Luncheon-debate with Sabine Weyand, Director General for Trade at the European Commission

Yesterday, Tuesday 17 May, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg held a new luncheon debate in Brussels with the presence of Sabine Weyand, Director General for Trade at the European Commission. The event was entitled “Global trade and global traders: old and new challenges for Europe and its industry”.

The event was attended by a diverse group of people, including company managers, delegates from the Autonomous Communities, representatives of Spanish and European organisations, consultants from different areas and various partners of the Chamber of Commerce. AA, representatives of Spanish and European organisations, consultants from different areas and different partners of the Chamber.

The conference was opened by the President of the Chamber, Pablo López-Álvarez, who took the opportunity to thank all those present for their attendance. He then highlighted the extensive career of the speaker Weyand, who holds a PhD in political science from the University of Tübingen and has a long career in the European institutions.

López-Álvarez also took the opportunity to highlight how challenging the current geopolitical context is in relation to world trade and European trade in particular, although he was optimistic, referring to the different trade agreements that already exist in the EU as well as those that are under review for future approval.

The President of the Chamber also introduced Santiago Alfonso, Vice President of Global Communication and Corporate Reputation of Cosentino, the company that sponsored the event. Cosentino Group is a global, Spanish, family-owned company that produces and distributes innovative, high-value surfaces for the world of architecture and design. Alfonso gave a brief review of the different milestones of his company and added the strategic importance that innovation has had over the years for the company, being today the driving force of its competitiveness and differentiation in a global market.

Weyand dedicated her speech to a brief review of the policies of the EC Directorate General for Trade and the current global and European market context deeply influenced by the Covid-19 crisis and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Given the complexity of the current situation, she argued that the EU’s trade strategy, as reflected in the concrete policies pursued by her department, has had to be reviewed to consider new variables and new objectives on issues that have become essential, such as the strategic autonomy of raw materials.

The Director General emphasised how economic sanctions against Russia serve to directly weaken its military power and noted that European companies are often the most affected by these sanctions, for which she thanked them for their commitment in their efforts to put an end to the conflict.

Weyand also stressed the importance of both the private sector and the European institutions coordinating effectively to define regulatory frameworks that favour the legitimate interests of European companies and ensure their competition in a global market.

In relation to the single market, Weyand reflected on the importance of ensuring that European companies can operate on an equal footing with foreign companies. He promoted adjustment tools such as the CBAM, which also serves as a catalyst for boosting the green transition beyond EU borders.

After the presentation, there was a round of questions where participants could make their opinion known and raise different questions about what was presented.

From the Chamber we would like to thank the speaker for accepting our invitation to participate in our #BusinessCircle platform and for her disposition to solve the doubts of the participants, thus encouraging the debate and the exchange of opinions.