As of 01 January 2017, membership in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia will be mandatory for all commercial entities on the territory of the Republic of Serbia. The mandatory membership implies the duty to pay a unique membership fee.
The new Law on Chambers of Commerce (the Law) authorizes the Assembly of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia to define the amount and conditions for membership fee payment (the decision is expected in December), with a duty to adhere to the following principles and criteria:
- Economic strength of members;
- Equality of regional development;
- Solidarity among members, and
- Rationality and economy in operations of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia.
The newly established commercial entities will be released from duty of paying the membership fee in the first year following the day of their establishment. We draw the attention that branches and representative offices of foreign commercial entities should not be mandatory members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia as they lack the capacity of a legal person; hence they should not be obliged to pay the unique membership fee.
To conclude with, it remains to be seen how the membership will fee be defined, as well as the expectation that new chambers system will justify mandatory memberships through concrete contents, services and work on establishing better business environment for all commercial entities.
In terms of other novelties brought in by the Law, it makes a turning point in relation to the previously effective voluntary chambers system, by establishing two chamber association principles which now coexist in parallel:
- The principle of mandatory membership, in a chamber system defined by law (which consists of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and chambers of commerce of the Autonomous Provinces), and
- The voluntary, i.e. contractual principle (voluntary foundation of chambers by at least 100 commercial entities).
Contractual chambers of commerce can become collective members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia.
Separate organizations with capacity of legal persons which form the chambers system under the law are the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and chambers of commerce of Autonomous Provinces. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia establishes, as its organizational parts, the chamber of commerce for the capital city as well as regional chambers of commerce (for the territory of one or more administrative districts).
The chambers of commerce have their own property and can acquire it through performing economic activities on the market. Accordingly, the Law sets out that at the date of its effectiveness the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and chambers of commerce of Autonomous Provinces acquire ownership on real estate in public property, where they are registered as holders of the right of use or other property right. The property is transferred to them only for the purpose of conducting their activities, while in case of termination of work of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia real estate will be reinstated to public property.