2017 The year in review

COBCOE Executive TeamThis year marked a clear shift in COBCOE’s standing. Thanks to the publication of our research report, Brexit – the Voices of European Business, and the work of our leadership team in strengthening links with relevant UK Government departments and the European Commission, COBCOE has become the go-to partner for Europe-wide engagement with business.

Before we go into detail about the 2017 developments, here’s a quick look at what’s coming up in 2018…


New opportunities to partner with COBCOE

COBCOE is approaching 2018 with a packed programme of thought leadership initiatives, practical business solutions and major events. We are offering new strategic partnership positions to join forces with corporate partners as we develop our network of British chambers globally, starting with the Commonwealth. More on COBCOE partnerships.


International Business Festival 2018, Liverpool, 12-28 June

As International Engagement Partner, we will be bringing in delegations from across Europe and hosting a major Brexit event on the opening day in partnership with HSBC. This will be our annual conference for 2018 and we expect a senior UK Government representative to give an opening address.  We also plan to exhibit on a Europe stand for the duration of the festival and run workshops with our members. International Business Festival information.

COBCOE 45th Anniversary 2018 

45th Anniversary

We are planning to celebrate with a special gala dinner and awards in the autumn.


Brexit Ambition, representation and thought leadership

Brexit – the Voices of European BusinessOur research report, Brexit – the Voices of European Business, was published in September. The result of almost a year’s research involving around 1,000 businesses across the continent, it identifies the key areas of common interest between the UK and EU27, and sets out priorities for a Brexit that secures prosperity for Europe.

The attention the report received in the media and among officials both in the UK and at the European Commission showed what a powerful voice British chambers of commerce across Europe can have when working together through COBCOE. The report has been referenced by two leading figures at the UK Department for Exiting the European Union – Robin Walker, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, and Baroness Anelay, Minister of State (until October 2017).

We have also been invited to submit evidence to various UK Government Select Committees and to present the report to the UK’s large lobbying business organisations.

The publication of our Brexit report completed the first phase of our ongoing Brexit Ambition project. We are grateful to our Brexit Ambition partners, Hogan Lovells, Today Translations and Kompass for their help and support.

Anne-Marie Martin, Chief Executive, has also taken part in events across the network as COBCOE members have presented the report to the business communities and officials in their home countries.


Travel and speaking

2017 saw a record number of engagements for David Thomas and Anne-Marie Martin. Both have become sought-after speakers and commentators, and they travelled extensively during 2017  primarily to present COBCOE’s Brexit research findings.

David Thomas took part in the International Chamber of Commerce Trade Finance Conference, the Czech British Chamber Annual Dinner, the Trade Economic Forum in Krynica, and COBCOE members’ Brexit events in Bulgaria, Sweden and the Netherlands. He also opened COBCOE’s annual conference and the event to launch the report, Brexit – Voices of European Business, at a conference at Hogan Lovells in London in September.

Countries visited by Anne-Marie Martin include Sweden, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Belgium, Ireland, Slovenia, Finland and Greece, where she has supported members’ events and presented the Brexit report. She has been a keynote speaker or panellist at numerous events, including those organised by Gatwick Diamond Business, Hertfordshire Global, Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce, Emerging Europe, Euractiv, Dublin City University Brexit Institute, and the Horasis Global Forum China.

COBCOE Jaguar Land Rover Partnership showcaseGrowth and development

This year we celebrated our relationship with our Global Strategic Partner Jaguar Land Rover with a special publication showcasing the partnership across our network.

View document


We were pleased to welcome new members, affiliates and partners in 2017, bringing the number of businesses within our network to around 12,000. In addition, we have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Institute of Directors and will soon do so with the Royal Commonwealth Society.

In 2017, we launched new corporate partnership levels making it easier for companies to benefit from working with COBOE for a low annual fee starting at £1,500 + VAT.


New members


British Business Chamber Croatia  

Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce 



Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce

Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce

New affiliates

French Chamber in Great Britain

Gatwick Diamond Business Club

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce

The Voice of Slovak Business

Indian Commonwealth SME Association Fraud Advisory Panel

Federation of Garden and Leisure Manufacturers

International Chambers of Commerce UK

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

New corporate partners

Halo Financial

Fifth Step

Algol Oy

Hickey & Associates

Penningtons Manches

Annual Conference focused on technology

Our annual conference ­took place in London in April beginning with the Training Academy led by Nigel Tomlinson of UP Consultancy and Anne-Marie Martin, Chief Executive of COBCOE. The two-day course focused on ‘The Chamber of Tomorrow’ and gave chamber staff from across Europe a rare opportunity to meet up in a supportive environment, share ideas and benefit from training devised specifically for their needs.

This year’s conference on digital transformation and innovation in business, included a welcome from Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London for Business, who is a successful tech entrepreneur in his own right, followed by two strong panels of entrepreneurs and those who support them, all of whom shared their insights into the future of business.

Max Steinberg CBE, Chairman of Liverpool Vision, gave a rousing after dinner speech at this year’s Awards Dinner at Ironmongers’ Hall. The British Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic was named Chamber of the Year, while the British Bulgarian Business Association won the Best Small Chamber award. The Make Europe Work! business awards went to By Path, a sales intelligence solution, and ProsFit, a manufacturer of limb prosthetics.

We are grateful to our Strategic Corporate Partner ICAEW for hosting our conference and AGM, and to our event partners London City Airport, Alexandrion Group and Aqua Carpatica.

We supported trade delegations, both in the UK and in Europe during the year, including the visit of the Finnish British Trade Association, two Slovenian delegations, the Invest in Slovenia Conference and Christmas gala dinner in London, the British and Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce in Finland (B3CF) Helsinki trade mission with HRH Prince Michael of Kent, and the visit of technology companies from Estonia.

We also supported the Farazad Productions Back To Business events in Romania, across Latin America and Dubai & Northern Emirates.

At this year’s Annual General Meeting, delegates voted to open COBCOE membership to chambers of commerce based in the UK, as well as continental Europe. Thames Valley and Hertfordshire Chambers were the first to take up membership.

Both chambers are internationally focused. COBCOE representatives gave presentations on COBCOE Connects, the online networking platform, at the launch of their global trade divisions during 2017 as both chambers are networks on COBCOE Connects.

The COBCOE executive team also met businesses and promoted the network at various B2B events, including Going Global in May and the Gatwick Diamond Business Group Meet the Buyers event in November.

COBCOE was featured in the 2017 edition of the Business Guide to the UK by Legend Publishing with the foreword by David Thomas, COBCOE Executive Chairman, and a chapter on COBOE Connects.


New Board

David Thomas, Glenn Vaughan and Glynis Whiting we re re-elected to the Board of COBCOE as Executive Chairman and Vice-Chairs, respectively.

Thomas Spiller (Belgium), Chris Butler (Lithuania), Olivier Campenon (France) and Alexander Bargum (FBTA Finland) were elected to join the board. At the first meeting of the new Board, Garry Parker (B3CF Finland) and Daniel Shilito (Italy) were co-opted to the Board, with Clive Memmott (Greater Manchester Chamber) joining as an Affiliate chamber observer.

See all Board members and biographies


COBCOE Quality Standard Certification (QSC)

Launched in 2015, the COBCOE QSC scheme promotes good practice throughout our network. Two more members became Quality Standard Certified this year: the British and Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce in Finland and the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce. We are now moving towards a full certification requirement for the members as we prepare for a more extensive quality framework based on international standards from 2019.


COBCOE Connects

COBCOE ConnectsThere are now 10 chambers with their members uploaded to the COBCOE Connects platform, with 10 more in the process of doing so. This translates to around 3,000 companies currently, supported by the Kompass global database of 10 million companies. There will be an accelerated roll out in 2018, with up to 50 networks by year-end.

As part of our commitment to find providers of valuable international trade solutions, we have agreed partnerships with three new companies: Hickey & Associates, Fifth Step and Halo Financial. They join Kompass, Today Translations and Rochester PR on the platform, and more partners will be announced in the coming months.


Young Professionals Network (YPN)

Membership of the COBCOE YPN continued to grow this year, following successful events and link-ups with groups across London. The YPN has developed close co-operation with the Future Fraud Professionals, the Golden Network and the Next Generation Insurance Network (NGIN).

Nana Frempong became COBCOE YPN Chair and we thank Connor Barnes for his hard work as the previous chair.

The group has hosted two events this year, both in partnership with the Future Fraud Professionals and supported by BDO, focusing on the key challenges facing business today For more information about the group, join the YPN Linkedin group.


If you would like to know more about COBCOE or opportunities to support our work as a partner, please contact us.

We wish you every success in the New Year.


COBCOE Executive Team

Anne-Marie Martin, COBCOE Chief Executive
Debbie Lamb, Head of Communications
Adam Szpala, Operations Executive

Aysim Arda, Business Development Manager (Turkey)
Vanessa Londono, Executive Assistant

London, December 2017

COBCOE Season's Greeting 2017 

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