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Judgment of the Court (Sixth Chamber) of 21 January 1992.

Nationale Raad van de Orde van Architecten v Ulrich Egle.

C-310/90 • ECLI:EU:C:1992:27 • 61990CJ0310

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Nationale Raad van de Orde van Architecten v Ulrich Egle.

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Keywords

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Freedom of movement for persons - Freedom of establishment - Freedom to provide services - Architects - Recognition of diplomas and other evidence of formal qualifications - Minimum length of education and training - Full-time studies - Meaning

(Council Directive 85/384, Article 4(1)(a) )

Summary

Article 4(1)(a) of Directive 85/384 on the mutual recognition of diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications in architecture, including measures to facilitate the effective exercise of the right of establishment and freedom to provide services is to be interpreted as meaning that education and training which last for four years and which include practical semesters organized and supervised by the educational establishment must be regarded as four years of full-time studies.

Parties

In Case C-310/90,

REFERENCE to the Court under Article 177 of the EEC Treaty by the Hof van Cassatie van België (Belgian Court of Cassation) for a preliminary ruling in the proceedings pending before that court between

Nationale Raad van de Orde van Architecten

and

Ulrich Egle

on the interpretation of Article 4(1)(a) of Council Directive 85/384/EEC of 10 June 1985 on the mutual recognition of diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications in architecture, including measures to facilitate the effective exercise of the right of establishment and freedom to provide services (Official Journal 1985 L 233, p. 15),

THE COURT (Sixth Chamber),

composed of: F.A. Schockweiler, President of the Chamber, G.F. Mancini, P.J.G. Kapteyn, M. Díez de Velasco and J.L. Murray, Judges,

Advocate General: M. Darmon,

Registrar: H.A. Ruehl, Principal Administrator,

after considering the written observations submitted on behalf of:

- the Nationale Raad van de Orde van Architecten, by René Buetzler, Advocat at the Hof van Cassatie van België,

- the German Government, by E. Roeder, Regierungsdirektor at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, acting as Agent,

- the Italian Government, by P.G. Ferri, Avvocato dello Stato, acting as Agent,

- the Commission of the European Communities, by E. Lasnet and P. van Nuffel, members of its Legal Service, acting as Agents,

having regard to the Report for the Hearing,

after hearing oral observations of the German Government and the Commission at the hearing on 23 October 1991,

after hearing the Opinion of the Advocate General at the sitting on 19 November 1991,

gives the following

Judgment

Grounds

1 By judgment of 5 October 1990, which was received at the Court on 10 October 1990, the Hof van Cassatie van België (Belgian Court of Cassation) referred to the Court for a preliminary ruling under Article 177 of the EEC Treaty a question on the interpretation of Article 4(1)(a) of Council Directive 85/384/EEC of 10 June 1985 on the mutual recognition of diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications in architecture, including measures to facilitate the effective exercise of the right of establishment and freedom to provide services (Official Journal 1985 L 223, p. 15, hereinafter referred to as "the directive").

2 That question was raised in proceedings between Mr Ulrich Egle and the Nationale Raad van de Orde van Architecten (National Council of the Architects' Association).

3 Mr Egle, who is of German nationality and who is resident in Belgium, applied to have his name entered on the register of the Architects' Association of the Province of Limbourg. Mr Egle holds a diploma awarded by the Department of Architecture (Architektur/Hochbau) of the Constance Fachhochschule on 25 July 1981 following completion of four years study, including two practical semesters, in accordance with the Fachhochschulgesetz of the Land Baden-Wuerttemberg. Mr Egle' s application was rejected by the Raad van de Orde van Architecten van de provincie Limburg (Council of the Architects' Association of the Province of Limbourg).

4 Mr Egle appealed against that decision to the Raad van Beroep van de Orde van Architecten (Appeals Committee of the Architects' Association) and pleaded the provisions of the directive. The Appeals Committee considered that the Architects' Association of the Province of Limbourg had wrongly refused to enter Mr Egle' s name on the Register. The National Council of the Architects' Association appealed in cassation against that decision to the Hof van Cassatie van België.

5 Taking the view that the proceedings raised a question concerning the interpretation of the provisions of Article 4 of the directive, the Hof van Cassatie van België, by order of 5 October 1990, requested the Court of Justice to rule on the following question:

"Must Article 4(1)(a) of Directive 85/384/EEC be interpreted in such a way that education and training which lasts for four years and which includes integrated practical semesters, supervised by the college, can be regarded as four years of full-time studies?"

6 Reference is made to the Report for the Hearing for a fuller account of the facts of the case, the procedure and the written observations submitted to the Court, which are mentioned or discussed hereinafter only in so far as is necessary for the reasoning of the Court.

7 As a preliminary point, it should be observed that the directive provides for the mutual recognition of diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications in architecture which satisfy the requirements laid down in Articles 3 and 4 of the directive.

8 With regard to the criterion concerning the length of education and training that is the subject of the reference for a preliminary ruling, Article 4(1)(a) of the directive requires that it consist of at least four years of full-time studies in a university or comparable educational establishment. Notwithstanding that provision, the second subparagraph of Article 4(1) of the directive provides that training given over three years in the "Fachhochschulen" in the Federal Republic of Germany satisfies the requirements of the directive as to the length of training provided that such training is supplemented by a four-year period of professional experience in the Federal Republic of Germany.

9 With regard to the concept of "studies", within the meaning of Article 4(1)(a) of the directive, it should be pointed out that according to Article 3 of the directive, the courses of architectural studies are to be balanced between the theoretical and practical aspects of training. Consequently, the concept of "studies" can be applied to practical training which the students must undergo in order to obtain the architectural diploma. The directive does not stipulate how theoretical training is to be combined with practical training.

10 In that respect, it is apparent from the documents before the Court that the practical semesters organized by the Fachhochschulen are an integral part of the studies. The content of those semesters is precisely regulated by the Fachhochschulen and their completion by the student results in an assessment by a member of the teaching staff. The practical semesters are moreover integrated into the courses of architectural studies in such a way that they are always placed between the semesters of theoretical training so that the studies can never finish with a practical semester. Practical training of that type therefore constitutes an integral part of the architectural studies for the purposes of Article 4(1)(a) of the directive.

11 With regard to the requirement laid down in Article 4(1)(a), that the studies be full-time, it must be pointed out that this refers to the time which the student must devote to his training in order to obtain the diploma in architecture. Such is the case when the practical semesters are organized and supervised by the university and demand of the student that he make himself available full time in the same manner as is required during the semesters of theoretical training.

12 That interpretation is confirmed by a joint declaration of the Commission and the Council, contained in the minutes of the session at which the directive was adopted, which states "periods of practical training incorporated into the course culminating in an examination do not affect the full-time nature of such training".

13 The same interpretation is further confirmed by the fact that the second subparagraph of Article 4(1) of the directive lays down a different rule with regard to architectural training given over three years in the Fachhochschulen. Those years are recognized provided that they are supplemented by a four-year period of professional experience.

14 That requirement of professional experience in the case of training given over three years would be meaningless if training consisting of four years of studies also fell within the scope of that rule. If the Community legislature had wished to bring within that rule all courses of architectural training provided in the Fachhochschulen in the Federal Republic of Germany, it would not have distinguished between those lasting three years and those lasting four years.

15 Accordingly the reply to be given to the question referred by the national court must be that Article 4(1)(a) of Directive 85/384/EEC is to be interpreted as meaning that education and training which last for four years and which include practical semesters organized and supervised by the Fachhochschulen must be regarded as four years of full-time studies.

Decision on costs

Costs

16 The costs incurred by the Federal Republic of Germany, by the Italian Republic and by the Commission of the European Communities, which have submitted observations to the Court, are not recoverable. Since these proceedings are, for the parties to the main proceedings, a step in the proceedings pending before the national court, the decision on costs is a matter for that court.

Operative part

On those grounds,

THE COURT (Sixth Chamber),

in answer to the question referred to it by the Hof van Cassatie van België, by order of 5 October 1990, hereby rules:

Article 4(1)(a) of Council Directive 85/384/EEC of 10 June 1985 on the mutual recognition of diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications in architecture, including measures to facilitate the effective exercise of the right of establishment and freedom to provide services must be interpreted as meaning that education and training which last for four years and which include practical semesters organized and supervised by the Fachhochschule must be regarded as four years of full-time studies.

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