Guilds from around the world
The ESCHFOE - Origins and development
"The unity of Europe was a dream held by few. It became a hope for many. Today it is a necessity for all." These words were spoken by none other than Konrad Adenauer, who recognised very early on the significance that the European Union had and would come to have for the member states.
When he said these words, they represented prudent foresight; now they are a visible reality. National regulations are becoming noticeably less significant, whilst the European Community – which, with the passing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, became the European Union – now has responsibilities in non-economic political spheres too. Several reform treaties, the most recent example being the Lisbon Treaty, have seen the supranational influence be continuously extended, whilst the common institutions have been gradually democratised.
Europe has had a noticeable influence on the chimney sweeping industry at all levels too. Whether through the standardisation of products and procedures or even legal regulations; national interests are fading in comparison with the laws and guidelines of the EU.
Against this background, it is reassuring to know that, as early as 1954, representatives of the chimney sweeping trade from Denmark, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany met together in Stockholm for the first time after the war to discuss the problems of the profession and to reach an agreement regarding a permanent collaboration of the countries. This meeting, which was hosted by the National Association of the Swedish Chimney Sweeping Trade, resulted in the formation of the European Federation of Chimney Sweeps (ESCHFOE).
Initially, the six founding members formed the core of the European Federation of Chimney Sweeps, but in 1955, these nations were joined by the National Association of the Austrian Chimney Sweeping Trade. When it was first founded, the ESCHFOE executive committee comprised Mr Lang (Sweden), Mr Trappmann (Germany) and Mr Flynderse (Denmark). In the beginning, the effective work of the ESCHFOE was considerably impaired by the vast differences between the individual countries in terms of the general professional principles (freedom of trade, communalisation); however, the individual member states had a strong desire to support the members of the profession. The aim was to achieve as standardised a set of professional principles and aims as possible with the proviso that the reputation of the chimney sweeping trade in Europe be improved, its necessity highlighted, and suitable remuneration ensured.
Over the years, the ESCHFOE has become an increasingly valuable instrument in the fostering of international relations and maintaining contact between its various member organisations. As a result of this, the federation contributes to a continuous improvement of the mutual understanding between the member countries. The meetings, which the federation regularly organises for its members, are always a welcome opportunity for the associations to exchange experiences. Legal issues regarding the trade, as well as technical knowledge and progress, are discussed; whilst topics such as training and the continuation of the profession and future occupational fields, and questions concerning tariffs, also feature heavily at these meetings. However, despite the exhaustive talks and discussions, many problems have remained unresolved due to the massive differences in the structures within the participating countries.
During the federation's meeting in June 1966 in Paris, the first charter for the ESCHFOE was concluded. Since then, this charter has been continuously developed, and the purpose of the association has been defined as follows:
1. To support the training of European chimney sweeps, using the European training programme as a basis for this;
2. To support the member organisations in the fulfilment of their roles, in particular in the field of training and skill enhancement, as well as in schooling and knowledge exchange between companies;
3. To promote scientific research related to chimney sweeping;
4. To maintain relationships with the executive and law-making powers, and with partners in the labour market; to ensure that the members of the federation are represented by the institutions and organs of the European Union; to submit recommendations and suggestions; to brief the members of the public affected;
5. To develop and implement adapted measures in order to secure and develop the profession in the age of the realisation of the single European market;
6. To brief members about the consequences of the realisation of the single European market for the chimney sweep trade associations.
From the initial six founding members, the federation now stands as a strong amalgamation comprising a total of twenty-one member states and two guest member states. As such, almost all European states are now members of the ESCHFOE, and there has already been a successful bridging to the USA and Turkey too. As a result, with the ESCHFOE, the chimney sweeping trade has strong representation in Europe and the world. The ESCHFOE has been registered in Belgian law, and has a head office in Brussels. The General Secretariat has been based in Germany, in the offices of the German Association for the Chimney Sweeping Trade, for many years now.
The present members of the ESCHFOE are:
|- Belgium||- Poland|
|- Denmark||- Romania|
|- Germany||- Sweden|
|- Estonia||- Switzerland|
|- Finland||- Serbia|
|- Great Britain||- Slovakia|
|- Italy||- Slovenia|
|- Luxembourg||- Czech Republic|
|- Netherlands||- Turkey|
|- Norway||- Hungary|
As guest member states:
The ESCHFOE has to persuade customers that the examination and cleaning work carried out by a chimney sweep is necessary. In addition, Europe’s citizens must be convinced of the advantages of having a chimney. A chimney brings people comfort and safety. It is a key prerequisite when an energy source needs to be changed or when a heating system needs to be updated in line with new developments. It is also decisive for securing the value of a house. The chimney must be serviced in order to guarantee the customer’s safety, for the purposes of preventative fire protection, to protect the environment and to ensure that the chimney is in good working order.
It is important that we form associations and work together to make our interests known. We need the ESCHFOE, so that as a union of our trade, we can have a voice in Europe. Far-sighted decisions and the unity of the whole trade will help to ensure that the ESCHFOE is a success.
Sankt Augustin, 20th July 2011
Estonia (Please click here for more information)
Chamber of Estonian Chimney Sweepers was created in 2005 with a purpose to unite and represent enterprises and specialists active in the field of heating system cleaning and maintenance. Although the organisation was founded only a few years ago Estonian chimney sweeps have a long tradition behind them - in 2009 the chimney sweeps celebrated 320 years in active service of the citizens.
The mission of the Chamber is to protect the legitimate economic interests of its members and develop chimney sweep professional skills and work safety.
The Chamber of Estonian Chimney Sweepers is acting as an agent for its members at several state agencies and representing their interests in the legislative process. The Chamber and its members are actively participating in the fire prevention campaigns of Estonian Rescue board and promoting proper use and maintenance of heating systems. The Chamber is organising initial training and further training courses for chimney sweeps in Estonia both independently and in co-operation with vocational schools.
The Chamber is also represented in the vocational standard work group at the Estonian Qualification Authority with the goal of keeping the vocational standard for chimney sweeps up to date.
The Chamber of Estonian Chimney Sweepers has been a a member of ESCHFOE since 2009. ESCHFOE membership has given us good contacts with chimney sweepers in neighbouring countries and provided great opportunities to learn from them.
Luxembourg (Please click here for more information)
The Luxemburgish chimney sweeps and chimney sweeps-shirkers guild was established on the 5th May 1977 at the Luxemburgish Chamber of Trade with Mr Jean Theisen elected as the first president for the period from 1977 till 1994. Since 2003, it is Mr Fred Becker who leads the presidency of the federation.
The association of chimney sweeps and chimney sweeps-shirkers of Luxemburg has the following objectives:
1. To serve as permanent link between her members and to develop the spirit of the professional honour as well as to promote the solidarity between the nationals of the same profession or the similar, related or similar occupations;
2. To advise her members and to defend them on the national level or international by all the means considered adequate to the professional, economic and social public interests of her members and their businesses from which they stand out.
The Luxemburgish Guild joined the International Association of Sweeps and Chimney (Eschfö) in 1983 during their annual general assembly, taking place the same year in Luxemburg. The Luxemburgish Guild also joined the VEUKO in 2002 during their annual "Five-Country-Meeting" taking place in Luxemburg.