Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Chambers of Commerce (abbreviation IHK ; English Chamber of Commerce and Industry , shortly CCI ) are organized regional, cross-industry associations of entrepreneurs and business enterprises.
In Germany, the chambers of industry and commerce are a professional body under public law . They include companies in a region. All tradespeople and companies with the exception of pure handicraft businesses , farmers and freelancers (who are not registered in the commercial register) belong to them by law. In Germany there are 79 chambers of industry and commerce that are responsible for regions of different sizes. They take on the self-administration of the regional economy. The basis regulates the law for the provisional regulation of the law of the chambers of industry and commerce .
In Switzerland there are 19 cantonal chambers of commerce organized as an association . In Belgium and Liechtenstein there are chambers of commerce, while in Austria Chamber of Commerce plays a similar role.
The history of the chambers of industry and commerce, which was based on the idea of self-help through merging, goes back to the Middle Ages. From the 19th century, the facilities were also used for the first time to fulfill public tasks.
History in Germany
The first interest groups for merchants emerged as early as the 17th century when the Commerzdeputation was founded in Hamburg in 1665, initiated by the assembly of an honorable merchant in Hamburg, which has existed since 1517 . In 1675 the Lübeck Board of Commerce was founded . Around 1710 , the princely Commercien-Cammer was set up in Kassel based on the example of the Spanish consulados , which first existed in Valencia in 1283 , and the French Conseil de Commerce , which had existed since 1664 . The Board of Commerce was later founded in Cologne , a predecessor institution of the Cologne Chamber of Commerce and Industry founded in 1797 .
The factual first establishment of a "German Chamber of Commerce" of modern character took place in 1830 with the approval of the new status of the Chamber of Commerce of Elberfeld and Barmen (today's Chamber of Commerce and Industry Wuppertal-Solingen-Remscheid ), which arose in Germany's first major industrial center. It was not organized according to the system of chambers of commerce enforced under French occupation, but for the first time granted entrepreneurs the right to regulate their affairs independently and to choose their representatives themselves. This model, which was intended to represent the interests of the district's economy as a whole and to advise administration and politics on all economic issues, quickly became the model for Prussian and later all-German chamber legislation.
As early as 1848, a Prussian regulation on the establishment of chambers of commerce followed (pr. HKVO of February 11, 1848). In 1870 the chamber of commerce law was unified (pr. HKG of February 24, 1870).
The previous chambers of commerce have been called chambers of industry and commerce since 1920.
During the Nazi era - 1933 to 1945 - the chambers of industry and commerce were restructured according to the Führer principle and gradually deprived of their self-governing function. Like the chambers of crafts, they were renamed Gau chambers of commerce and integrated into the state economic control.
After the end of the war, the military administration in the American zone of occupation rejected the compulsory membership of traders in the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
It was the same in the bizone . In the course of the establishment of the Länder, it was determined in many Länder that the IHKs should be equal institutions. The occupying powers exercised their right of veto.
At the end of 1956 the law for the provisional regulation of the law of the chambers of industry and commerce was passed as a federal law (IHKG of December 18, 1956). The federal government exercised its competence in competing legislation ; thus diverging models in the federal states were ruled out and a nationwide regulation was made.
History in Switzerland
The oldest IHK in Switzerland is the St.Gallen-Appenzell Chamber of Commerce and Industry , whose origins go back to the Notenstein Society , first mentioned in 1448 . Industrialization and changes in the course of the establishment of the state in 1848 led to the establishment of further chambers of commerce, mainly in the period from 1860 to 1920.
Organization in Germany
Administration and construction
The general manager, who is appointed by the general assembly, is responsible for the administrative tasks. The general assembly elections take place every three to six years. Each member company receives one vote and each company can put up a candidate for election. The companies are then divided into electoral groups according to their industries, depending on the size of the IHK and the region. The number of seats in an electoral group is not proportional to the number of its member companies.
Before each election, a committee determines the future allocation of seats and submits it to the outgoing general assembly for approval. The General Assembly can elect further (non-elected) members to the General Assembly by co-opting or "indirect election".
The plenary assembly meets several times a year and decides on the IHK's work priorities, finances and fundamental matters. In total, there are around 5,000 plenary assembly members at the 79 chambers of industry and commerce in Germany. Honorary members who are not elected and who do not have voting rights, as well as the general manager and his deputy, can also take part in the general assembly.
Mitglieder │ │ wählen V Vollversammlung ┌────────────┬────┴────────────┬────────────┬────────────────────┬──────────────────┐ │ bestellt │ wählt │ wählt │ kooptiert │ wählt │ beschließt │ V V V V │ │ Präsidium Präsidenten weitere Mitglieder Wahlgruppen-Ausschuss │ │ │ zur Vollversammlung │ │ │ │ schlägt vor │ bestimmt │ V V V V Hauptgeschäftsführer Sitzverteilung der kommenden Wahl
The chambers of industry and commerce are divided into the following business areas:
- Location policy
- Representation of the general interests of the regional economy towards politics, administration and the public, e.g. B. through comments on legislative projects, influencing planning processes such as development and zoning plans, economic reports, publication of economic statistics
- Business start-ups and business support
- Business start-up advice, succession advice, implementation of start-up days, maintenance of start-up and company databases
- Initial and continuing education
- Training and further training advice, implementation of further training and examinations (preparation of nationwide IHK test certificates ), development of training and further training concepts
- Innovation and the environment
- Innovation and funding advice, maintenance of technology and recycling exchanges and databases
- Issuance of certificates of origin and carnets , implementation of country days, foreign trade training, delegation trips and trade fair participation abroad, business partner brokerage
- Law and taxes
- Legal advice, prosecution of competition violations, appointment of experts, keeping a list of debtors
- Staff area
- Self-administration, personnel department, collection of membership fees
In part, the chambers carry out the tasks in their own name and in part in specially founded companies and associations.
Interests and topics
As independent, self -governing bodies under public law, the chambers of commerce and industry represent the interests of their associated companies vis-à-vis municipalities , state governments and regional government agencies. They are only subject to the legal supervision of the country. They perform the following tasks for their respective region:
- Perception of the overall interests of the traders belonging to them in their district
- Promotion of the commercial economy, whereby the economic interests of individual branches of industry or companies are to be considered in a balancing and balancing manner ( lobby of the regional economy)
- Securing fair competition
- Working towards the preservation of the decency and customs of the honorable businessman
- Comprehensive service and support / advice for member companies
- Public appointment and swearing-in of experts
- Preparation of expert opinions for courts and authorities (e.g. with regard to company names)
- Issuance of certificates of origin and other certificates serving commercial transactions (e.g. Carnets in foreign trade)
- Certification of commercial invoices
- Opinion on UK applications (indispensable applications )
- Granting permission to broker insurance
- Supervision and promotion of commercial and industrial vocational training, especially in compliance with the Vocational Training Act
- Implementation of advanced and advanced training courses with recognized IHK degrees, e.g. B. Training to become a commercial specialist
- The tasks of the chambers of industry and commerce do not include the perception of socio-political and labor law interests.
In contrast to other business organizations, the IHK organization represents the overall economic interests of all business enterprises it represents. The chambers of industry and commerce are run by the private sector, with companies subject to statutory membership. 3.6 million commercial companies are members of an IHK.
On behalf of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Chambers of Commerce Abroad, DIHK-Bildungs-GmbH develops the products and services for vocational training and further education, which are implemented regionally by the IHKs, and sets the national standards together with experts from the field. This includes, among other things, teaching and learning materials for IHK exam preparation, learning progress controls for IHK course participants, development of digital learning media and apps, marketing aids for vocational training, nationwide advanced training exams, nationwide technical and specialist examinations, practical training with IHK certificate , development of IHK -Certificate courses, seminars and workshops for employees of the IHK / AHK / DIHK organization.
Membership, double membership
Membership: The Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as long as they are assessed for trade tax , includes natural persons, trading companies, other majorities and legal entities under private and public law who maintain an operating facility in the district of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. They are referred to as members of the chamber .
Double membership: Some companies are members of both the IHK and the Chamber of Crafts , so-called mixed companies. This is mostly caused by the fact that the craft businesses (part A and part B of the appendix to the HwO ) have a trading business, for example a car dealership: This company is a member of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce with the share that sells new and used cars, i.e. trades. Due to his activity as a manual vehicle maintenance and repair company but - with his workshop - also a member of the HWK. The obligation to contribute to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce is tied to a lower turnover limit for mixed companies. Handicraft-like mixed businesses (in Part B2 of the appendix to the HwO) generally only belong to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, if the handicraft-like business part predominates, double membership exists.
The IHK contributions consist of a basic contribution and a contribution. The basic contribution is graded according to income. Higher yields lead to higher loads in absolute terms, but lower in percentage terms.
Natural persons and partnerships not entered in the commercial register do not pay any contribution if the income is less than 5200 euros. Even start-ups remain free of charge for two years when they become self-employed for the first time. In the third and fourth year, the basic fee is only charged if the income is less than 25,000 euros.
The IHK plenary assemblies determine the contributions of their region in the budget and economic statutes. The decisive factor is the sum of the basic contribution and the assessment rate , which differs depending on the IHK. Companies with a profit of € 10,000 pay between 1.0% ( IHK Frankfurt am Main , status 2010) and 2.3% ( IHK Cologne and IHK Schwerin, 2010). Companies with a profit of 2.8 million euros pay between 0.114% ( IHK Düsseldorf , 2010) and 0.646% ( IHK Potsdam , 2010).
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Tasks of an IHK
According to the legislation, the tasks of the chambers of industry and commerce consist of two complexes:
- 1. "Representation of the commercial economy towards the state" and
- 2. "Performing administrative tasks in the economic field".
With the "contributions of the member companies, the IHKs want to secure the economic independence of their IHK from individual interests and against state influence".
The public appointment and swearing-in of experts is one of the tasks of the IHK. In the area of financial property valuation, however, this has largely been replaced by the EU personal certification standard.
The IHK is the body responsible for vocational training in non-manual trades within the meaning of the Vocational Training Act (see Section 71 BBiG).
The criticism of the chambers of industry and commerce goes, among other things. a. by its members themselves, but is also supported by prominent economic experts such as the former BDI President Hans-Olaf Henkel , who says: “This type of state paternalism only exists in Germany. We should leave it to the entrepreneurs themselves whether they want to use the services of the chambers of commerce or not. ”Criticism is also evident in media reports, initiatives on the Internet and complaints by members against the Chamber of Commerce. The most frequent points of criticism are: the compulsory membership, the permanent expansion of the efficiency of the IHK, the lack of democratic co-determination, nepotism and the lack of transparency. Organizations of IHK critics are the IHK rebels and z. B. the Federal Association for Free Chambers (BffK), the initiative We are the chamber , the ProKMU initiative and the Kaktus initiative.
For compulsory membership
The compulsory membership , which excludes companies from leaving the IHK, is criticized , even if the IHK is in competition with its compulsory members with its offers in further and advanced training. Companies cannot choose which IHK they want to belong to.
In a judgment of June 23, 2010, the German Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG) states: "Compulsory associations are only permitted if they serve public tasks and their establishment is proportionate to these tasks." a membership differentiates qualitatively between the terms duty and compulsion , which in this respect corresponds to the assessment of the obligatory IHK membership as "compulsory membership" by its critics.
In a judgment (1 BvR 2222/12 | 1 BvR 1106/13) of July 12, 2017, the German Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) states: “The mandatory membership in chambers of commerce and industry is not objectionable under constitutional law. The First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court has confirmed this and rejected constitutional complaints from two members of the Chamber. […] The involvement in the chambers of industry and commerce by way of compulsory membership is justified. The tasks standardized in § 1 IHKG correspond to the combination of representation of interests, promotion and administrative tasks that is typical for economic self-administration, which the Federal Constitutional Court has already seen several times as a legitimate purpose for compulsory membership. Compulsory membership in particular ensures that all those affected regionally can contribute their interests and that these are represented competently. This is also important with a view to the further tasks of the chambers of industry and commerce, to conduct examinations and issue certificates. "
To the tasks
In the opinion of their critics, the IHKs are moving away from their statutory tasks by founding subsidiaries and associations and by making statements on socio-political, educational, energy-political, supra-regional and international issues. In the opinion of the critics, the organization of receptions, honors and award ceremonies is also not one of the tasks of self-government in the economy.
To the contributions
Critics often find the IHK contributions too high. Furthermore, the assessment rates for the contribution contribution should differ from one another by a factor of eight across Germany, which is criticized as distorting competition.
Lately, individual IHKs have been accused of mismanagement and lack of transparency; members' contributions would be used for high pensions and controversial real estate projects.
To voter turnout
The low turnout has been criticized. It is always below 20% (IHK election Berlin: participation of 4.5%). 77 of the 80 IHKs avoid the publication of the number of votes of the candidates after the election and around 50 IHKs do not mention the turnout in the election results. Critics thus justify doubts about the legitimacy of the General Assembly and the offices and bodies occupied by it.
On the electoral order and democratic principles
Critics point out that the electoral regulations, by dividing them into electoral groups for the various sectors, give the votes different weights. This difference in the weight of votes contradicts the basic democratic principle of electoral equality .
In a dissertation commissioned by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), the head of the Civil Law and Legal Department of the DIHK, Christian Groß, states that the IHK elections “are not subject to the scope and application of the principle of democracy”.
The Berlin Administrative Court contradicted this in 2011 : “The Representative Assembly, as an organ of a self-governing body, is a legislative organ and is therefore also committed to the principle of democracy. This also results in a bond with the principles of mirror image and discontinuity. "
Voters can only choose between candidates from their constituency. The general assembly is complemented by a majority vote after the elections by means of co-optation without control by the voters, which can weaken minorities in the assembly. The honorary members of the general assembly are also appointed without the consent of the IHK members. Critics see a restriction on democratic participation in these points.
German companies that have business relationships with Austria are supported in Austria by the German Chamber of Commerce in Austria . The DHK belongs to the network of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
As an association under private law, the Liechtenstein Chamber of Commerce and Industry voluntarily represents the interests of the larger Liechtenstein industrial companies, three banks and some service companies.
In Switzerland, 18 cantonal and regional chambers of commerce perform the tasks. Together with the Liechtenstein Chamber of Commerce and Industry, they are combined in the Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SIHK). In contrast to other countries, there is no compulsory membership for companies in Switzerland. By far the oldest chamber of commerce in Switzerland is the St.Gallen-Appenzell Chamber of Commerce and Industry , whose origins go back to the 15th century.
The Eupen-Malmedy-St.Vith Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK Eupen) is organized with the employers' association in the German-speaking Community of Belgium (aved) within the framework of a joint secretariat for East Belgium . The IHK Eupen comprises 420 member companies from the fields of industry, trade and services. It has the legal status of a non-profit making association .
There are a total of 14 chamber districts in Belgium. All Belgian chambers of commerce can be found in the list of chambers of commerce and industry in Belgium .
In France , these tasks are carried out by the chambres de commerce et d'industrie (CCI). For these see the list of chambers of commerce and industry in France .
In Great Britain the local chambers of industry and commerce are grouped under the umbrella organization British Chambers of Commerce.
In Italy the counterpart to the IHK is the Camera di commercio (Chamber of Commerce), z. B. in South Tyrol the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Crafts and Agriculture Bozen .
In Lithuania , five regional chambers of industry, commerce and craft are combined in the Association of Lithuanian Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Crafts . The largest chamber is the Vilnius prekybos, pramonės ir amatų rūmai (founded in 1925) with around 400 members. There is no compulsory membership.
In the Netherlands , the Kamer van Koophandel performs these tasks.
The Câmera de Comércio e Indústria de Timor-Leste (CCI-TL) has existed in East Timor since 2010 .
In the USA , the US Chamber of Commerce , founded in 1912 with headquarters in Washington and approximately 3 million members, forms an umbrella organization for companies, business associations, chambers of commerce of the states and local chambers of commerce as well as for the US chambers of commerce abroad. It is the largest chamber of commerce in the world.
Other countries: The type of membership and areas of responsibility in other countries can be found in printed matter 13/1664 of the Baden-Württemberg state parliament.
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