In the last decade of the twentieth century, insular problems became the focus of many actions and initiatives at different institutions at a local, national and European level.
* in 1994 on the island of Chios (Greece) regarding: ‘Economic and Social Cohesion'
It was at this last conference where the decision was taken to set up the ‘Network of Insular Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the European Union'. The Network's articles of association were signed at the Chania Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Crete (Greece) on 6th May 2000, with the participation of 26 Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the insular regions of France, Greece, Spain and Italy.
The Network's first General Assembly took place in Rhodes (Greece) on 5th October 2000 with the participation of 29 insular Chambers of Commerce of the European Union, the Chambers of Commerce of Cyprus and the island of Gozo (Malta) as associate members, whilst the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Verde was allowed to participate as an observer.
Furthermore, the first Network Forum on ‘Sustainable Development of Small and Medium Sized Insular Enterprises in the face of Globalisation' took place on 6th and 7th October 2000.
The second Network Forum on ‘Sustainable Tourism Development for European Islands' was held in La Palma (Canary Islands) from 1st to 4th November 2001, attended by Spanish, Greek and Canary Island government representatives, as well as the Insular Chambers of Commerce from these countries.
The third Network Forum on ‘SMEs and Insular Difficulties: the Activity of Chambers of Commerce and Industry within the Framework of the European Union' took place in Cagliari, Sardinia (Italy) on 14th and 15th November 2002.
The Network is in permanent contact with relevant bodies at the European Commission through its permanent representative in Brussels and the members of the Technical Committee, so as to find the best cooperation sectors within the framework of different European projects and initiatives.
The Insular Chambers of Commerce also take part in work by the Islands Commission at the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR).
Regular cooperation between members of the European Parliament, representatives from local and regional authorities and Chambers of Commerce has decisively contributed to including specific arrangements favouring islands in the Treaty of Amsterdam (article 158 and protocol 30).
The ambition of European Union Chambers of Commerce is to set up, via the Network, an engine for internal insular development in close collaboration with regional and local authorities and insular universities, within the framework of national and community projects, so as to ensure the viability of island economies by developing the competitiveness of insular enterprises.
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