Chimney sweeps free to fire up competition

Some 20,000 German chimney sweeps will have to get used to more competition after the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament that represents Germany's 16 federal states, voted unanimously to pass a parliamentary resolution relaxing regulations on Friday.

Chimney sweeps free to fire up competition
Question: which is cooler, this or the Abbey Road album cover? Photo: DPA

Up till now, only one chimney sweep served a district until he or she retired, but now they will be able to compete for business in any place they like. The new rule is in response to an EU Commission case against Germany over the former restrictions, which it said prevented the freedom to render services provided for by EU law.

The new rule will end the monopoly on chimney sweep districts in 2010, after which the Schornsteinfeger, as they are called in Germany, will be free to advertise. Districts will then choose their chimney sweep, who will be assigned there for seven years, instead of a lifetime.

However, those chimney sweeps who are currently employed by a district can keep their posts until 2014 without taking part in the new competition.