The first form of commercial association appeared in 1865 to Syros under the name «Company for free trade» having as ultimate goal to «remove all obstacles to free trade» and in particular the obstacle raised by the custom offices. The Commercial Association “Ermis” is established in 1873. The Commercial Association of Ermoupoli was established in 1894 and keeps being operational up to date under the name “Syros Commercial Association”. In 1868, the Export Association “Ermis” was established in Patra, while the Commercial and Import Association of Patra was set up in 1904. The Commercial Association of Piraeus was established in 1900 and its first president was Efstathios Litsikas (1900-1901).
The Commercial Association of Athens was established in 1902 and its first president was Konstantinos Tsatsos (1902-1904). In fact, it represents the continuation of the Commercial and Industry Association set up in 1879. In addition, the Commercial Association of Thessaloniki was established in 1916. Till the end of the 19th century, many commercial associations were gradually established in many cities – commercial hubs of the continental Greece
In the 19th of February 1958, the BoD of the Piraeus Commercial Association invites the presidents of the commercial associations «…to participate in a meeting regarding the Establishment of a Coordination Committee for the Commercial Associations of Greece that will address burning issues…». The resulting Coordination Committee – consisting of presidents from the commercial associations of Athens, Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Patra – constitutes the first collective and nationwide expression of the Greek traders. In the 21st of June 1959, the Piraeus Commercial Association convenes the first nationwide meeting by inviting the presidents of the commercial associations, thus consolidating the setting-up of the Commercial Associations Coordinating Council of Greece (SSESE) consisting of seven members –Athens, Thessaloniki, Piraeus, Patra, Volos, Iraklio, Epirus. This very meeting took place in the 14th of July 1959 and was devoted to the positions of the Hellenic commerce vis-à-vis the implemented economic policy.
This very Coordination Council constitutes the first organised expression of trade unionism in Greece and is progressively enlarged from seven to fifteen members.
The Hellenic Commercial Associations’ Union (ΕΕSΕ), forerunner of the National Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ΕSΕΕ) was founded during the Pan-Hellenic Commercial Congress took place in Xanthi in the 23rd and the 24th of May 1986.
The legal frame and basis for the Hellenic Commercial Associations’ Union statute provides was the L.1712/87: The purpose of the establishment was the development and dissemination of trade union culture amongst the commercial community, the generalised participation in the first level organisations and most of all the regrouping of all traders in a single third level organisation.
The ΕΕSΕ’s tasks focused on:
- monitoring and putting forward proposals regarding fiscal, administrative, industrial, agricultural, labour, commercial aspects, as well as regarding overall financial policy matters.
- pursuing the representation of the commercial community in councils, committees etc.
- informing the public about its positions by any appropriate means (articles, studies, seminars, lectures)
- seeking to support the commercial community by means of credits and contributing to implement economic and social development programmes.
The primary aims of the EESE’s action was its consolidation in the conscience of the commercial community as a spokesman putting across its interests, its acknowledgement by the State as a credible institutional interlocutor and its acceptance by the rest of the professional organisations. The main target of the EESE was the practical recognition by the State of the fact that commerce plays a major role in the development of the Hellenic economy. The commercial enterprises had as principal objective their modernisation in view in particular of the European unification procedure. The above mentioned targets were combined with putting forward the everyday problems faced by the commercial community.
The Union of Commercial Associations of Greece (ΕΕSΕ) had come to the end of the most important part of its eight-year trade union journey. It had achieved to ensure that the voice of the commercial community reached the decision-making centres and to support the commerce community to address its problems. It was about time for the EESE to hand over the responsibility to a superior institution with greater weight and intervention possibilities, i.e. to the National Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE), which was founded in November 1994