The 2012/03/07 at 06:45
Valérie Demon, à Madrid
Spanish Chambers of Commerce and Industry have found themselves in an unusual situation since the end of 2010 when the surprise decree of the previous government deprived them of their financing by abolishing compulsory membership fees payable by businesses (60% of their budget). In 2011, membership fees were still payable, but in 2012, only businesses producing over 10 million euros in turnover are obliged to pay. In this way, for over a year, CCIs have had to adapt, namely by retrenching staff. But they must now show innovation and imagination to ensure their futures.
Negotiations with the new Popular Party government seem to be well underway, according to a CCI source. A new bill or law may be ready for mid-2012. The CCIs will apparently remain public establishments and a series of roles will be attributed to them, such as internationalisation and training. But as far as financing goes, establishments are bracing themselves to operate with a system where businesses will need to volunteer to pay fees. Other possible sources of financing: fee-paying services provided to businesses or management on behalf of local, regional or even national administrative bodies.
To get there, it is necessary to motivate businesses, to convince them that their CCI serves a purpose. The Chamber of Commerce of the region of La Rioja, already active, is not losing any time. It has already managed to capture 1,500 businesses and is aiming for 2,000 this year. “For the moment, these companies do not pay membership fees, but know that they will have to do so from 2013 onwards,” explains the General Manager Florencio Nicolás. The sum, to be set by the Upper Council of CCIs, is to be modest.
To continue to win over businesses, the CCI of La Rioja has strengthened its network of international branches. “We are continuing to develop agreements with countries interesting for our businesses so that they may have access to a contact,” declares Florencio Nicolás. The CCI of La Rioja is also introducing new services, namely to manage possible international debts. “Unfortunately, with the crisis, outstanding debts are growing. We are participating in the search for amicable solutions to avoid court proceedings,” assures the General Manager. Another innovation: the signing of a collaboration agreement with the Clarke, Modet & Co firm to guarantee the protection of the intellectual property rights of companies in La Rioja, in Spain as well as overseas.
“On certain markets, the calculation of CO2 emissions is also becoming necessary; we are going to take care of this for companies in need of the service,” adds the General Manager. The CCI is also going to launch “à la carte” training courses according to business needs. Finally, the structure offers businesses certain benefits if they pay membership fees, with discounts for telephone subscriptions, insurance or patents.