Architects Take Lead in Setting Standards for Transatlantic Mutual Recognition

Washington, DC—On February 18-19, 2003, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, the American Institute of Architects, and the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE) began negotiations for a future Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) that will positively affect architects on both sides of the Atlantic. Slated for completion in mid-2004, the final Agreement will identify specific criteria and procedures for the mutual recognition of education, training, and experience standards among the participating political and economic bodies. An [initial Accord] was signed by the parties at a December 2002 meeting in Washington where objectives and basic principles were identified.

These negotiations come at a time when the World Trade Organization continues its efforts to establish a reference framework for MRAs in general. NCARB, AIA, and ACE have taken the lead in determining equivalencies for architectural services.

C. Robert Campbell, FAIA, president of NCARB, explains, “In a globalized world, the protection of the public becomes increasingly important. Thus, to ensure that practicing architects have the level of qualifications required is of utmost importance for safeguarding the quality of the built environment. This must be the highest priority for architects all over the world.”

Juhani Katainen, Hon. AIA, past president of ACE, and Gordon H. Chong, FAIA, past president of AIA, also note that current negotiations are aimed at guaranteeing the parties involved will work intensely to promote the highest standards for architects within their respective constituencies on both sides of the Atlantic.

As defined by current discussions, the MRA will enable an architect who is duly licensed by a U.S. jurisdiction to be recognized as an architect in any EU Member State. In turn, the MRA will enable an architect meeting the requirements of EU Directive 85/384/EEC in any Member State of the European Union to be recognized as an architect throughout the United States.

Officials from both the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Trade Directorate of the European Commission and the EU Member States have been continuously apprised of ongoing negotiations. The finalized MRA will be transmitted to these entities. At that point, the objective will be to officially make binding the MRA and to include it in the Transatlantic Economic Partnership (TEP) or any future agreement between the relevant political entities.

For additional information about ongoing discussions concerning the Transatlantic Mutual Recognition of architects, contact: NCARB’s Michiel M. Bourdrez, AIA, Director, Professional Services (202/879-0535); AIA’s Ellen Delage, Director, International Relations (202/626-7415); and ACE’s Alain Sagne (Tel. 322 543 11 40).