The liberal professions play an important role in the social and economic development of many European countries. They provide jobs, contribute to economic growth and fulfil important social-welfare functions. They typically provide services that are of high importance for the performance of core state functions. These tasks carried out for the common good and in the public interest include; ensuring legal protection for citizens, ensuring the rule of law within the tax and social levy system and a functioning market economy, as well as providing health
care for the population. In all these areas, members of the liberal professions serve as particularly qualified service providers (e.g. as lawyers, auditors, accountants, engineers, medical practitioners). The general public places a great deal of trust in their activities aimed at promoting the public interest, which is why the liberal professions can also be referred to as “trust” professions.

The present study was conducted from May to October 2013, commissioned by the European Economic and Social Committee (“EESC”) and carried out by the European Centre for Liberal Professions, University of Cologne (“ECLP”). The ECLP is an independent interdisciplinary research institute of the Faculty of Law together with the Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences of the University of Cologne under the direction of Professor Dr. Martin Henssler and Professor Achim Wambach, Ph.D. It is devoted to the study of the regulation of liberal professions and their economic impact in the European Union.