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European Commission - Press release

Freedom to provide services: Commission refers Austria to Court of Justice of the EU over restrictions on foreign ski instructors

Brussels, 22 July 2016

The European Commission has decided to take Austria to the Court of Justice of the EU due to the restrictions some Austrian provinces impose on ski instructors coming from other EU countries.

While the Commission agrees that the ski instructor profession requires adequate training and qualifications, it has concluded that some of the requirements in Austria discriminate against non-Austrian ski instructors without justification.

In the Austrian region of Tyrol, legislation prevents foreign ski instructors from accepting clients already present in Austria, thus limiting their right to provide services to clients they accompany from the country where the respective ski school or ski instructor is established. This restriction puts foreign instructors at a disadvantage compared with Tyrolean ski instructors entitled to accept clients without any restrictions. Such requirements are contrary to EU law and do not respect the freedom to provide services as set out in Article 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

The Commission also considers the regional legislation on ski schools in the province of Styria to be incompatible with EU rules on the free movement of workers, freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services as set out in Articles 45, 49 and 56 of TFEU respectively, and with EU case law. Styria does not recognise certain alpine ski instructor qualifications held by foreign instructors (such as Telemark, adaptive or Nordic skiing).

The Commission previously raised its concerns in a reasoned opinion in July 2014 and in an additional reasoned opinion in June 2015. As Austria has not adequately addressed these concerns and has not taken measures to remedy the situation, the Commission has decided to refer the Austrian authorities to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Background

The Commission has concluded that the Tyrolean legislation is not justified by the need to secure public security in high mountain areas since there are other possibilities under EU legislation on the recognition of professional qualifications to check specific safety related qualifications of migrant professionals without blocking access to a part of the market. Moreover, other Alpine regions do not seem to provide for such restrictions. The Tyrolean requirements are neither proportional nor necessary and they restrict the free provision of services in the EU.

The Commission also concludes that the legislation on ski schools in Styria is against EU law. Even though Austria has now recognised its obligation to grant partial access to instructors with specific qualifications, to date, this implementation has still not been carried out. The obligation stems from primary EU law as interpreted by the Court of Justice of the EU in cases C-330/03of 19 January 2006 "Collegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos v Administración del Estado” and C-575/11of 27 June 2013 "Eleftherios-Themistoklis Nasiopoulos v Ipourgos".

For more information:

- On the key decisions in the July 2016 infringements package, see full MEMO/16/2490.

- On the general infringement procedure, see a full MEMO/12/12 (an infograph).

- On EU infringement procedure.

IP/16/2493

Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email


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