Independent professionals – also known as iPros or freelancers – are highly skilled self-employed workers, without employees, who are engaged in activities of an intellectual nature and/or work within the service sector (as opposed to the farming, craft or retail sectors). Although iPros are a growing phenomenon in the European labour market, they are not directly regulated by European legislation. However, Directive 2005/36/EC aimed to ensure that professional qualifications would be recognised among EU Member States in order to guarantee the right to free movement to those supplying services as self-employed persons.
The traditional framework of employment relations, based on the collective negotiation between organisations representing the employees’ interests and the employers and their associations, does not strictly apply to the employment situation of independent professionals. However, over the last decade, iPros have started to organise themselves through new forms of association set up specifically for independent professionals. Such organisations include the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) in the United Kingdom, Verband der Gründer und Selbstständigen Deutschland e.V. (VGSD) in Germany, Associazione Consulenti del Terziario Avanzato (ACTA) in Italy, FEDIPRO vzw in Belgium, Asociatia Freelancerilor (AF) in Romania, SSa in Poland and Croatian Independent Professionals Association (CIPA) in Croatia.