EU inquiry into Cyprus estate agents rules

According to a number of press reports, the European Commission has sent Cyprus an official request for information on its laws governing estate agents; it considers these may not be compatible with EU internal market laws.

Cyprus passed a law in July 2007 that imposed conditions on the professional requirements of estate agents from other EU member states. These conditions concern qualifications, professional experience and require would-by estate agents to pass an exam proving knowledge of Cypriot legislation in the subject area.

The European Commission believes these may be contrary to the EU laws on freedom to provide services. Cyprus has two months to respond.

Press reports at: Hemscott, CNBC and Forbes


From Stockwatch Limited:

EU investigation on CY estate agents

The European Commission has decided to send Cyprus an official request for information on its national legislation restricting the activities of estate agents.

The Law adopted in July 2007, after an initial letter of formal notice was sent in July 2006 concerning the provisions of Law 273/2004, does in fact pose certain conditions upon the recognition of the qualifications of the professionals of other Member States and imposes limits upon the exercise of this profession by legal persons, as well as upon the freedom to provide services in this sector.

According to the announcement, the Commission considers that these provisions may be incompatible with Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications, and with Articles 43 and 49 of the EC Treaty guaranteeing the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services within the European Union respectively. The letter of formal notice is the first step in an infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. Cyprus has two months to reply.

“This new Law imposes certain conditions upon the recognition of the qualifications of professionals established in the other Member States. These conditions concern qualifications, professional experience and require would-be estate agents to pass an exam proving knowledge of Cypriot legislation in this area, and therefore raise problems of conformity with Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications”, the announcement said.

“Furthermore, the freedom to provide services in this profession is subject to the obligation to collaborate with an estate agent established in Cyprus, which is contrary to the provisions of this Directive and the principle of the freedom to provide services as laid down by Article 49 of the EC Treaty”, it added.

“Lastly, the Law requires legal persons active in this area to exercise this activity as their sole corporate purpose. Furthermore, the person or persons exercising the activity of estate agent in a company are required to exercise this activity exclusively in the company that employs them and may not act independently of their employer either for other persons or companies, or on their own account. These two provisions raise problems of compatibility with Article 43 of the EC Treaty, guaranteeing freedom of establishment”, the announcement concluded.


From the Cyprus Mail:

EU warns Cyprus over restrictions on estate agents

THE European Commission will ask Cyprus about national legislation restricting the activities of non-Cypriot estate agents, it said yesterday.

It has also sent out a reasoned opinion to Cyprus over the non-recognition of professional qualifications from other EU countries.

In the case of estate agents, a formal a notice was sent in July 2006 concerning the provisions of the law, which imposes certain conditions on the recognition of the qualifications of professionals of other member states, and imposes limits upon the exercise of this profession.

The Cyprus law was amended in 2007, but contains new provisions and conditions that the Commission says may be incompatible with EU directives on the recognition of professional qualifications.

Cyprus has two months to reply to the latest letter.

“These [new] conditions concern qualifications and professional experience and require would-be estate agents to pass an exam proving knowledge of Cypriot legislation in this area,” the Commission said.

“Furthermore, the freedom to provide services in this profession is subject to the obligation to collaborate with an estate agent established in Cyprus, which is contrary to the provisions of this Directive and the principle of the freedom to provide services.”

It said the Cypriot law also requires legal persons active in this area to exercise this activity as their sole corporate purpose, the Commission said.

The reasoned opinion sent on the issue of the non-recognition of qualifications in other professions, was also sent to eight other EU member states.

Reasoned opinions were sent to Ireland, Greece, France, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria, Portugal and Slovenia, for failing to transpose the Directive to national legislation.

The Directive is the result of the reform of the system of recognition of professional qualifications undertaken by the Commission in order to promote flexibility on the labour markets, further liberalise the provision of services, make the recognition of qualifications more automatic and simplify administrative procedures.

It covers such professions as doctors, nurses, dental practitioners, veterinary surgeons, midwives, pharmacists and architects.

By Jean Christou

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