Almost one tenth of LI members trade overseas. Ben Brown explains whether the Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute (CMLI) accreditation will still be recognised on the continent after the UK leaves the EU

    Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash


    On 10 April 2019, the government published formal guidance for all professions: Recognition of professional qualifications: guidance for regulatory bodies.

    According to the most recent figures, 8% of Landscape Institute (LI) members trade overseas. One of the most common questions we’ve had from members in recent months is: ‘Will my LI Chartered status be recognised on the continent after Brexit?’

    There’s a complicated answer to that question, but the short answer is: technically maybe not, but in reality yes and it probably won’t matter either way. Here’s why:

    Whether EU countries continue to recognise LI chartership depends on what kind of deal we leave with.

    Theresa May’s deal, currently heading for its third vote (having already been defeated twice) does include it. ‘No deal’ does not, and would mean that EU countries would, technically, no longer recognise the LI chartered credential.

    There are also various other possible permutations:

    ScenarioNo deal‘Managed’ no dealTheresa May’s dealRemaining in the EU
    Will CMLI still be recognised in Europe after Brexit?NoProbablyYesYes

    In reality, though, it’s much more complicated. Further factors include:

    • Context: It all depends on who is doing the ‘recognising’.
    • Location: Most countries won’t see any change.
    • Definition: One person’s ‘landscape architect’ is another’s ‘town planner’, ‘urban designer’, and so on.
    • Regulation: As a trade, landscape architecture is mostly unregulated.
    • Market forces: Markets, not the EU, will ultimately decide whose work is in demand and where.

    At present, we rely on a mechanism called the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive. This is the agreement between most European countries to recognise one another’s professional qualifications.

    The MRPQ produces a giant database of jobs and qualifications in Europe. It tells us many interesting things – for instance, that the second most internationally mobile professionals are master builders. (Number one is ski instructors.)

    It also tells us that only 8 other countries recognise ‘landscape architect/designer’ as a profession. The list includes Iceland, Slovakia, and Luxembourg. The only other major market is Italy.

    So what gives? Don’t they have landscapes in France?

    Well yes, they do. (They’re called paysages.) And therein lies the answer. France has many landscape architects, one of the world’s best landscape architecture schools, and they do the same work that UK landscape professionals do. The only difference is that the Fédération Française du Paysage (FFP, aka the French LI) never told the European Commission about it.

    Unlike doctors, lawyers and architects, landscape architecture is a mostly unregulated profession. This means that most governments don’t attempt to control who does it. If a French local authority wants to hire a baker or a ballet dancer to redesign their city park, legally they probably can. (Although likely with predictable results.)

    Even if they stipulated that the appointee must hold professional FFP membership (which they should) it is for FFP to determine their membership criteria. UK landscape professionals can join FFP if they want to win contracts in France, just as French landscape professionals can join the LI if they want to work in the UK (or in other markets which use CMLI as a mark of high quality, like the middle east). None of these things is dependent upon the UK’s membership of the European Union.

    It should go without saying, but the LI has no plans to restrict its membership to UK-nationals post-Brexit. It seems unlikely that any other country will impose similar restrictions.

    There are some vanishingly niche legal situations in which this could have a theoretical impact. But compared to potentially seismic effects that Brexit could have elsewhere, they are certainly not worth worrying about.

    1. Architects have justifiably been very worried about this aspect of Brexit. The government has amended the Architects Act to provide some reassurance.
    2. Of course, we could go into a lot more detail here – for instance, how professional bodies validate candidates from overseas – but this article is just about Brexit.
    3. For example: say the MRPQ isn’t replaced, and a CMLI is thus rejected for membership by an overseas professional body in one of those 8 countries. Say that CMLI then undertakes an LVIA in said country upon which a development decision depends. Then imagine that that decision is subject to a legal challenge. The fact that an ‘unqualified’ person undertook the LVIA could, theoretically, jeopardise the decision.


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