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Small European States Economic Forum: a first in Monaco

For the first time, the Economic Forum of the Small States of Europe was held in Monaco on June 13, on the sidelines of the Conference of Speakers of Parliament.


On the occasion of the XVth Conference of Speakers of Parliament of the Small States of Europe, which was held in the Principality on 13 and 14 June 2022, the Monaco Economic Board organized the first Economic Forum in the Principality, designed to give impetus to economic cooperation between States with a population of less than 1 million inhabitants (Andorra, Cyprus, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro and San Marino)*. "Monaco is the historical inventor of this Conference of Speakers of Parliament of Small States, at the initiative of the President of the National Council Stéphane Valeri in 2005. The extension of this synergy, namely inviting the chambers of commerce and the ministries of tourism, was an obvious choice" explains Guillaume Rose, Executive Director of the MEB. Historically, this parliamentary meeting had focused on economic cooperation for the first time in 2019, in Cyprus. The first Economic Forum was held in Montenegro in parallel with the Small States Games of the same year.

Topics of common interest

In the framework of the economic forum organized at the Hotel Hermitage, representatives of chambers of commerce and tourism offices of these countries exchanged on topics of common interest, such as the importance of developing economic and tourism relations, or the issue of sustainable destinations in a post-Covid era. "Despite their geographical and historical differences, the small states have similar economic, financial and fiscal problems. We have an interest in sharing best practices and our approach to economic prosperity. Bringing together different nationalities, religions and communities on their territory, small states also represent a laboratory for living together", adds Guillaume Rose, happy that these debates have allowed everyone to present their recipes for success and their business plans. "Thanks to this economic forum, which is intended to be institutionalized, we want to learn from what is done in Monaco and other small states in Europe," said Miljan Sestovic, Director of the Department of Research and Analysis of the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro, pleased to be able to present the opportunities offered by his country in terms of investment but also tourism. Pilar Escaler and Sol Rossell Tarradellas, respectively Director and Deputy Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services of Andorra, welcome the initiative of this forum: "We can work together with other chambers of commerce on certain technical issues. For example, we want to create an arbitration court in Andorra, it is interesting to collect the experience of other countries.

"We must exchange opportunities for our companies, not in a spirit of competition but of solidarity. It is important to discuss together the challenges we all face such as the energy transition, with a goal of carbon neutrality before 2030, and the digital transformation of our countries," confirms Denis Cecchetti, Director General of the San Marino Chamber of Commerce.

A first

For the first time, representatives of the Chambers of Commerce of San Marino, Andorra, Malta and Montenegro met with Monegasque companies that are members of the MEB, eager to establish relationships to promote their activities in these territories, and to have a privileged contact with the authorities of these countries. The chambers of commerce represent an ideal gateway to develop their business. Around 100 BtoB meetings were organized in the afternoon.

"It is interesting for companies to penetrate the market of a small state. It's easier than in a big country, we can do tailor-made business and the chambers of commerce can put companies in direct contact with their targets," said Marisa Xuereb, President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who met with Monegasque companies specializing in yachting, legal and tax advice. Malta has already attracted one of the jewels of the Monegasque economy, Monaco Telecom, which bought Vodafone Malta in 2020. "This Monegasque operator, with its Epic brand, has become a strategic player for our economy," comments Marisa Xuereb.

For Monaco, the host state, this economic forum was obviously an opportunity to present the Principality's assets and the bridges with other small states. For example, Antoine Bahri, founder of the Carlo application, explained the characteristics of his payment and cash back technology, which now has 32,000 users, 420 merchants and 1,100 transactions per day in Monaco. Also deployed in Aix-en-Provence and Valladolid in Spain, this application, ideal for medium-sized areas, is about to seduce another Small State and its population of 80,000 people: Andorra... 

Next Forum in 2023

In 2023, Luxembourg will host the next Conference of Presidents of Parliament. An Economic Forum will again be held there and the MEB plans an economic mission with entrepreneurs from the Principality. A new opportunity to multiply meetings with economic and institutional interlocutors from the nine small states of Europe and to organize business events with its members.

*It should be noted that within this club of Small States, Monaco has special relations with San Marino and Andorra. These three countries are negotiating together with the European Union, with a view to concluding an Association Agreement. All three are located in the heart of Europe and have many similar characteristics. The Union therefore wished to take a coherent and common approach with these three countries, as it has done with other geographical groups (Mediterranean, Caribbean, Latin America, etc.). 

A tour of the Small States of Europe

Among the common points of the 9 small States of Europe, there is obviously the weight of tourism in the economy, which represents 12 to 35% of GDP depending on the State. From the historic center of San Marino to the Kotor Mouths, a Unesco World Heritage Site, to the Hornstrandir nature reserve, Iceland's northernmost peninsula, each country has remarkable and very varied tourist attractions. This is why Monaco and San Marino have inaugurated the Mauro Maiani Tour of the Small States of Europe. "This tour named in tribute to the director of tourism and ambassador unfortunately recently deceased of San Marino, who carried this idea, is intended to promote the particularities of the Small States of Europe, "says Guillaume Rose. "It is a great source of pride for me to inaugurate this project that Mauro Maiani supported. It is exciting to know that there will be a space that unites the small states and that it bears the name of Mauro Maiani," said Federico Pedini, Minister of Tourism of San Marino. "The creation of this Tour of the Small States of Europe was intended to promote the development of the economy and tourism in the Small States and comes to life in the headquarters of the Office of Tourism and Congresses of Monaco with a function as simple as decisive: to promote tourism of the Small States of Europe in synergy. The difficulties of our time have taught us that there is no better way to face challenges than together, which is why this is already a winning project today," he continued.

MEB has entrusted the coordination of this tour to the Monegasque companies Monte-Carlo Travel and Jet Travel. "The idea is to offer a tailor-made and flexible trip as well as a global coordination on these destinations. Each tourist office will be able to contact us and offer this tour to agencies and their customers," explains Vittorio Gai, director of Monte-Carlo Travel.

The first symbolic step is that the Tourist Offices of each country now have presentation stands in Monaco to presentation stands in Monaco to promote their destinations to Monaco residents and visitors.

The role of economic diplomacy for small states

During the Economic Forum organized by the MEB, Isabelle Berro-Amadeï, Government Counsellor-Minister for External Relations and Cooperation and Guillaume Rose, Executive Director of the MEB, held a conference on "The role of economic diplomacy for small states" in front of representatives of the invited Chambers of Commerce and MEB members. The speakers reminded the audience that a country's influence does not depend solely on its size. "As the UN Secretary General points out, small states are a fundamental pillar of multilateralism and the values of the UN Charter. We can have leadership on crucial issues like climate, security and development, and achieve results through mediators and influencers. I hope that your visit to Monaco will be an opportunity to build strong and friendly bridges together, and will create synergies between our countries, to be developed in the future," said Isabelle Berro-Amadéï, before recalling the importance of Monegasque economic diplomacy.

The diplomatic and consular network includes 16 active Ambassadors of Monaco, 13 in 28 States, mainly in Europe and on the North American continent (three are only accredited to International Organizations). The Principality is also represented abroad by a network of 132 Consulates in 82 States, contributing, since the 19th century, to Monaco's external influence. While 88 countries are represented in Monaco by their consul. 

Isabelle Berro and Guillaume Rose spoke of the importance of "Team Monaco" in promoting the attractiveness of the Principality, a priority set by HSH Prince Albert II. "The diplomatic and consular network therefore works closely with all of Monaco's economic and cultural players and entities, particularly during their trips abroad, which are all opportunities to export Monaco's tourist, economic, cultural, artistic and event assets."


➢ Photos (credits MEB / Carte Blanche)


  • Photo 1 : BtoB meeting session between the chambers of commerce of the Small Countries and the MEB member companies.


  • Photo 2: Conference about economic diplomacy with Isabelle Berro-Amadeï, Government Advisor-Minister of External Relations and Cooperation and Guillaume Rose, Executive Director General of MEB.


➢ Press contact: Benoît Ulrich / Delphine Quilichini -