Cooperative: types, organs, rights and obligations

Die Genossenschaft ist eine Gesellschaft mit nicht geschlossener Mitgliederzahl, die die Förderung des Erwerbs oder der Wirtschaft ihrer Mitglieder (Genossen) mittels eines gemeinschaftlichen Geschäftsbetriebes bezweckt, ohne dass diese persönlich für die Verbindlichkeiten der Gesellschaft haften (legal person).
The legal basis is the law on economic cooperatives (GenG) of 05/01/1989 with changes (last time 09/10/1973).

Establishing a cooperative

The company is founded by drawing up a statute (statute), electing the management board, the supervisory board and the auditor, as well as registering the cooperative at the responsible local court in the cooperative register by the founders (at least seven people). The cooperative is only created through registration (mold merchant). The company must be a company with the addition of “registered cooperative” or “eG”.

Membership in an existing cooperative can be acquired by both natural and legal persons and requires a written declaration of membership. Membership only becomes effective when it is entered in the list of comrades kept at the registry court.

The resignation of a comrade must be declared in writing with a notice period of at least 3 months to the end of the year.

Types of cooperatives

The following cooperatives are distinguished according to their tasks.

  • Consumer cooperatives handle bulk purchases and resale of goods to comrades and other consumers
  • Purchasing cooperatives buy large quantities of goods needed by the comrades
  • Credit unions grant cheap loans and do other banking for comrades and other customers
  • Sales cooperatives take over the sale and utilization of agricultural products in particular, e.g. B. in the wine or dairy industry
  • Building cooperatives organize the construction of residential houses with rights of use or pre-emptive rights for the comrades

Capital of a cooperative

The comrades hold shares in the cooperative. You have to deposit a minimum deposit of 10% on it, but you are liable with the business share. The business credit of a comrade is the amount that is actually paid up by him on his share, increased by unpaid profits, reduced by any losses.

Organs of the cooperative

The board of directors is the governing body of the company. It consists of at least two comrades who are appointed by the general assembly. In principle, the members of the board of directors only have overall power of representation for management and representation.

The board of directors is the controlling body. It consists of at least three comrades and is elected by the general assembly. The provisions of the BetrVG of 1952 or the Codetermination Act also apply to the cooperative's supervisory board.

The General Assembly is the decision-making body of the cooperative. A specialty compared to the AGM of the AG is the voting by head, not by shares. This arrangement ensures that the interests of each comrade are equally taken into account.

Rights and duties of the comrades

The comrades have a duty:

  • to make the payment (according to the statute) on the acquired business share; -to make limited or unlimited additional payments in the event of bankruptcy, provided the statute provides for such
  • to observe the provisions of the statutes and the resolutions of the general assembly
  • The comrades have the right:

    • to use the facilities of the cooperative
    • to attend the general assembly
    • to convene the general assembly
    • to receive their profit
    • to have their business credit paid out after leaving the company


    The importance of the cooperative lies in the fact that people who cannot achieve certain goals on their own or can only achieve them with difficulty can produce, buy and sell more economically through the merger as a large enterprise. The principle of solidarity distinguishes the cooperative considerably from the classic corporations, even if certain objective objectives and the appearance on the market can be similar.

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