Enterprises, State-owned, in Austria: serve the public economic interests; formerly also summary term referring to all enterprises run by the Federal government, the provinces or the municipalities as well as to the cooperatives. In a different sense, the German term "Gemeinwirtschaft" refers to an economic system similar to a planned economy, with special regard to publicly owned capital goods. Especially on the municipal level many important public duties can only be carried out by means of enterprises serving the public economic interests. The market economy tries to minimize the number of such enterprises and prefers privately organized enterprises.
Since the 16th century enterprises serving the public economic interests have existed particularly in large municipalities (such as brick factories, cemeteries, baths, etc.) The following enterprises have been put under municipal administration in Vienna: the water mains network that is supplied with Alpine spring water, gas works and power stations (after 1900), tram network and undertakers. During the 1st Republic Community Housing was of great importance. In the 2nd Republic this activity has largely been organized by co-operatives serving public economic well-being ( Housing Promotion). Today all major municipalities are provided with local utilities (waste disposal, lighting, etc.), public baths and recreation areas. In recent times there has been a tendency towards privatization, especially in the field of waste disposal. The importance of nationalised industry, previously part of the social economy, for the municipalities has diminished due to large-scale privatization. Special legal entities are used to guarantee publicly owned enterprises a smooth transition to market economy conditions, as in the case of the "Oesterreichische Bundesbahnen" (Austrian Federal Railways) and the postal service ( Post und Telekom Austria AG). Local government law of the Austrian provinces allows the municipalities only business activities that serve public economic well-being or the public interest.
Literature#R. Gruenwald, Handwoerterbuch der oesterreichischen Gemeinwirtschaft, 1984.