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In March 2000, the Lisbon European Council adopted a programme for economic reform, the aim of which was to make the European Union (EU) the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010. Since then, the commission has homed in on the regulation of professional services, given the crucial role the sector could play in helping to achieve this goal. In particular, in March 2003 the EC Competition Directorate General invited comments on regulation in the EU member states, and in October of the same year published a summary of the responses together with the results of its own ‘stocktaking’ exercise.

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