Tag Archives: Professional qualification

Action plan for skills and mobility

Action plan for skills and mobility

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Action plan for skills and mobility

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Living and working in the internal market

Action plan for skills and mobility

Document or Iniciative

Communication of 13 February 2002 from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Commission’s Action Plan for skills and mobility [COM(2002) 72 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Action Plan addresses the need to increase the occupational mobility (i.e. changing jobs) of workers from the poorer regions to those of the wealthier regions of the European Union. At present, only 0.1 % of the European population have established their official residence in another country in 2000, and only 1.2 % moved to another region to live in 1999. This low level of geographical mobility is particularly serious when it restricts the occupational mobility of the less advanced regions.

The Action Plan not only identifies the three basic challenges to be addressed, namely the challenge of inadequate occupational mobility, the low levels of geographical mobility and the difficulty of access to information on mobility, but also sets out priority areas for action.

Priority areas for action

The Commission plans to carry out, with full respect for the principle of subsidiarity, priority actions which will address the major challenges of occupational mobility, geographical mobility and lack of information.

To ensure substantial progress in worker mobility in Europe between now and 2005, the Commission proposes the following action priorities:

  • expanding occupational mobility and skills development;
  • improving information and transparency of job opportunities;
  • facilitating geographical mobility.

Expanding occupational mobility and skills development involves:

  • promoting access for all citizens to education and training, notably free access to the acquisition of key skills, regardless of age. Creation of European seals of quality for better ICT-based education systems;
  • encouraging students, particularly girls, to study mathematics, science and technology;
  • improving general education levels, and more specifically integrating into the education systems disabled youngsters, those with learning difficulties and those from immigrant communities or from ethnic minorities;
  • creating a better interface between the world of education and the world of work. Creation of a network to ensure communication between bodies operating in the private sector and the educational sector;
  • getting workers, particularly older workers, into in-house training programmes offered by their employers, and offering incentives both to employers and to workers in order to achieve this;
  • rewarding companies and public sector organisations which introduce particularly innovative education and lifelong learning strategies;
  • developing transparent ICT skills definitions based on European-wide standards and on validation and recognition schemes;
  • better monitoring of the demand for ICT skills, taking account of the requirements of the world of work, and creation of detailed skills profiles;
  • developing a European framework for the evaluation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning and work experience;
  • pursuing the further development of instruments such as the Europass, the European CV and the European portfolio by 2003, and at the same time developing a system for accumulation of qualifications acquired in different establishments and different countries;
  • making more funds available for investment in human resources.

Facilitating geographical mobility involves:

  • maintaining rights to reside and work in another Member State, including workers’ social security rights;
  • creating an EU health insurance card. The Commission proposes introducing an electronic card to replace the existing E 111 insurance form, whereby cardholders would be entitled to health care anywhere in the European Union and to reimbursement of the costs by their own Member State;
  • creating transferable supplementary pension rights;
  • clarifying and simplifying recognition of qualifications for the regulated professions. The regulated professions are covered by a series of Directives. This series of Directives is soon to be replaced by a single, consolidated Directive covering all the regulated professions;
  • intensifying efforts to create an internal market for the provision of cross-border services and to remove the obstacles to freedom of establishment;
  • reforming the tax-benefit systems to promote regional mobility within Member States;
  • introduce the teaching of foreign languages as early as possible, for example by the age of 8, so that students are competent in at least two foreign European languages by the time they finish their compulsory schooling (at age 16 or 18) ;
  • encouraging students to undertake a significant proportion (e.g. one third) of their higher education in another Member State;
  • creating a European system of voluntary quality standards in education and training, in order to promote mobility in the non-regulated professions;
  • abolishing, in collective agreements, local, regional or national restrictions relating to qualifications;
  • defining an EU-wide immigration policy. Granting third-country nationals residing in a Member State European rights comparable to those granted to EU citizens, especially as regards residence, employment and social security rights.

Improving information and transparency of job opportunities:

  • creating a one-stop Internet site on European Mobility, a more comprehensive information service for the regulated professions. An EU portal devoted to learning opportunities will be set up by the end of 2002. At present, practical information covering the rights of citizens to live and work in other Member States as well as other rights and opportunities within the EU can be accessed on Europe Direct which also provides links to national, regional and local information and advice bodies;
  • developing EURES (the European online jobseeking system) and developing a comparable jobs classification system, so that EURES becomes an everyday tool of the national employment services;
  • launching an EU-wide mobility information campaign, as well as sectorally focused information campaigns.

The Commission will assess the implementation of the Action Plan annually, at the springtime European Summit.

Background

Achieving the objectives established in Lisbon in March 2000 of more and better jobs, greater social cohesion and the creation of a European area of knowledge requires a skilled and adaptable labour force on more open and more accessible European labour markets. This Action Plan calls for Member States, enterprises and workers themselves to be more responsive to the new requirements of the labour market and also sets the European governments a concrete short-term objective, namely the creation of an EU health insurance card.

Following the Communication on the New European Labour Markets, which launched the debate on mobility at the Stockholm European Council of March 2001, the Commission instructed a high level task force to produce a report, which forms the basis of this Action Plan.

The Action Plan also draws on the new EU initiatives designed to create a European Area of Lifelong Learning and to contribute to the mobility of citizens (see in particular the Recommendation of the Council and the European Parliament on mobility and the associated Action Plan, to which Member States have agreed).

To achieve the objective of creating more open and more accessible labour markets in the EU by 2005, the Commission will ensure that this Action Plan is reflected in the forthcoming review of the European Employment Strategy and in any initiative to establish a European Area of Lifelong Learning.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 25 January 2007 – Final Report on the Implementation of the Commission’s Action Plan for Skills and Mobility [COM(2007) 24 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The Commission evaluates the execution of the action plan, particularly in the light of the 2004 report, some of whose actions have only just been implemented, and the new integrated economic and employment guidelines 2005-2008.
The action plan helps move towards a European labour market that is open and accessible to all in the context of:

  • expanding occupational mobility and skills based on a series of benchmarks adopted by the Council in May 2003 to be achieved by 2010. A number of actions have been carried out since 2004 such as, in the field of research, the launch of the ” Researchers in Europe Initiative ” and the adoption of the European Charter for Researchers and a Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers in 2005 [PDF ]. In addition, the recognition of qualifications and competences has been consolidated through Europass which provides a single framework for their transparency and transferability and through the ongoing compilation of a European Qualifications Framework (EQF) for non-regulated professions. In the field of information and communication technology (ICT), better understanding about the nature and structure of ICT practitioner skills should be fostered by the European ICT skills Meta-Framework which is currently being compiled. In this context, lifelong learning and continuing training should also be given support, particularly by developing comprehensive lifelong learning strategies by the end of 2006;
  • facilitating geographic mobility. Progress is being made here with the adoption of the European Health Insurance Card, the co-ordination of Social Security Schemes, the recognition of professional qualifications for regulated professions, the European Quality Charter for mobility, the reduction of barriers in the field of supplementary pension schemes or residence in the EU of third-country researchers. On a more general basis, the EU has adopted immigration policy measures at Community level in order to simplify the movement and residence of European citizens and their families on EU territory (Directive 2004/38/EC). At the same time, work is continuing on managing economic migration at Community level (Green Paper in January 2005 and communication from the Commission on a policy plan on legal migration);
  • Improving information and transparency of job opportunities. These should be enhanced by the “Your Europe” portal which provides information for workers, students and businesses or by the EURES portal which now gives direct access to all job vacancies published by the public employment services. In addition, Eracareers, the European Researcher’s Mobility portal, offers them a personalised assistance service through Eramore which covers 200 mobility centres located in over 30 countries;

There are nonetheless a number of challenges which require an appropriate response in order to strengthen the implementation of the action plan and guarantee that Europeans are aware of the professional and geographical changes, particularly as regards their rights and opportunities. The main challenges relate to:

  • lifelong learning, especially the development of coherent and comprehensive strategies open to all, as well as incentives and cost-sharing mechanisms so as to enhance the adaptability and flexibility of the workforce in accordance with the Employment Guidelines and the Community Lisbon Programme;
  • ICT skills with more investment in EU core comparative and competitive advantages and attention to factual information when debating the issues at stake;
  • removing the legal, administrative and cultural obstacles to mobility in order to create a genuine European labour market. The work on non regulated professions should therefore continue and new initiatives be developed in areas such as language skills or appropriate training prior to mobility which form part of the new global approach put forward in the 2006 Annual Progress Report. The latter calls for a new partnership between the Commission and the Member States in order to meet the global challenges of more and better jobs;
  • a framework for economic migration to turn this into a key asset for the economic and social development of Europe and the competitiveness of EU enterprises;
  • an integrated approach to mobility in line with the Community Lisbon Programme and the new Employment Guidelines (2005-2008).

Recommendation (EC) No 2006/961 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on transnational mobility within the Community for education and training purposes: European Quality Charter for Mobility [Official Journal L 394, 30.12.2006].

Communication from the Commission of 6 February 2004 to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Report on the Implementation of the Commission’s Action Plan for Skills and Mobility [COM(2004) 66 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Against a background of general slowdown in economic activity (in 2002, growth in GDP in the EU was around 1 %, whereas it was forecast at 0.8 % in 2003), the consequent reduction in job vacancies is likely to reduce the propensity to move between jobs and may therefore have a negative impact on overall mobility rates. In 2002, for example, a lower proportion of employees (16.4 %) had been with the same employer for less then one year in 2002 than had been the case in 2000 (17.5 %).

Nevertheless, in weighing up the positive and negative aspects so far, the report points out that occupational mobility has benefited from the adoption of a series of benchmarks by the Council to be achieved by 2010, and a Europass framework to support the transparency and transferability of qualifications. Despite the slow progress on the draft directive to streamline the recognition of qualifications, and on the draft Directive on immigration for work-related purposes, the potential for geographic mobility has been moved forward, in particular thanks to the European Health Insurance Card and improved coordination of social security rights. Information and the transparency of job opportunities have also been encouraged by positive measures such as the opening of the European Job Mobility Portal, the launch of the mobility information campaign and the modernisation of EURES.

The Commission also underlines the growing importance being attached to these issues in the current Employment Guidelines and the associated work under the Education and Training programme. The new European Employment Strategy, agreed by the Council on 22 July 2003, calls upon the Member States to improve, in particular, the recognition and transparency of qualifications and competences and the transferability of social security and pension rights, providing appropriate incentives in tax and benefit systems, and taking into account labour market aspects of immigration. It also calls for job-seekers throughout the EU to be able, by 2005, to consult all job vacancies advertised through the Member States’ employment services. The Member States are further encouraged to implement lifelong learning strategies geared closely to the future objectives of the education and training systems.

Finally, the Commission identifies the areas in which action is still needed, namely:

  • Developing skills in the context of lifelong education and training, in particular in the area of ICT;
  • Promoting effective access for adults, whether in employment or job seekers, to further vocational training;
  • Equipping young people with the basic skills relevant to the labour market and needed to participate in lifelong learning;
  • Promoting initiatives helping workers to enter, remain and progress on the labour market;
  • Increasing, where appropriate, the transferability of social security rights, including pensions, across the European Union.

It is, however, important to continue to overcome obstacles to occupational and geographic mobility.

Council Resolution of 3 June 2002 on skills and mobility [Official Journal C 162 of 06.07.2002].

Statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts

Statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Businesses in the internal market > Company law

Statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2006/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 on statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts, amending Council Directives 78/660/EEC and 83/349/EEC and repealing Council Directive 84/253/EEC [See amending acts].

Summary

This Directive aims to reinforce and harmonise statutory audit procedures throughout the EU. It clarifies the duties of statutory auditors and establishes ethical principles to guarantee their objectivity and independence.

Approval, continuing education and mutual recognition

A statutory audit may be carried out only by statutory auditors * or audit firms * which are approved by the Member State requiring the statutory audit.

The Directive updates the course of studies auditors must follow. An auditor may be approved to carry out a statutory audit only after having attained university entrance or equivalent level, then completed a course of theoretical instruction, undergone practical training and passed an examination of professional competence.

Audit qualifications obtained by statutory auditors on the basis of the Directive should be considered equivalent by the Member States. The knowledge of auditors should be tested before a statutory auditor from another Member State can be approved.

The regulatory arrangements of Member States must respect the principle of home-country regulation and oversight by the Member State in which the statutory auditor or audit firm is approved and the audited entity has its registered office.

Registration

The Member States must ensure that all approved statutory auditors and audit firms are entered in a register which is accessible to the public and which contains basic information concerning statutory auditors and audit firms. They must also ensure that statutory auditors and audit firms notify the competent authorities in charge of the public register without undue delay of any change of information contained in the public register.

Professional ethics, independence, objectivity, confidentiality and professional secrecy

All statutory auditors and audit firms are subject to principles of professional ethics, covering at least their public-interest function, their integrity and objectivity and their professional competence and due care.

Member States must ensure that, when carrying out a statutory audit, the statutory auditor and/or the audit firm is independent of the audited entity and is not involved in the decision-taking of that entity. A statutory auditor or an audit firm must not carry out a statutory audit if there is any direct or indirect financial, business, employment or other relationship between the statutory auditor, audit firm or network and the audited entity.

All information and documents to which a statutory auditor or audit firm has access when carrying out a statutory audit must be protected by adequate rules on confidentiality and professional secrecy.

Auditing standards and audit reporting

The Commission may decide on the applicability of international auditing standards * within the EU. Member States must require statutory auditors and audit firms to carry out statutory audits in compliance with international auditing standards adopted by the Commission.

Where an audit firm carries out a statutory audit, the audit report must be signed by at least the statutory auditor carrying out that audit on behalf of the audit firm.

Quality assurance

Member States are obliged to organise a system of quality assurance for statutory audits that must meet the criteria laid down in the Directive. These cover, for example, the independence of those responsible for ensuring public oversight, secure funding and adequate resources for the system and the selection of reviewers for specific quality assurance review assignments.

Investigations and penalties

There must be effective systems of investigations and penalties to detect, correct and prevent inadequate execution of statutory audits.

Public oversight and regulatory arrangements between Member States

Member States must organise an effective system of public oversight for statutory auditors and audit firms. All statutory auditors and audit firms must be subject to public oversight, governed by non-practitioners * who are knowledgeable in the areas relevant to the statutory audit.

Regulatory arrangements of Member States must respect the principle of home-country regulation and oversight by the Member State in which the statutory auditor or audit firm is approved and the audited entity has its registered office.

The statutory audit of public-interest entities

Each public-interest entity must have an audit committee, responsible, among other things, for:

  • monitoring the financial reporting process;
  • monitoring the effectiveness of the company’s internal control, internal audit where applicable, and risk management systems;
  • monitoring the statutory audit of the annual and consolidated accounts;
  • reviewing and monitoring the independence of the statutory auditor or audit firm, and in particular the provision of additional services to the audited entity.

International aspects

The competent authorities of a Member State may approve a third-country auditor as a statutory auditor if that person has furnished proof that he or she complies with requirements equivalent to those laid down in the Directive. The competent authorities of a Member State must register every third-country auditor and audit entity that provides an audit report concerning the annual or consolidated accounts of a company incorporated outside the EU.

Member States may allow, in accordance with the Directive, the transfer to the competent authorities of a third country of audit working papers or other documents held by statutory auditors or audit firms approved by them.

Key terms used in the act

  • Statutory auditor: a natural person who is approved in accordance with the Directive by the competent authorities of a Member State to carry out statutory audits.
  • Audit firm: a legal person or any other entity, regardless of its legal form, that is approved in accordance with the Directive by the competent authorities of a Member State to carry out statutory audits.
  • Non-practitioner: any natural person who, for at least three years before his or her involvement in the governance of the public oversight system, has not carried out statutory audits, has not held voting rights in an audit firm, has not been a member of the administrative or management body of an audit firm and has not been employed by, or otherwise associated with, an audit firm.
  • International auditing standards: International Standards on Auditing (ISA) and related Statements and Standards, insofar as relevant to the statutory audit.
  • International accounting standards: International Accounting Standards (IAS), International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and related Interpretations (SIC-IFRIC interpretations), subsequent amendments to those standards and related interpretations, and future standards and related interpretations issued or adopted by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2006/43/EC [adoption: codecision COD 2004/0065]

29.6.2006 29.6.2008 OJ L 157 of 9.6.2006
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2008/30/EC [adoption: codecision COD 2006/0285]

21.3.2008 OJ L 81 of 20.3.2008

Related Acts

Commission Recommendation of 5 June 2008 concerning the limitation of the civil liability of statutory auditors and audit firms (notified under document number C(2008) 2274 – Official Journal L 162 of 21.6.2008].
The Commission notes that the increasing volatility of market capitalisation has led to much higher liability risks for statutory auditors and audit firms that carry out statutory audits for listed companies. At the same time, access to insurance against these risks has been reduced. The Commission considers that this situation may deter auditors from entering the international audit market for listed companies in the Community and reduce the prospect of new actors emerging in this sector. Consequently, the Commission recommends limiting the civil liability of auditors and audit firms, except in cases of intentional breach of professional duties. In view of the considerable variations between civil liability systems in the Member States, the Commission considers that each Member State should be able to choose the method of limitation which it considers to be the most suitable for its particular case. The Commission invites Member States to inform it of actions taken by 5 June 2010. The Commission adds that the limitation of the liability of auditors should not however prevent injured parties from being fairly compensated.