OECD Competition Assessment Reviews: Portugal

Volume II - Self-Regulated Professions

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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.



Technical and scientific professions

This chapter discusses the regulation of architects, engineers and technical engineers. In 2015, the architectural and engineering services provided to Portuguese firms and households represented EUR 1 723.9 million and, in 2017 there were 96 690 individuals who were members of the professional associations related to architects, engineers and technical engineers. The exercise of these three professions and the legislation applicable to them are linked closely to public safety and health concerns. Nevertheless, several barriers to competition have been identified, including reservation of specific activities and specialisations for certain professions; requirement of a minimum number of years of experience in order to perform certain tasks; and limitation of freedom to establish prices. These barriers inhibit cost savings. They increase legal and regulatory uncertainty for potential and existing architects, engineers and technical engineers while also allowing some of them to be placed at a competitive disadvantage.


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