10/02 Online Breakfast-Debate with María-Martin Prat, Director, Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade), Chief Negotiator for EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI).

On Wednesday, February 10th from 9:15am to 10:30am, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organizes a new session of its Breakfast-Debate in the framework of its Business Circle platform.

The breakfast will count on the participation of María-Martin Prat, Director, Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade), Chief Negotiator for EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI).

More details about the topic of the event will coming soon.

You can sign up for this breakfast through this reply form

The breakfast will be held in Spanish.

Event sponsored by:

17/02 Breakfast-debate with Beatriz de Guindos Talavera, Director of Competition of the CNMC

On Wednesday 17 February from 9:00 to 10:30, the  Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg is organising its second event in the framework of the Working Commission “Competencia España”, the purpose of which is to address specific issues of competition law and policy that may affect the Chamber’s member companies.

The virtual breakfast debate will be attended by Beatriz de Guindos Talavera, Director of Competition of the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC- National Commission on Markets and Competition of Spain). De Guindos will talk about the imminent reform of the Competition Law as a result, among other aspects, of the transposition of the ECN+ Directive.

These meetings are intended to be a platform for debate in “neutral territory” between companies, lawyers and consultants associated with the Chamber with officials from the DG Competition, the CNMC and members of the Spanish and European judiciary.

The breakfast will be held in Spanish.

Exclusive event for the members of “Competencia España”.

1/28: Online Breakfast-debate with Nathalie de Basaldúa, Deputy Head of the Cabinet of Mairead McGuinness, Commissioner of Financial services, financial stability and Capital Markets Union

On Thursday, January 28th from 9:15am to 10:30am, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organizes a new session of its Breakfast-Debate in the framework of its Business Circle platform.

The breakfast will count on the participation of Nathalie de Basaldúa, Deputy Head of the Cabinet of Mairead McGuinness, Commissioner of Financial services, financial stability and Capital Markets Union. The breakfast will be focused on “Priorities for the Financial Services Agenda in 2021“.

You can sign up for this breakfast through this reply form.

The breakfast will be held in Spanish.

In collaboration with:

Online Breakfast-Debate with Ricard Ramón i Sumoy, Deputy Head of Unit of DG Agriculture of the European Commission and Mazaly Aguilar, Vice-president of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament

On Thursday December 3rd 2020, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a new virtual breakfast-debate within the framework of its “Business Circle” platform. The breakfast focused on “Towards a new agri-food model. The implications of the ‘From Farm to Fork’ strategy in the Spanish agri-food sector”. Ricard Ramón i Sumoy, Deputy Head of Unit of DG-Agri at European Commission, took part in the debate, which was moderated by Mazaly Aguilar, Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. A discussion panel was then opened with Jose Carlos Caballero from Alianza Rural, Gabriel Trenzado, Director of European Union Affairs in Cooperativas Agroalimentarias de España and Juan Carlos Gallego, Farmer.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-President of the Chamber, made a brief introduction of the sector in our country and thanked all those present for their participation.

Mazaly Aguilar, Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and moderator of the event, introduced the different speakers and highlighted the importance of the agri-food sector and the farmers for our country due to its economic weight and territorial importance.

Ricard Ramón i Sumoy, Deputy Head of Unit of the European Commission’s DG-Agri, began his speech by explaining how the European Commission has worked hard to maintain a strong Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) based on direct allowances for farmers, which also involves maintaining the continuity and viability of agricultural holdings without forgetting responsible soil management in the medium term. The rapporteur highlighted how the agricultural sector is the first to be affected by climate change and the environmental challenges of sustainability.

In the current framework of the Green Deal, which aims to lead and accelerate the transformations needed to address the current climate emergency, the Commission is working on the Farm to Fork Strategy to address all these challenges.

This strategy is based on establishing common efforts and objectives for the whole Union and involves various legislative changes such as reducing the use of pesticides and fertilisers, promoting the organic sector in line with the market or reducing the use of medicines without forgetting the fundamental European strategic priority of defending biodiversity.

At the international level, it is hoped that European agri-food standards will be expanded internationally and will be a fundamental axis in the assessment of relations with third countries. Finally, Ramón i Sumoy highlighted the enormous opportunity represented by the recovery funds to undertake the changes and investments necessary to accelerate the indispensable transformation in various areas of the sector.

After the first intervention, the various guests at the discussion table were able to react, highlighting various aspects such as the importance of fund all legislation in scientific facts, the disjunction in terms of yields between organic and traditional agriculture, the need to focus on solutions for the sector rather than mere prohibitions, the role that technology will play in the transformation or the difficulty in measuring and quantifying the impacts on the sector.

The discussion panel was then opened to debate on various issues such as the challenges and opportunities posed by environmental regulations, the need to understand and adapt to the consumer, generating the right environment to take advantage of opportunities, as well as the impact of the Green Deal on relations with third countries.

Throughout the event, the attendees were able to express their doubts, questions, and comments on numerous issues of interest. Thus, topics such as the impact of European regulation in third countries where local conditions were not taken into account, the compatibility of European environmental standards with WTO rules, the adaptation of the CAP to the different territories, as well as the challenges of the sector to have profitability and fair prices that allow its viability were addressed.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank all the speakers for their participation, as well as all those present for their attendance.

Virtual breakfast-debate with MEPs José Ramón Bauzá Díaz and Isabel García Muñoz: Priorities of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN)

On Wednesday November 25th, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a new conference as part of the “Breakfasts with the European Parliament“, a meeting platform between Spanish companies and the European Parliament, on “The priorities of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) for the new legislature”. The event was attended by MEPs José Ramón Bauzá Díaz (Renew Europe) and Isabel García Muñoz (S&D).

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed and thanked the speakers for their participation and made a brief presentation.

José Ramón Bauzá began his speech by highlighting the radical change in the priorities and perspectives of all the European institutions following the Covid-19, including the Committee on Transport and Tourism. If in an early stage of the legislature the main priority was the Green Deal and the commitment to climate neutrality by 2050, in the wake of the pandemic, the absolute priority has become the urgent recovery of the two sectors most affected: transport and tourism. The MEP also stressed the need to achieve a safe and clean transport sector by providing sufficient funding for innovative decarbonisation technologies such as liquid gas, electric motors and hydrogen. With regard to tourism, Mr. Bauzá highlighted the enormous importance of the tourism sector for Spain, as it means around 15% of the GDP as well as millions of jobs, and the close relationship between the tourism and transport sectors. Despite this importance, there is no budget allocation at European Union level for investment in tourism, although the Parliament is working to achieve this.

During her speech, Isabel García Muñoz explained the strategic importance of the transport sector as a mechanism for territorial cohesion, external competitiveness and promoting economic growth. In the current framework of transition towards climate neutrality, a fair transition is necessary, which will involve sustainable, intelligent and inclusive mobility for everyone. Therefore, the European Commission is working on a new “white book” on transport and will promote certains means of transport such as inland navigation or railways through the single European railway area. The MEP also highlighted the need to achieve a full recovery of the tourism and transport sector through a commitment to digitalisation, retraining of workers and the interoperability and intermodality of transport.

During the question time, the participants were able to ask several questions on various topics. Thus, topics such as the Horizon Europe programmes or the single european airspace, the viability and transformation of airlines, investment funds in infrastructure or accessibility for people with disabilities in the air or rail sectors were discussed.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank José Ramón Bauzá and Isabel García Muñoz and all those present for their participation.

Online Breakfast-Debate with Francisco Casalduero, Project Manager, Defence Development Programme, DG DEFIS: “The European Defence Fund: the European Commission’s view on the opportunity for Spanish industry”

On Thursday 19th November 2020, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a new virtual breakfast debate in the framework of its “Business Circle” platform. The breakfast focused on “The European Defence Fund: the European Commission’s View on the Opportunity for Spanish Industry” and Francisco Casalduero, Project Manager, Defence Development Programme (DG DEFIS), European Commission was the guest speaker.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vicepresident of the Chamber and event moderator, welcomed and thanked the speakers and all the attendees.

Afterwards, on behalf of the member company and sponsor of the event, SENER, Fernando Horcada, Head of the Representative Office in Brussels, Director EU and NATO Programmes, took the floor and thanked the speaker. Horcada highlighted SENER’s long history in the field of defence both at a national level and through NATO. First of all, he wanted to clarify that the future European Defence Fund (EDF) will not be part of the European recovery mechanism (Next Generation EU) but of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) 2021-2027. The EDF will mean that for the first time European Union funds can be devoted to the defence sector due to a change in the position of the Member States as a result of the need to generate greater strategic autonomy for the EU as a result of geopolitical changes such as Brexit or the position of the US administration with respect to the financing of defence in Europe.

Francisco Casalduero began by summarising the history of some pilot programmes such as the Preparatory Action on Defence Research and the current European defence industrial development programme (EDIDP). Both these pilot programmes and the future European Defence Fund (EDF) are devoted exclusively to research and development of military capabilities, never to training or the acquisition of assets by Member States. Furthermore, these European projects are distinguished from other European programmes in that they are based on exclusively military requirements and aspects. These defence sector projects are based on innovation and cooperation between entities from several Member States, which is at the same time their greatest asset and challenge. The development of the EDIDP 2019 has yielded interesting figures that invite optimism regarding the future EDF: an average of 14 entities from 7 Member States take part in the projects, including a significant number of SMEs, in which Spain plays a very important role with a success rate of approximately 60%. The speaker detailed the status of negotiations on the future European Defence Fund (EDF), which will form part of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021-2027 and is therefore pending agreement between the European Parliament and the Council. The future EDF will be based on a work programme planned for the spring and will go beyond the classic military areas (land, sea, air) and will also integrate new areas such as cyber security, space and digital clusters.

During the round of questions, the attendees were able to put forward their doubts and comments on several areas of interest. Topics such as the eligibility of technologies and civilian technology centres for programmes in this field, the orientation of the programmes towards the Commission’s political priorities (Green Deal or digitalisation), the position of NRBC technologies in the future EDF, the facilities for applying to calls for proposals or participating in consortiums, and the continuity of projects between the various defence programmes were therefore addressed.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank Francisco Casalduero, our partner company SENER Aerospace for sponsoring this event and all those present for their participation.

Event sponsored by:

Virtual breakfast-debate with MEP César Luena López: Priorities of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)

On Friday 13th November 2020, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a new conference as part of the “Breakfasts with the European Parliament” cycle, a platform for meetings between Spanish companies and the European Parliament. The breakfast focused on “The priorities of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) for the new legislature” and was attended by MEP César Luena López, vice-president of the Committee.

 Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-president of the Chamber and moderator of the event, made a brief introduction of the speaker to whom he thanked for his participation as well as all the attendees.

César Luena López began his speech by emphasizing the recent approval of the European Parliament’s position on the European Climate Law. This position includes a series of binding targets for Member States and the Union as a whole with the aim of reducing emissions by 60% by 2030, establishing intermediate targets for 2040 and finally achieving climate neutrality on the continent by 2050. The speaker also wanted to highlight from this draft legislation, which now moves to negotiations under trilogues, the implementation of a budget linked on carbon and a European council on climate change. The rapporteur on the European strategy for biodiversity gave a few insights on the dossier that will establish binding targets, generate a paradigm shift in consumption or adaptation of agriculture and fisheries with appropriate budget support. This biodiversity strategy must be based on funding of at least an additional 10% apart from the existing climate funds and address issues such as legal protection of soil and the management of invasive alien species in our ecosystems.

During the question time, the attendees were able to present their doubts and comments on many issues of interest. Thus, topics such as improving collaboration between sectors involved in animal health, the strategy “farm to fork”, the latest trends in Brexit or the potential impact of U.S. elections on environmental issues were discussed.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank César Luena López and all those present for their participation.

 

Online Breakfast-Debate with Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Director of Energy Policy at DG ENER of the European Commission: The role of European energetic policy in achieving the objectives of the Green Deal

On Tuesday 10th November, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a new virtual breakfast debate within the framework of its “Business Circle” platform. The breakfast focused on “The role of European energetic policy in achieving the objectives of the Green Deal” and Cristina Lobillo, Director of Energy Policy at DG ENER of the European Commission was the guest speaker.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vicepresident of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed and thanked the speakers as well as all the attendees.

Afterwards, on behalf of the member company and sponsor of the eventRepsol, its Director of Institutional Affairs Spain & Europe, Marta Camacho Parejo, took the floor and thanked the speaker. Camacho highlighted the groundbreaking commitment of Repsol to the fight against climate change, as demonstrated by the fact of being the first energy company to commit to climate neutrality by 2050 or to sign the Kyoto Protocol. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, the enterprise is committed to a change of paradigm that involves the circular economy, technological neutrality, and the concept of the ‘refinery of the future’, based on hydrogen and synthetic fuels. Marta also pointed out urban fuels and biofuels as the necessary path for a relatively rapid decarbonisation of our economies, that will allow us to meet emission reduction and climate neutrality targets. Finally, she concluded by highlighting the value of industrial hubs in order to generate an innovative European industry that is a source of employment and economic value.

Cristina Lobillo Borrero began by outlining the strategy followed by the Commission over the last decade in terms of reduction of greenhouse gases, such as the reduction targets for 2020, the energy regulatory packages since 2007, and the Paris Agreement.Today, we face a scenario of renewed climate ambition.As a result of this ambition, the current European Commission made an ambitious commitment to reduce emissions by 55% for 2030 and achieve climate neutrality for the continent by 2050 through the Green Deal. Also, in this regard, the Commission launched the proposal for a Climate Law, currently under negotiation, as well as the implementation of a fair transition mechanism to assist with investments and adequate funds for those sectors that need more renovation or will be most affected.

Lobillo also put emphasis on the work being done by the Commission. They are working to propose in the work programme for 2021 a whole range of legislation that also includes the revision of some energy directives.  All this from a realistic approach based on impact studies. The speaker also explain the link between the recovery fund (Next Generation EU) and the Commission’s priorities, since obtaining these funds will be linked to the objectives of the Green Deal, the digital transition and the European semester. Finally, Lobillo highlighted the international reality in which it is more necessary than ever for the EU, which produces barely 9% of global emissions, to remain active in international forums in order to ensure that the major economic centres also commit to climate neutrality.

During the round of questions, the participants were able to express their doubts and comments on many areas of interest. Thus, topics such as the capacity of Member States to absorb all recovery funds given their volume, the proposals for the border adjustment mechanism with regard to carbon or the European hydrogen strategy or the renewal of the gas sector were discussed.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank Cristina Lobillo Borrero, our member company Repsol for sponsoring this event and all attendees for joining this event.

Event sponsored by:

Online-Breakfast Debate: “European Recovery Plan: Current situation and future perspectives”

On Thursday 5 November, the  Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a new virtual breakfast debate in the framework of its “Business Circle” platform, which focused on the “European Recovery Plan: current status and perspectives” and featured Enrique Verdeguer Puig, Counsellor of Economy in the Spanish Representation to the EU, Marta Marin Sanchez, Delegate of the Basque Country to the EU and Patricia Cirez Miqueleiz, Permanent Delegate of the CEOE to the EU.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-president of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed and thanked the speakers and all those present for their participation.

Next, on behalf of the partner company and sponsor of the event, Ruth Estrada, partner in Schuman Associates, took the floor. Estrada initially stressed the unprecedented scale of the recovery funds under the Next Generation EU funds for a total of 750.000 million euros, of which Spain will be the second country to benefit most with 140.000 million, which represents 1.8% of the European Union’s GDP and around 70% of the 2020-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework. These investments, which are eminently public, must go hand in hand with public-private collaboration in order to immediately face the economic consequences of the current pandemic and, in the medium and long term, comply with the Union’s strategic objectives regarding the decarbonisation and digital transition of our economies. Estrada also wanted to highlight the fact that these European investments will be managed at the level of the Member States through national budgets.

 

Enrique Verdeguer Puig began his speech by describing the latest developments in the Next Generation EU’s negotiation, which are part of a broader debate with the Multi-annual Financial Framework and are complicated by certain sensitive points such as the rule of law or its link with other European programs. From the Council of the European Union, Member States have already concluded the appropriate agreements and everything is on track for the imminent opening of negotiations with the European Parliament through the trilogues. Despite the progress made in the negotiations and the general optimism, there are some specific points which are causing concern among the Union’s partners, such as the governance of payments in complex administrative contexts such as Spain, and the European Commission’s audit and control mechanisms over these funds. In this particular context, the Spanish administration is in constant dialogue with the European Commission through the competent task force. Finally, the Counsellor of Economy wanted to highlight the approval scheme that the Member State will have to go through before receiving the payments, such as the presentation of the national plans (until April) that will have to be linked to the recommendations of the European semester and the medium-term objectives of the European Union.

Secondly, Marta Marin Sánchez took the floor and referred to the need for the Autonomous Communities to be features within Spain’s national plan in those areas of their competence such as health, employment and education. The Basque Government Delegate in Brussels wanted to highlight how part of the recovery funds should be channelled to the Autonomous Communities through transfers from the state level and then implemented under programs or tenders that fit in with other strategic projects. In this scheme, it is also important to take into account the local level in order to try to adapt investments as much as possible to the terrain, and this is where opportunities for public-private partnerships can arise.

Thirdly, Patricia Cirez Miqueleiz made an intervention, presenting the business perspective on the Next Generation EU. The permanent delegate wanted to highlight the effort being made by CEOE to disseminate the opportunities presented by these funds for the private sector through the opening of a technical office and the creation of a digital platform to address the concerns of Spanish companies. In order to efficiently optimise these funds, it will be necessary to reform the administrative regulations in Spain to limit or shorten the deadlines and requirements of some administrative mechanisms given the size of the investments and the short time frame for their execution. Cirez also highlighted the fact that these funds must go hand in hand with structural reforms in areas such as the labour market, maintenance of pensions or ecological and digital transformation in order to comply with the recommendations of the European semester. Furthermore, these funds must not lose sight of recovery in the short term and must therefore be urgently directed towards the most affected sectors by the Covid crisis.

During the time for questions, the attendees were able to express their doubts and comments on numerous issues of interest such as the reduction of the administrative burden for companies that participate in these mechanisms, the different sensitivities present in the negotiations, the possibilities of public-private collaboration that includes the third sector, as well as the objectives of convergence and integration of the European Union in the recovery funds.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank Enrique Verdeguer Puig, Marta Marin Sánchez and Patricia Cirez Miqueleiz for their participation, and our partner company Schuman Associates for sponsoring this breakfast debate and all those present for their attendance.

Virtual breakfast-debate with Carles Esteva, Deputy Director General of DG Competition at the European Commission

Last Thursday, October 22nd, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized its first event within the framework of the Work Commission “Competencia España”, with the purpose to address specific issues of competition law and policy that may affect the member companies of the Chamber. The virtual breakfast-debate included the attendance of Carles Esteva, Deputy Director General of the DG Competition at the European Commission.

Juan Rodriguez-Villa and Pablo López Álvarez, respectively President and Vice-President of the Chamber, gave a welcome speech and thanked the attendees for their support to the Chamber’s working group “Competencia España“.

 

Miguel Troncoso,  managing partner of Gómez-Acebo & Pombo in Brussels and Chairman of the Commission, introduced Carles Esteva and reviewed his extensive professional career and thanked him for his participation in this first event of the Commission.

Esteva explained the challenges currently faced by the Commission and its projects, and outlined the main existing State aids. During the question time, the attendees were able to express their doubts and comments on numerous issues of interest.

These meetings are intended to be a platform for discussion in “neutral territory” between companies, lawyers and consultants associated with the Chamber with officials from the DG Competition, the CNMC and members of the Spanish and European judiciary.