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What they are
By way of a consortium contract, several entrepreneurs establish a common organisation to govern and conduct certain phases of their respective businesses. The work of the consortium must therefore be carried out in the interests of member companies (so-called mutual assistance).
At a minimum, the consortium has the function of "governance" of certain phases of their businesses, while only consortia with external activity also regulate the "carrying out" of certain phases of their respective companies.
Who can take part
Participation in the consortium is reserved exclusively for entrepreneurs, whether they be natural or legal persons, and regardless of the business sector, the size or legal structure of the company. Each company participating in the consortium retains its identity and individuality, but some phases of the production process (from raw material to finished product) are governed by the rules of the group.
In consortia with external activity the organisation is destined to do business with third parties, generally involving the creation of an office which is vested with the resulting legal relations.
A consortium with external activity has no legal status, but is an autonomous centre of legal relations and has responsibility, guaranteed by the consortium's funds, for contracts stipulated in its own name, assuming the relevant risks of a non-contractual nature resulting from the operation of a business.
The purpose of the consortium can also be achieved in the form of commercial companies (partnerships, limited partnerships, limited companies, share-capital companies and limited liability companies). In that case the corporate purpose is that of a consortium but the rules of operation are those companies. It is also possible to form so-called mixed consortia, that is with the participation of "non-entrepreneurial” members whose presence is deemed essential for the realisation of the aims of the group (e.g. "supporting" members or groups representing business categories).