France, Belgium and Luxembourg face huge fines for breaking a deadline to implement the EU free establishment directive
An opinion by the Advocate General in the case against France was recently issued and a judgment is due shortly. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has heard cases relating to the three states for failing to adopt the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of EU Directive 98/5 EC. The directive was aimed at helping EU lawyers to practise in any member state under their home country professional title and take part in joint practices. It also enables lawyers to practice permanently and without restriction under their original professional title in another member state, on the same basis as the host country's own lawyers. Luxembourg has drawn up draft terms for the implementation of the Establishment Directive, which is currently being debated by its parliament. This comes more than four years after the Establish-ment Directive was introduced. The ECJ has already found against Italy for discriminating against lawyers by violating EU rules for the recognition of higher education diplomas awarded on completion of professional education and training of at least three years duration.