Created on 21 December 2021

Within the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) Week 2021 Conference, which was held in Skopje, North Macedonia, from 13 to 16 December 2021, the representative of the Centre for Information and Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education (CIP) participated as the panelist in a panel discussion with the topic Trade in Services and Licences, Qualification, Permits.

CEFTA Week 2021 ConferenceFollowing adoption of the Additional Protocol 6 on Trade in Services, CEFTA Parties have made a huge step towards free movement of services. Extensive commitments on market access and national treatment have already taken effect, shifting the emphasis on issues related to domestic regulation. The first on the CEFTA list of priorities are authorisations which are known by different names and forms: licenses, qualifications, permits, approvals, i.e. basically everything where businesses are required to get an approval before being allowed to supply the service. CEFTA has launched several initiatives which aim at simplifying business operations based on EU acquis, in particular Service Directive and Professional Qualifications Directive. The panel zoomed into these activities, as well as, discussed potentially new ones, seeking to further facilitate trade in service and bring Common Regional Market to life.

The representative of the CIP pointed out that the recognition of professional qualification is really demanding process in the Western Balkans, which requests a coordination of different institutions in every single economy. Currently it has been negotiated between Western Balkans economies about tho different issues. The Regional Council for Cooperation (RCC) Agreement is related to recognition of professional qualification for practising regulated profession of the doctor of medicine, dentist and architect. These three professions are already stipulated by the Directive on professional qualifications for practising regulated professions and most higher education institutions in the Western Balkans already harmonized their study programs with the provisions of Directive so that it would not be any obstacle to implement this Agreement. CEFTA Week 2021 Conference 2On the other hand the CEFTA Decision is related to general system of recognition of professional qualification for practicing regulated profession in Western Balkans and implementation of this decision will be much harder because it needs synergy of different stakeholders.

At the end the CIP representative highlighted that in all these reforms, an experience of the EU country are very important, especially because they have done deregulation of some professions. The Western Balkans economies should be aware of this, and main goal of the law on professional qualifications, which means an additional regulation of the part of labor market, should be public health, safety and

consumer protection but not to prevent foreigners for access to this regulated part of the labor market. This should be the streamline for all economies.