The 17th Edition of the Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce has been held in Abruzzo in the cities of Pescara and Chieti (Italy) from the 7th to the 9th of June 2017 in parallel with the 18th Edition of the Forum of Adriatic and Ionian Cities.

The event, jointly organized by the Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce and Cities, in collaboration with the Chambers of Commerce and the Cities of Pescara and Chieti, saw the participation of more than 200 professionals, including guests and key speakers from Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Greece, Albania and Serbia, as well as speakers from Brussels and the European Commission, for three days devoted to dialogue and debate, together with thematic workgroups in order to outline priorities and guidelines for future projects to be submitted to the European Commission.

In the current scenario of changes, challenges and opportunities to be seized in the Ionian and Adriatic area, for a relaunch of the territories local economy based on the cooperation among institutions, businesses, academia and civil society in a macro regional dimension, the Fora of the Chambers of Commerce and of the Cities intend to facilitate this socio-economic and cultural integration process, in line with the strategic objectives of the European Union.

Moreover, the choice of organizing the event in Italy, other than a message of solidarity towards the cities and territories affected by the earthquake, wants to be a strong signal of attention by the civil society, represented by the Fora, during the Italian AII Chairmanship and EUSAIR Co-Chairmanship, which has begun on June 1st.

In this year edition, through an in-depth analysis of the role of Governance and transnational networks, the “Bridging to the Future” plenary session focused on some relevant topics for the 8 countries of the Adriatic and Ionian area, which represent at the same time, European prerogatives: cultural heritage and tourism, innovation and digitization of businesses and public administration.

Moderating the debate, Marco Panara, journalist of the Italian newspaper “La Repubblica” Business and Finance. The plenary session opened with greetings from Stefano Civitarese, municipal Councilor for mobility of the City of Pescara, who stressed the importance of the role of governance and cooperation between local authorities for the reconstruction of the region facing the Adriatic and Ionian Sea. “Starting from local communities, there is the need to rebuild from the bottom development and cooperation policies that give momentum to the territories and thus allow us to present ourselves stronger and more cohesive to the rest of Europe”. An impetus that was also hoped for by the Chieti municipal Councilor for Production Activities Carla Di Biase.
“We are really proud of the Adriatic Sea” commenced Rodolfo Giampieri, President of the Chambers of Commerce Forum “which returned to be an infrastructure that unites and does not divide. The Macroregion now has 3 million businesses and 70 million inhabitants, numbers that invite us to do our best and not to waste the Chambers of Commerce skills and professionalism, now, at the beginning of the chambers system reform. It is necessary to make administrators aware of how valuable these institutions are to launch a policy of reboosting small and medium-sized enterprises in the countries involved”. President Giampieri also emphasized the overcoming of barriers and peculiarities that divide the region, highlighting how people should join through economies, with the ultimate goal of creating employment.
Vladimir Jokic, President of the Forum of Adriatic and Ionian Cities and Mayor of Kotor, greeted host cities, members of the Forum, participants and everyone who attended. After expressing his satisfaction with the organization of the Forum, President Jokic stressed the importance of such meetings that offer fruitful opportunities for sharing, exchanging knowledge and working together, hoping that these meetings can bring innumerable benefits to local communities.
Presidents of the Chambers of Commerce of Pescara and Chieti, Daniele Becci and Roberto Di Vincenzo, brought attention to the economic aspect and to the chambers system role, emphasizing the importance of bringing the Forum to Pescara and Chieti in order to restore the centrality of the territory, the synergies that such an event can create and the development prospects that the two seas offer to the territories. The opening greetings were closed by Ambassador Fabio Pigliapoco, of the Permanent Secretariat of the Adriatic Ionian Initiative, who reaffirmed the importance of civil society and emphasized how the macro-regional strategy is based on the principle of subsidiarity that links the European dimension to local territories. “Currently 33 million Euros have been invested, and another 70 will be earmarked in the next two years. We can therefore say that the work of these two years is beginning to bear fruit, but let us not forget that everything comes from a noble idea like pacification. Without peace we can’t do business.”

The first part of the plenary session devoted to the Macroregion and European territorial cooperation as a model of governance, entitled “Which Governance model to relaunch the territories in a macro regional perspective?” was opened by a video greetings message by Jean Pierre Halkin, Head of Unit Competence Centre Macroregions and European Territorial Cooperation, DG REGIO European Commission, which addressed the EUSAIR strategy’s latest developments and the results of the II Ioannina Forum, highlighting the importance that civil society joint actions have for the EU.
In order to enrich the debate and provide useful ideas for actions and projects of macroregional dimension, Cinzia De Marzo, an external expert for the European Commission for EU Macro Regional Strategies, presented the “Fora Joint Actions”, EUSAIR strategy tool with the aim of facilitating relations with the civil society. This document, approved at the 1st Joint Forum of the Ionian Adriatic Macroregion, held in October 2016 in the city of Olympia, is the result of a shared and participatory process among the 3 different Fora (Chambers of Commerce, Universities and Cities) in which was included even the Permanent Secretariat of the Adriatic Ionian Initiative and took into account needs and priorities suggested by the European Commission and the National (Regional) Contact Points.

The roundtable saw the presence of networks connected to the Adriatic Ionian basin. First of all, Rodolfo Giampieri, President of the Central Adriatic Port System Authority, spoke about the new port governance and the reform of the port authorities system, the simplification and the overcoming of cultural barriers in favor of greater cooperation and integration. Giuseppe Sciacca, Senior Policy Officer of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe, which emphasized the synergy between different networks that deal with complementary themes with the ultimate goal of implementing European policies, with particular emphasis on the European maritime dimension, the need for an integrated maritime policy and greater regionalism in common policies. Francesco Cocco, Secretary-General of the Ionian Adriatic Euroregion, called for greater cooperation and synergy between the various networks dealing with the area concerned and respect for the commitments taken since the entry into force of the Strategy, within which governments and regions can implement European policies.
Mirjana Čagalj, Vice President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy for construction, transport and communication, emphasized during the speech that transport and infrastructure are an essential prerequisite as well as a development driver of the area. She mentioned some of the ongoing projects regarding the development of transport infrastructure in Croatia and in other parts of the Adriatic and Ionian Macroregion. In conclusion, she pointed out that setting the Adriatic and Ionian Macro region on solid foundation requires a strong inclusion of the real sector, transparency of the bureaucratic apparatus and infrastructural connection. Paola Di Salvatore, IPA Adriatic CBC Managing Authority, spoke of European funding and projects in line with the thematic pillars of the EUSAIR.
The round table on territorial governance models saw the presence of Riccardo Strano, Head of the EUSAIR Facility Point (Marche Region), as the last speaker, illustrating the Stakeholder Platform as a tool with the aim of linking various stakeholders at macro-regional level.

In the second part of the plenary session, devoted to cultural heritage and tourism, numerous speakers have spoken and presented their experiences in this particular field, which has been repeatedly emphasized as crucial for the future of the area.
George Drakopoulos, Special Adviser of the United Nations World Tourism Organization; Alberto D’Alessandro, Executive Director VII European Forum of Cultural Routes, which spoke about the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Cultural Routes; Domenico Sturabotti, Symbola Executive Director “Io sono Cultura”. Several local level experiences have also been reported in the field of tourism and cultural heritage. In this regard, Vladimir Jokic took the floor to inform the audience about the experience of the City of Kotor; Alberto Monachesi, about the experience of the city of Ancona “Tipicità in Blu”, Konstantinos Nikoloutsos, President of Ilia Chamber of Commerce on the experience of the City of Olympia and Roberto Di Vincenzo, President of Chieti Chamber of Commerce, on “Tourism&Territory: Bike to Coast ” project.

The third part of the plenary session, regarding the Industry 4.0 and the digitization of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, saw the participation of three excellent representatives. Michael Berz, DG GROW European Commission, spoke about the digitization and innovation as European prerogatives and the policies and strategies the Union has launched in this area. Giuseppe Salonia, SMEs Applied Research Service and Experimental Centres Manager, representing Unioncamere; and Roberto Santolamazza, on the experience and best practices of T2i – Technology Transfer and Innovation – a consortium for innovation promoted by the Chambers of Commerce of Treviso and Rovigo, who explained the importance of networking between different Chambers of Commerce .

The Plenary Conclusions were presented by Nicola Pedrazzi, Representative of Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa, with a speech on the role of the Civil Society Forum, to be held in Trieste from 10th  to 12th of July in the framework of the Fourth Summit of the Berlin Process for the European integration of the Western Balkans, and by Luca Fraticelli, Italian Foreign Affair and International Cooperation Ministry, Adriatic and Balkans Unit, which drew attention to the beginning of the Italian AII Chairmanship and EUSAIR Co-Chairmanship.

In the afternoon five Thematic Workgroups have been organized according to the EUSAIR Strategy Pillars to propose actions and projects of a macro-regional dimension and in line with the objectives and pillars of the EUSAIR Action Plan.
During the Blue Growth Table, coordinated by the Bari Chamber of Commerce and the Montenegro Chamber of Economy, was presented the Bari Chamber project idea regarding the topic “Nautical refitting. Old ships as: labs for cross-border design & crafts and venues for cultural and food Events”. As key speakers two professors from the Polytechnic University of Bari brought their technical-scientific contribution: Rossana Carullo and Michele Fiorentino. The proposal was discussed and enriched by ideas and reflections by all participants.
In the Workgroup Connecting the Region (Transport), the theme discussed was ports as a tourist gateway to the city: bets practices of welcome services and potential models of organization for Chambers of Commerce, Port Authorities and Municipalities. The table, coordinated by the Ancona and Achaia Chamber of Commerce, had as key rapporteur Anthony La Salandra, Managing Director of Risposte Turismo, who illustrated the recent annual report regarding the Adriatic and Ionian sea and cruise data, named “Adriatic Sea Tourism Report”.
In the workgroup on Environmental Quality and Agriculture, coordinated by Italian Unioncamere and the Chamber of Commerce of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the argument which has been dealt with was “Public-Private Partnership in Agriculture: Challenges and Opportunities”, thanks to the contribution of the rapporteur Mia Glamuzina, Member of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Government Coordination Team for EU Integration Issues.
“Intercultural dialogue through sustainable tourism” was the topic of the fourth working group on sustainable tourism coordinated by the Croatian Chamber of Economy and the Durres Chamber of Commerce. The project “Western Silk Roads” was promoted by the DG REGIO and presented by Joanna Mouliou, representing the European Commission, and by George Drakopoulos, representative of the project and Special Adviser to the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The project aims at the development of tourist flows between Europe and China and is organized along three main directives: sustainable tourism; promotion and marketing; travelling facilitations. The project “Western Silk Roads” declared George Drakopoulos “will be also very important for the development of new shipping freight routes. In just two years Chinese have tripled routes from China to Europe ranging from 33 to 64. A great opportunity that cannot be missed for all the economic sectors of the Adriatic Ionian Macroregion”.
To complete the key speakers of the Tourism Working Group Monia Franceschini, President of the European Association NikolaosRoute – La Via Nicolaiana, which enriched the debate by promoting good practices in terms of European cultural itineraries.
The workgroup on Women’s Entrepreneurship, coordinated by the Split Chamber of Economy and the Udine Chamber of Commerce, saw the presence of Vito Signati, Director of CESP, Special Agency of the Matera Chamber of Commerce, who talked about the experience as project leader of Mirabilia: European Network of UNESCO Sites”. During the working group it has been explored the role and potential that female entrepreneurship can have. Furthermore, it has been decided Ravenna will be the location of the next Women’s Entrepreneurship Forum in Autumn 2017.
The work day ended with the Workgroup on EU Project Management, coordinated by the Chieti Chamber of Commerce, in which conclusions and results of previous Working Groups were presented, with the participation of the Technical Assistance to the Managing Authority of the IPA Adriatic CBC Programme and Unioncamere Europa asbl.

At the Ordinary Assembly of the AIC Forum held on the 9th of June in Pescara, Mirjana Čagalj, Vice President for Construction, Transport and Connections of the Croatian Chamber of Economy and Acting President of Split Chamber of Economy, was elected new president of the Forum for the next term of office of two years. Alfredo Malcarne, president of the Brindisi Chamber of Commerce (Italy) was elected vice president of the Forum. Michele De Vita has been confirmed Forum Secretary General.

Final Documents 2017


Cinzia De Marzo-Fora Joint Actions

George Drakopoulos-Special Adviser-UNWTO

Alberto D’Alessandro-Cultural Routes

Sturabotti-Io Sono Cultura

Alberto Monachesi-TipicitàInBlu

Nikoloutsos-Olympia City Experience

Michael Berz-DG GROW

Other material provided by Michael Berz: