Austria Table of Contents
The major participants in the Austrian economy are represented in national economic policy determination by a number of official and voluntary organizations. The most important of these are the chambers of commerce, agriculture, and labor. These are public corporations legally responsible for the representation of the interests of their constituent groups. Because of their legal and official status, membership in the chambers is compulsory for all enterprises, farmers, and wage and salary earners. There are also specialized chambers in various professional fields and in some provinces for agricultural workers, although these chambers are not as important in the operation of the economy.
The chambers function as semipublic bodies with broad responsibilities. For example, before the government can present any draft legislation to parliament, the bill must be sent for appraisal by the chambers. The chambers are organized so that they fully represent each of the appropriate professional and other groups involved in their particular sector of the economy. Because of Austria's relatively small size, the chambers constitute instruments for contact and exchange of information at every level of the economy. Therefore, they not only function as pressure groups from the outer reaches of the economy toward the center but also as communication belts that relay the decisions from the center to the regions.
Several other important voluntary organizations also play significant roles in economic policy decisions. These include the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund--ÖGB), an umbrella organization representing labor; the works councils that represents labor in enterprises; and the Federation of Austrian Industrialists (Vereinigung Österreichischer Industrieller--VÖI), representing management.
Data as of December 1993