Međugorje (Bosnia-Herzegovina) 14th-16th May 2013: 13th Edition of Forum of Adriatic and Ionian Chamber of Commerce

The town of Međugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina was the venue of the 13th Edition of the AIC Forum, i.e. the annual event organized by the AIC in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The plenary session on “The Action Plan for the Adriatic and Ionian Macroregion: a joint contribution for a common project. An exchange of views between Institutional Networks and Enterprises” saw the participation of about 260 delegates, including representatives of European institutions, national bodies (Italian Ministries for Tourism and Economic Development), the Permanent Secretariat of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative (AII), the university network Uniadrion, professional associations, as well as representatives from the business world and international partnership networks, like Ascame, Insuleur, NecsTouR and the Adriatic-Ionian Euroregion. Also the European Commission was present with influential representatives, specifically from the Directorate-General (DG) Regional Policies and the DG Enterprise and Industry-Tourism Unit, i.e. decision-makers of the Action Plan for the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion. The choice of the title of the AIC Forum 13th Edition stems from the fact that the Međugorje event represented the first official meeting between Adriatic and Ionian civil society forums and international networks to provide the Action Plan with a system-based overarching contribution with the aim of speaking with a joint and single voice to the authoritative representatives from the European Commission, thereby expressing the requests coming from the territories in view of a “multilevel governance”, i.e. with a bottom-up approach that includes several institutions at different supranational or national decision-making levels depending on their respective mission and competence. The decision to involve international networks also originates from the opportunity to create and reinforce a synergy, which will it possible to participate in the European decision-making process thereby providing the point of view of the system of chambers of commerce as a whole on priority topics. The event took place a few months from the official start of the operational stage concerning the definition of the Strategy: on 14th December 2012 the European Council formally provided the European Commission with the mandate to launch the Strategy that will lead to the creation of the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion, thereby de facto entrusting it develop the contents of the Action Plan for the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion, which will be approved in 2014 halfway between the Greek and Italian EU Presidency. The mandate to elaborate the Action Plan was given to the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion together with the Regions and other local interlocutors, also including partnership networks like the AIC Forum.

PLENARY SESSION – 14th May 2013

Opening remarks

The works opened on 14th May with the greetings by authoritative local speakers, chaired by the President Jadranka Radovanić: the President of the Chamber of the Economy of the host country Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina Jago Lasić, the mayor of the City of Čitluk Ivo Jerkić, the President of the Council of Ministers of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina Vjekoslav Bevanda, the representative of the Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry and Aquaculture of the County of Hercegovina Neretva Donko Jović. Furthermore, the contributions by Ambassador Raimondo De Cardona, Italian ambassador in Sarajevo, and by the President of Unioncamere Ferruccio Dardanello, who officially announced his decision to join the AIC Forum as a new member on the occasion of the 13th edition of the Forum.
The membership of Unioncamere undoubtedly reinforces the activity of the AIC Forum and allows the entire Italian system of chambers of commerce to carry on with momentum and determination their work towards the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion, which will bring benefits to all the territories in the area.
The initial greetings were then followed by the plenary session, which outlined a thorough and complete reference framework of guidance for future actions, thereby focusing on key reference sectors. Contributions were made by ambassador Ivan Orlić, Senior Official of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative representing the host country; Tiziana Vecchio from the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, who provided an updated economic and statistical overview of the situation in her presentation that is useful to promote future SME investments in the area; Flavia Maria Coccia from the Italian Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Tourism, who focussed the possibility of a future branding policy shared among the ministries of the AIC countries, thereby starting from the experience of AIC Forum Adrion as a useful reference logo for the identification of the area as a single tourist destination at a European and international level
A key contribution was offered by Giannantonio Ballette from the DG Regio of the European Commission. In his speech he provided participants with anticipations, insights and useful indications, thereby allowing the AIC Forum to focus on strategic sectors like tourism, infrastructures, the blue economy and the environment, as well as on cross-cutting issues, like research, innovation and capacity building to successfully manage the complex process of creation of the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion.

Focus Group

A significant contribution was offered by the Focus Group chaired by the AIC Forum Secretary-General Michele De Vita, which actively involved the various forums, the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, international networks and the Adriatic-Ionian Euroregion.
The Focus Group saw the participation of the AIC Forum Vicepresident Rodolfo Giampieri, the representative of Uniadrion Prof. Fausto Pugnaloni, the representative of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative Marco Bellardi, the Secretary-General of the Adriatic-Ionian Euroregion Francesco Cocco, as well as representatives of the Ascame (Juan Josè Rios Megino), Insuleur (Juan Gual de Torrella Guasp) and NecsTouR (Teresa Caldarola) networks.

WORKGROUPS – 15th May 2013

The second day of the AIC Forum was entirely devoted to the theme-specific workgroups. The presence of key speakers enabled each workgroup to guide and discuss in detail specific topics of priority interest.

The Workgroup on Agriculture dealt with ambitious and tangible objectives and saw the participation of Prof. Rodolfo Santilocchi from the Department of agricultural, nutritional and environmental sciences of the Polytechnic University “Università Politecnica delle Marche” as keynote speaker. The best practice represented by the international extra-virgin olive oil competition ”Oro dei due Mari”, i.e. the gold of the two seas, which was organized and promoted by Olea, will make it possible to start training courses on various typical products of the Adriatic-Ionian area in order to train professional tasters who will be recognized at a European level.

The joint meeting between the Workgroup on Fisheries/Aquaculture and the Workgroup on the Environment saw the participation of two keynote speakers: Jakov Dulčić from the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries IZOR (Croatia), for the Workgroup for Fisheries/Aquaculture, and Gerhard Lempl, Councillor for transports and tourism of the Primorsko-goranska County in Croatia, for the Workgroup for the Environment.
The debate was stimulated by the contributions of several experts and made it possible to focus on an extremely up-to-date topic, i.e. the sustainable management of natural coastal resources, thereby fully respecting traditions, the ecology and the most recent legislation. The joint objective of two workgroups was to identify a common definition for coastal fisheries and promote research activities through ad-hoc commissions and specific committees, as well as to carry out monitoring work of the fishing activity through the collection of statistical data.

The Workgroup on Women’s Entrepreneurship was attended by a large number of people, including outstanding influential women, like the keynote speaker and Commissioner of the Ancona Province Patrizia Casagrande Esposto, the Deputy Secretary-General of Unioncamere Tiziana Pompei, as well as numerous businesswomen who actively dealt with the presentation of best practices and the ways to reinforce the economy of the area. The aim was to promote the development of women’s entrepreneurial policy in countries, in which no appropriate strategy has yet been developed, thereby taking into account the fact that that this could be a priority topic within the framework of the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion.
Within the framework of the Workgroup for women’s entrepreneurship, on the occasion of the gala evening President Radovanić made a special mention to all the women, who have shown their engagement for the promotion of female entrepreneurship in the area.

During the Workgroup on Transports a significant contribution was pronounced by Ida Simonella from ISTAO. In her presentation on the future of the main maritime sectors of Adriatic and Ionian ports she provided the audience with several useful insights to stimulate a fruitful debate and set the objectives that the workgroup intends to achieve during the year: the ability to share strategic choices for port development within a broader context than the mere local one, so as to strengthen the Adriatic offer vis-à-vis major international shipping agents and the identification of solutions, if necessary also regulatory ones, to promote the development of intermodal transport.

The Workgroup on Tourism focused on “The Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion as a single tourist destination”. This extremely topical topic generated strong interest following the mention of the Adrion logo in the European Commission Communication no. 713 of 30th November 2012 “A Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas”, which acknowledged the Adrion label as the identification logo for the area at European level and thus recognized the work carried out by the AIC Forum in recent years. The aim is the Workgroup for tourism is to have the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion recognized as a single tourist destination on international markets. The single branding policy promoted by the workgroup to candidate the area as a European cultural route recognized by the Council of Europe, which has managed a specific related programme since 1987, pursues exactly this goal. Within this context, the project under the name “VeroTouR – Venetian Routes: Enhancing a shared European multi-cultural sustainable tourism” on Venetian trade routes, which is coordinated by the Veneto Region and has the AIC Forum as one of its partners, was approved by the European Commission and appears to have strong potential.
This objective was shared with the tour operators, entrepreneurs and international organizations involved in the workgroup, who agreed on the need to elaborate and identify specific quality objectives, with the aim of reviewing the parameters of the current specifications to re-launch the competitiveness of the area in line with the European quality tourism label policy proposed by the European Commission and which will be adopted as a community regulation by the end of 2013
The workgroup started from the successful experience of the “Ospitalità Italiana” label by Isnart, which has been promoted by the Italian system of chambers of commerce. Its intention is to promote a quality certification for accommodation facilities through tangible promotional and marketing actions, thereby becoming a privileged showcase to promote foreign customers tourist packages and ad hoc itineraries in the Adriatic-Ionian area.
Keynote speaker of the workgroup was Cinzia de Marzo from the Tourism Unit of the European Commission and Alberto D’Alessandro from the Council of Europe, who focused on possible lines of actions that can contribute to the Action Plan of the Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion and consider cultural tourism as an opportunity of development and cohesion of the Macroregion. The two keynote speakers legitimated the work done so far and the need to continue developing activities, which refer to the area as a single reference tourist destination
The workgroup also focused on priority topics, like the Italian national policy for the promotion and growth of enterprises active in the Balkans (Ministry for Economic Development, Unioncamere and Unioncamere Emilia Romagna), the international competitiveness of the Adriatic-Ionian basin (Ministry for Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Assonautica, Isnart, Risposte Turismo srl), business opportunities for tour operators working in the Adriatic-Ionian area (Globe Inside, Amatori Tour Operator) and collaborations with institutional networks (Insuleur, Ascame, NecsTouR and Adriatic-Ionian Euroregion).

The third day of the AIC Forum saw the meetings of the Workgroup on EU Project Management and the International Court of the Adriatic and Ionian Area, as well as the meetings of the AIC Forum organs.
The meeting of the Workgroup on EU Project Management saw the participation of 19 participants representing all AIC Forum countries, as well as a representative of Insuleur, one of Necstour and one of the Italian-Bosnian Chamber of Commerce
The workgroup specifically dealt with on-going projects, which see the direct participation of the AIC Forum, and with new calls for proposals for A number of issues emerged, that workgroup participants committed themselves to work on in the following ones. The most important ones include the following:

request for a stronger collaboration of all member chambers of commerce to support the AIC Forum secretariat and the Ancona Chamber of Commerce in implementing various projects already financed;
the need to recover and propose again projects already presented in the past, but which had not been financed, e.g. the ADRION project (IPA CBC – II Call for proposal for ordinary project);
improved communication between the members of the Workgroup on EU Project Management before, during and after the presentation of individual projects in order to optimize and share ideas in view of new candidate projects, as well as improved efforts for programming and developing the activities of already financed projects;
evaluation of new proposals of the workgroup in view of a constant collaboration, which is not fragmentary or in any case limited to the individual annual editions of the AIC Forum.
The International Court for the Adriatic and Ionian Area , which the AIC Forum organ entrusted with the mediation and arbitration proceedings, decided to open up towards new prospects to increasingly support cross-borders business players
The objective to pursue in future months is for the court to become a round table for consultations and the exchange of experiences on the issue of Alternative Dispute Resolution, i.e. a setting for the sharing of best practices, a privileged context to carry out research and study activities in the field of arbitration and mediation, a centre to create synergies able to produce project proposals at a community and international levels and set up special partnerships on issues related to international forms of alternative justice to participate in calls for tenders/projects
This is necessary, so as to have a reference point able to provide tangible answers to the needs of Adriatic and Ionian business players and above all to reassure those wishing to establish trade relations with players on the other shore of the Adriatic. For all the above mentioned reasons, the International Court for the Adriatic and Ionian Area will be further promoted through the diffusion of regulations and clauses and the search for arrangements and bilateral agreements, so that this collaboration leads to a real synergy able to provide local businesspeople with actual support.


The 13th edition of the AIC Forum ended with the signature of the “Declaration of intentions for the Integrated Adriatic-Ionian Secretariat” , comprising the Permanent Secretariat of the Adriatic of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative and the three forums, which was approved by the AIC Forum Board of Governors by unanimous vote.
The aim of the Declaration is to reinforce cooperation between the civil society, represented by the forums, and the AII Permanent Secretariat, so as to bring the AII voice and experience in all institutional settings, starting from European institutions and the governments of the AIC countries.
This cooperation was furthermore positively accepted in Brussels on 27th May 2013 on the occasion of the 15th Adriatic-Ionian Council. This is the annual gathering of all ministers for foreign affairs of the eight countries member to the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative (AII), who confirmed the strong commitment of the eight AII governments to the approval of the European Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion.
This important recognition is the first tangible result of the engagement and common efforts by all member chambers of the “Declaration of intentions for the Integrated Adriatic-Ionian Secretariat”, which was also mentioned by the Italian Deputy-Minister for Foreign Affairs Marta Dassù in Brussels, who confirmed the full support to the process of the Adriatic-Ionian Macroregion by the Italian Government.
Such an explicit and solemn recognition confers the AIC with new responsibilities, especially in a moment like the current one when civil societies and all other players involved in the macroregional process are asked to prove their project management and propositional capacities in offering useful contributions, so that the future Action Plan fully meets the expectations and needs expressed by Adriatic-Ionian territories, which can from now on have a say in Europe through the Forum of the Chambers of Commerce of the Adriatic and Ionian Area.

Rodolfo Giampieri was elected as the new President of the Forum of the Chambers of Commerce of the Adriatic and Ionian Area during the meeting of the AIC Forum members. He illustrated the five points on the agenda of his presidential mandate: promoting the economic recovery of the Macroregion through the development of priority assets, which will be identified by the Action Plan; reinforcing the relations between the chambers of commerce of cross-border countries; promoting SME internationalization; favouring the exchange of views and experiences between different chambers of commerce and extending the involvement of more chambers and their number as members of the AIC Forum; ensuring the coordination of activities planned by and with other forums (Forum of Adriatic and Ionian Cities and Towns, Uniadrion network of universities) in order to guarantee continuity and uniformity of action, though respecting the autonomy of each member chamber. The office of Vicepresident of the AIC Forum went to the President of the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro Velimir Mijušković. In view of Croatia joining the European Union on 1st July 2013, the outgoing President Jadranka Radovanić expressed her wish to assign the Vice-Presidency of the AIC Forum to a country, which is not yet a member of the EU. The meeting of the AIC Forum member chambers unanimously voted in favour of President Mijušković, who expressed his intention to reinforce the collaboration with the Ancona Chamber of Commerce and all other chambers of commerce member to the AIC Forum.

Documents (zip file)

Forum AIC – Documents


Presentation of Giannantonio Ballette _ DG REGIO

Contribution of Andrea Vitolo_Italian Contact Point for the “European Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region”

Final Documents

Declaration of Intent Adriatic Ionian Integrated Secretariat