apartment building manager. At the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning they explain that changes and additions are to be expected regarding the Housing Act of 2003, which includes provisions about multi-apartment building managers. As I have already noted, every country has until the end of 2007 to harmonize its legislation with the requirements of the Directive on Professional Qualifications and Experience. However, our story does not end here. With this directive, the European Commission has tried to create trust between the different EU member countries, and has also foreseen the harmonization of legislation in the fields of customer protection, customer data, insurance responsibility, financial warranties, settlement of disputes, exchange of information on the quality of service providers, documents on the quality and regulations of service operations. The EU member countries have to harmonize their legislation on these issues by 2010. Is There Any Interest in Working Abroad? We asked Janez Frelih, M.Sc, President of the Real Estate Association at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Slovenia, whether he has noticed any interest in work in other EU countries among Slovene real estate agents. "In the first phase, I expect proportionally little interest among Slovene real estate brokers in working abroad and vice versa. Only after these people will have made fruitful contacts and after the principle of reciprocity has been established, might interest in working abroad increase," says Frelih. At the current time, it seems a bit difficult to forecast whether Slovene real estate experts will decide to work abroad in the future any more than they do now. However, it is important to acknowledge that Slovene citizens have the same rights to job opportunities in other EU countries as do other EU citizens.


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