The 2012/11/19 at 09:58
Marie Luginsland, en Allemagne
The operation goes by the name “IHK-Transparent”. At the end of the month, the IHKs (“CCIs” in German) will be launching a vast communication campaign aimed at making known their desire for transparency to their members, their different partners, as well as the general public.
This turning point in the communications policy of Chamber bodies arises at a time when compulsory membership is increasingly contested by company heads. In Germany, all businesses must systematically register with the CCI presiding wherever its headquarters are set up. This German specificity, stemming from legislation, frees the State from around fifty regulatory restrictions such as dual professional training systems or else monitoring in purely professional domains.
More recently, VSEs have rebelled against this imperative, which represents a variable weight depending on the region and the IHK.
Today, 1,300 VSEs have even joined up to form a dissident federation, the BFFK (Bundesverband für freie Kammern). Through petitions presented to the European Parliament and a complaint lodged with the European Commission, they wish to put an end to this German “exception”. In June this year, the representative of a “dissident” list managed to get elected at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Berlin.
A question of legitimacy
According to the DIHK, the transparency campaign is not a response to these criticisms but rather a way to standardise activity reports and yearly financial balance sheets across the 80 entities. A joint web portal for all IHKs will allow access to this data as well as to information on the activities of each Chamber. Visitors will be redirected to the web site of the IHK of their choice, where the following information will be presented in a standardised manner: the number of members and the sum of membership fees, the yearly activity report encompassing the number of business creations and the number of professional training programmes, the number of apprenticeship contracts, the income and expenses of the Chamber, aids for business creation, and stakes in other various companies.
Martin Wansleben, President of the DIHK, insists on pointing out that this transparency offensive is above all a new form of communication: “We wish to communicate more systematically on what we do. And notably, give an account of our past actions.” Emphasising the necessity for Chambers of Commerce to increase their visibility, he adds that “only the compulsory membership of all the businesses of a region – independently of their size and branch – can guarantee the representativeness of Chamber structures and the independence in the face of specific interests.” This, in his opinion, is the only way for businesses “to escape from State control in their professional domain as well as from bureaucratic pressures.”