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OECD Competition Assessment Reviews: Portugal

Volume II - Self-Regulated Professions

image of OECD Competition Assessment Reviews: Portugal

Portugal’s services markets are among the most heavily regulated in the OECD. As vital inputs into the business sector, services provided by professionals, such as lawyers and engineers, generate up to 1.8 times their value in outputs by firms that use them. However, structural flaws in the regulation make professional services highly expensive for firms, diminishing their ability to compete effectively. Regulatory restrictions also hamper innovation and efficiency within the professions. Against this backdrop, this report examines regulations for 13 self-regulated professions (lawyers, solicitors, notaries, bailiffs, architects, engineers, technical engineers, certified accountants, auditors, economists, customs brokers, nutritionists and pharmacists). From 923 pieces of legislation analysed, the report makes 348 individual recommendations for amending or removing provisions to improve competition, and makes a detailed inventory of the analysis underlying the work. Analysis of Portuguese legislation and professions was complemented by research into international experiences and wide consultations with stakeholders from the public and private sectors. The OECD recommendations aim to remove or modify overly restrictive provisions in order to facilitate the access or exercise of the professions, to benefit businesses and consumers alike. This report identifies the sources of those benefits and gives estimates of their impact. Provided all recommendations are fully implemented, the benefit to the economy from lifting the barriers in the 13 liberal professions is estimated at around EUR 130 million a year.

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Financial and economic professions

This chapter covers the regulation of auditors, certified accountants, customs brokers and economists. In 2015, accounting, auditing and consulting services provided to Portuguese firms and households represented EUR 2 044 million which corresponds to 15.5% of all services provided to firms. Several barriers to competition were identified in the legislation applicable to access to, and the exercise of, the four professions in question, including: reserving certain activities for specific professions; requirements for minimum academic qualifications; requirements concerning partnerships, shareholding, management and multidisciplinary activities within professional firms; the minimum civil liability insurance coverage necessary for practising certain professions; and compulsory disclosure of operational information. Those barriers inflate costs and increase legal and regulatory uncertainty for potential and existing auditors, certified accountants, customs brokers and economists, while placing some members of these professions at a competitive disadvantage.

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