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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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Health professions

This chapter analyses the regulation of pharmacists and nutritionists. It focuses mainly on an important issue arising from the Draft-Law 34/XIII text, still pending in parliament, which aims to reserve acts for nutritionists and pharmacists. The provision of healthcare services is heavily regulated throughout the European Union and elsewhere to ensure the health and public safety of consumers overall, considering the positive externalities arising from healthcare services. In 2015, actively practising nutritionists were distributed mainly through clinical nutritionist services (51.97%) and hospitals (19.01%), among others. The majority of practising pharmacists in Portugal work in local community pharmacies (75%), followed by hospital pharmacies (13%). The regulatory barriers analysed here include reserved acts and exclusivity of functions.

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