PRINCIPAL ECONOMIC INTEREST GROUPS
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