Cooperatives have existed in German-speaking countries since around 1847 and are considered the most insolvency-proof legal form, thanks to internal audits by the supervisory board and external audits by an auditing association.
The cooperative idea was listed as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2016 (DATA NatuRe is represented here with a portrait).
Every cooperative is a mandatory member of a cooperative auditing association which regularly audits the economic circumstances and the proper conduct of business in the interests of its members (see § 53 GenG and articles of association § 21).
DATA NatuRe eG is a member of the Zentralverband deutscher Konsumgenossenschaften e.V. and is audited annually by the Prüfungsverband deutscher Konsum- und Dienstleistungsgenossenschaften e.V. (Auditing Association of German Consumer and Service Cooperatives).
Cooperatives are not profit-oriented and have no obligations to shareholders or stakeholders, but only to their members.
Cooperatives form a legal reserve, thus ensuring cost and financial planning (see § 33 GenG).
All members have equal rights, at the annual general meetings the principle applies: one member, one vote (see § 43 GenG and statutes § 18).
The shares (compulsory share of DATA NatuRe: 250 Euro, see articles of association § 10) are terminable and transferable. The shares are not subject to exchange rate fluctuations and cannot be seized. The members of DATA NatuRe are only liable with their credit balance, an obligation to make additional contributions is excluded (see articles of association § 11).
Members can easily join and leave the association. Members of a cooperative have a claim to repayment of their business assets when they leave the cooperative.