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EU ready to enact CETA mutual recognition deal for architect qualifications

The EU is now ready to enact an agreement with Canada to mutually recognise professional qualifications for architects. This the first mutual recognition agreement – or MRA – concerning professional qualifications that Brussels has ever inked with a free trade agreement partner.

The architect deal was published today in the EU’s Official Journal. It must now be adopted by the EU-Canada Joint Committee on Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications, which is part of the institutional setup foreseen in CETA, the EU-Canada trade accord that has been in force provisionally since 2017.

The MRA will enter into force on the day that this Joint Committee adopts the decision, and will have effect 30 days later.

CETA allows professional bodies to mutually recognise their qualifications and hence practice in each other’s markets, providing that both parties – the government of Canada and the EU – approve it.

MRA negotiations started in 2021, four years after CETA came into force, and after the architect bodies on both sides provided the template for the deal.

Requirements for recognition

The deal will apply to both EU and Canadian nationals who wish to pursue architectural activities in the other jurisdiction on a self-employed or an employed basis.

“The competent authority of a host jurisdiction shall…recognise as equivalent the professional qualifications of an architect certified by any competent authority of the other party,” reads the text of the MRA.

The two parties have inserted requirements which must first be met by the architect.

To work in the other jurisdiction, EU and Canadian architects must demonstrate proof of a minimum of 12 years of education, training, and professional experience as an architect. This must include evidence of at least four years of professional experience.

Both EU and Canadian architects must hold “a valid professional registration or licence as an architect from a competent authority” from their respective jurisdiction.

The EU architect must also be “of good character” whilst the Canadian must be “of good standing”.

An architect from the EU must also successfully complete and pay for a “10-hour online pre-registration course to satisfy domain-specific knowledge requirements on building regulation, construction documents, contract administration and professional practice”, according to the draft MRA.

“The online pre-registration course shall not go beyond what is proportionate to address differences in domain-specific knowledge between the member states of the European Union and the provinces and territories of Canada,” says the draft MRA.

The EU also “reserves the right to introduce an equivalent online pre-registration course”, reads the text of the draft MRA.

The architect must apply for the recognition “by electric means”.

“Applications for recognition shall be made in the language of the host jurisdiction or any other language accepted by the host jurisdiction,” says the draft MRA.

The competent authority must take a “duly substantiated decision” on granting recognition within three months.

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