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What is the Forum

The Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce is an Association born in 2001 that joins the Chambers of Commerce from the coastal areas of the Adriatic and Ionian basin
The Associations’ purpose is to promote the economic development of the Adriatic and Ionian area, to strengthen the relationships among the Chambers of Commerce of transborder Countries, to encourage the juridical and administrative cooperation harmonising the procedures among the Countries, to spread business and entrepreneurial culture through the involvement of all the actors within the territory.
The strategic goal of the Forum is to help a process of growth within the basin through an effective use of public resources, both National and Communitarian and a tangible application of European principles referred to the politics of cohesion and proximity: partnership, sustainability and systematic characterisation of the actions are the key-words of the Associations’ strategy.
The Forum was awarded the European Parliament patronage for its 7th Edition (Ancona 2007), an important award as it underlines in the Organism of the Forum an example of “best practices” to help the harmonic growth of the Adriatic macro-region and to strengthen the juridical accrediting path started in Brussels at the Communitarian Bodies and Institutions.
The full juridical acknowledgement of the Association enables the Forum to candidate itself for the Communitarian programmes as an autonomous juridical subject and to take part to transborder planning activities, supporting the potentialities and the excellences of the territory on both sides of the Adriatic sea.
The path started has had the possibility of making use of the cooperation of the Union of Italian Chambers of Commerce with headquarters in Brussels, national representatives of the system of Italian Chambers of Commerce, where the Forum has obtained fiscal domicile that will help the Forum international visibility and the planning and international cooperation activity.

OBJECTIVES AND AIMS OF THE FORUM

Mission

The AIC Forum was established after the dramatic events that shook the Balkans and has set itself the priority aim of favouring the economic and social stability of the Adriatic-Ionian Area and creating a solid base for the process of European integration of the countries facing the Adriatic and Ionian Seas.
To date, the geopolitical framework where the AIC Forum acts has radically changed: Slovenia and Croatia are Member States of the European Union and also other Eastern Adriatic countries have started their process to approach community institutions within the framework of the stabilization process, though each of them in different times and with different results.
Nonetheless, the reasons that led to the setting up of the AIC Forum have remained valid over the years, whereby a pressing need for economic, social, environmental and cultural integration has been expressed and a strong emphasis has been laid on the process of European integration and enlargement, with special attention to security and legality.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

The institutional relations established by the AIC Forum have developed both inside and outside the Adriatic-Ionian area over the years.

Inside the Adriatic-Ionian area, the AIC Forum boasts already well-established collaboration relationships with the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, i.e. the intergovernmental network of the eight countries involved in the Macroregional Strategy (Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Albania) and most important promoter of the EUSAIR Strategy, as well as with the Adriatic-Ionian Euroregion, the Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Cities and Towns, the Uniadrion university network and the Adriatic Protected Areas Network AdriaPAN.

Evidence of this includes the several initiatives carried out jointly, as well as the signing of the Declaration of intentions for the Integrated Adriatic-Ionian Secretariat between the Permanent Secretariat of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative and three forums (i.e. AIC Forum, Forum of Adriatic and Ionian Cities and Towns and Uniadrion) during the 13th Edition of the AIC Forum in Međugorje in 2013. The signing of the declaration aims at reinforcing the cooperation between the civil society represented by the forums and the AII Permanent Secretariat and bring its voice and experience to the attention of all European institutions and the individual governments of the countries of the area.

The AIC Forum is strongly engaged also outside the borders of the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion.

Several initiatives are carried out jointly with the Association of Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce (ASCAME), with which the AIC Forum signed an agreement protocol in 2008 with the aim of enhancing cooperation and partnership opportunities in various areas, thereby sharing the activities of the Committees and the Workgroups that both associations work with.

Worth mentioning is also the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Central European Initiative (INCE) on the occasion of the 11th Edition of the AIC Forum in Budva (Montenegro) in 2011, which aims at reinforcing relations and cooperation within projects on sectors of common interest as well as attracting additional international resources, i.e. European funds, for the co-financing of AIC Forum and INCE respective projects and activities especially related to South-Eastern Europe.

In 2011 the AIC Forum was granted a significant recognition with its appointment as “Correspondent member” of the EUROCHAMBRES network, i.e. as a member on a par with other networking institutions or national unions of chambers of commerce, which do not belong to the European Union and support this important European network of chambers of commerce
Worth pointing out is also the involvement of the AIC Forum in NECSTouR (i.e. the European network of regions for the development of sustainable and competitive tourism) as Associated Partner, thereby highlighting the attention paid by the AIC Forum to the topic of sustainable tourism also in view of the virtuous experience made with the ADRION label.

WORKING METHODOLOGY

As an institution expressing the needs of civil society and specifically of the enterprises and their professional associations, since its establishment the AIC Forum has been engaged in the analysis of the economic and social situation of individual areas, the assessment of their differences and the search of solutions that might be mutually beneficial.

To better coordinate its activities and based on the results of these first years of analysis and reciprocal knowledge, common priority topics were identified and six theme-specific workgroups were created, i.e. agriculture, the environment, women entrepreneurship, fisheries and aquaculture, transport and tourism. Since these workgroups deal specifically with the themes of the EUSAIR Pillars a new thematic workgroups organization was made for the purpose of getting them coherent and more in line with the EUSAIR Pillars: Blue Growth, Connecting the Region, Environmental quality and agriculture, Sustainable Tourism and Women Entrepreneurship (given the coherence with the two EUSAIR cross-cutting priorities “Research, innovation and SMEs development/Capacity-building”). Moreover 2 Chambers of Commerce members for each workgroup have been appointed to coordinate the workgroups.

From a methodological viewpoint the AIC Forum organizes an annual itinerant edition on the issues of interest for enterprises; this edition is also the occasion for the theme-specific workgroups to meet.

The AIC Forum annual edition is periodically accompanied by other initiatives, like BtoB meetings, training courses, technical seminars, participation in trade fairs, technology transfer initiatives, etc. These are generally self-financed, yet they are increasingly organized within the framework of crossborder and/or transnational projects that are co-funded with extraordinary European, national and regional resources and as such do not burden or only partly burden on the AIC Forum, the promoters or the businesses involved.

The possibility of better intercepting these resources has improved since 2010, when the AIC Forum established a Workgroup on EU Project Management. The latter was set up with the ad hoc purpose of tapping EU resources and is supported by the work of experts in the field coming from several of the chambers of commerce involved.

Since its establishment and thanks to the work of this Workgroup the AIC Forum has carried out an extensive EU project management activity on EU calls for proposals and initiatives, whose beneficiaries have been the AIC Forum itself or some of its member chambers that have been indirectly involved thanks to the mediation of the AIC Forum. Financial activities on several topics have thus been activated, specifically tourism, innovation, intellectual property protection and several other activities that can favour the development of SMEs.

Ordinary Members