Towards a European framework
At present environmental professionals in each country are recognised (or not recognised) by their own regulatory system. The European Federation of Environmental Professionals (EFEP) was established in 1988 and one of its prime objectives is to harmonise these systems and to encourage the establishment of professional associations in those countries where environmental professionals are not organised.
The EC has promoted initiatives aimed at the reciprocal recognition of professions after 1992, and their Directive 89/48 makes it obligatory for ‘regulated professions’. They have shown particular concern about the need for qualified staff to carry out environmental impact assessments under the EC Directive 85/337. However, environmental professionals are perhaps the most difficult of all the professional sectors to define; indeed, to be a good environmental professional means working in a multidisciplinary manner.
The Federation is composed of professional associations in nine European countries, together with a small number of individual members. It is a non-profit-making association registered in France under the Law of 1901. It has a Board of Management with two representatives from each country, and in its turn each country is establishing its own national committee of EFEP to bring together professional associations covering the environmental field. It has adopted a common code of ethics, and requires members of each professional association to have suitable tertiary level education and experience in their particular environmental field. However, like the EC itself, subsidiarity is a key principle in the organisation. The Federation does not pretend to take on the role of each national association or committee.
There is a wide variety of national cultures in the EFEP member associations. Table 22.1 gives an idea of the character of the associations in each country.