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.