Online Breakfast-Debate with Clara Martínez Alberola, Deputy head of the ‘Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom’ (UKTF)

Last Friday, October 23rd, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a new session of its online Breakfast-Debate in the framework of its Business Circle platform. This event featured Clara Martínez Alberola, Deputy Head of the United Kingdom Task Force (UKTF) of the European Commission. The topic of the debate was Brexit: where are we heading in the future commercial relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom?. 

Pablo López Álvarez, vice-president of the Chamber and event moderator, welcomed and thanked the speaker and all the attendees for their participation.

Then, on behalf of the partner and sponsor of the event, Van Bael & Bellis, Pablo Muñiz, partner of the Brussels office, took the floor and thanked the guest speaker for her participation in the Breakfast-Debate despite her busy schedule. Mr. Muñiz highlighted the growing importance regarding many customs law issues, that were thought to be forgotten, because of Brexit but will surely affect the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Clara Martínez Alberola began by thanking the invitation as an ideal opportunity to continue learning first-hand about the concerns of Member States and the various economic sectors in the Brexit negotiations. The speaker admitted that the negotiating teams are at a critical stage to achieve an agreement given that the transition period after the formal withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union ends on 31 December 2020, with the aggravation of the Covid-19 crisis as a background. Despite the tight deadlines, the EU negotiating team is working tirelessly to reach a fair agreement for both parties based in coherent rules and effective mechanisms for dispute resolution. Martínez outlined the various issues that present more difficulties to reach an agreement as well as the issues where there is greater consensus such as British participation in research programs funded by the EU or police cooperation. Finally, the deputy head of the UKTF stressed that the no-deal scenario would not imply the impossibility of reaching such an agreement in the future in different areas, although it is certainly a much worse scenario than reaching a full agreement on time.

During the question time, the attendees were able to present their doubts and comments on many issues of interest such as the controversy surrounding the internal market protocol for Northern Ireland, the rules of origin in the post-Brexit era, the uncertainty regarding standardization and public procurement, financial supervision or the complexity of customs controls in the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU.

From the Official Chamber of Commerce of Spain in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank Clara Martínez Alberola for her conference, our partner company Van Bael & Bellis for sponsoring this Breakfast-Debate and all those present for their attendance.

Event sponsored by:

Virtual breakfast-debate with MEPs Pilar del Castillo and Lina Gálvez: Priorities of the Committee on Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE)

On September 22nd, the Spanish Official Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg hosted a new event within the cycle “Breakfasts with the European Parliament”, a platform for meetings between Spanish companies and the European Parliament, on the “Priorities of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) for the new term”. The event was attended by MEPs Pilar del Castillo (PP) and Lina Gálvez (PSOE), who belong to the Commission.

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.

Pilar del Castillo began by explaining how the energy sector is facing a wave of innovations related to the application of green energies and the decarbonization of the economy. The Commission has launched several communications on this subject, but has not yet published any legislation. The MEP also stressed the importance of innovation and research, as they are crucial for the whole economy and each of its sectors.

Del Castillo also emphasized the need for the legislative proposal made by the Commission to take into
account the entire value chain of the different industrial sectors. Finally, the speaker addressed the issue of digitization, highlighting that it was already an important issue before the coronavirus crisis, but now more than ever it is an indispensable element since it was the new technologies that sustained the economy and society during the toughest months of the crisis and continue to do so today. These new technologies also have to be applied as added value to the European Union in order to optimize their potential. The new technologies imply very important scales of investment, but they are even more necessary for the evolution of the SMEs.

As a member of the Artificial Intelligence Commission, the MEP also referred to AI as a central element that will revolutionize daily life and the economy, allowing for the optimization of investments and improving the competitiveness of companies. Del Castillo also referred to the importance of data in this process of digitalization, despite the fact that in Europe they are very compartmentalized. Therefore, a common space for European Union data would be necessary, which would be very useful to face, for example, health crises such as the one we are experiencing. All this without forgetting the crucial importance of privacy in this area.

Lina Gálvez took the floor talking, firstly, about the modification of the priorities of the ITRE committee as a result of the crisis of the COVID as well as the energy and digital transition (twin transition), mentioning the decrease in commitment to research and renewal by the EU in the latest budget negotiations, which she considers a big mistake. The MEP also explained how in Europe there has never been a single industrial strategy, although it is clear that there should be as a result of this crisis. Gálvez also stressed the importance of green energy, with the horizon of climate neutrality for 2050 to which not all member countries are at the same point. He also referred to how climate and energy legislation have a central weight in the regulatory agenda of the coming years: hydrogen, electric batteries and the long-term commitment to green energy are some of the items on the agenda.

Gálvez spoke of the power of the EU’s commitment to data strategy to benefit the industrial sector, along with the importance of the spirit of the European Union in the processing of this data, creating a common data strategy for all member countries to use for their benefit. Finally, the MEP stressed the importance of implementing a system so that citizens have rights and knowledge about the use of their personal data.

During the question time, the participants were able to ask several questions on various topics. Thus, topics such as the cuts in EU budgets and their impact on industry, the European Renovation Council, the preparation of the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience, the hopes and priorities of the new Commission on Artificial Intelligence, and finally on the ITRE Commission and its proposals to address the crisis were discussed.

From the Spanish Official Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank Lina Gálvez, Pilar del Castillo, and to all attendees for joining this event.

Virtual Breakfast-Debate with Clara de la Torre, Deputy Director-General of DG CLIMA and Nicolás González Casares, MEP of the ITRE Committee

On 16th July, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg hosted a new session of its Breakfast Debates, a platform aimed for bridging Spanish companies and European Institutions. The event featured Clara de la Torre, Deputy Director-General of DG Clima and Nicolás González Casares, MEP of the ITRE Commission and shadow rapporteur for the European Climate Law, under the title: “Green Deal: Towards a carbon neutral economy for Europe”. Given the exceptional circumstances due to the spread of COVID-19 in Belgium and the social distancing measure in place, this breakfast debate was held online and was attended by representatives of member companies of the Chamber, European affairs director, members of multinational companies and Spanish Regional Delegations.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vicepresident of the Chamber,  welcomed and thanked the speakers as well as all the attendees. He began by presenting the background of the speakers and made a brief introduction. The event was moderated by Igor Idareta from Zabala Innovation Consulting, member company and sponsor of this Breakfast-Debate.

De la Torre began by mentioning the enormous importance of the upcoming European Council meeting to be held this weekend and its links with the “Green Deal”. After the crisis that all countries are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19, the Deputy Director General highlighted the importance of the Green Deal as a growth strategy and a key tool in the recovery of the European Union, without forgetting the goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The economic recovery must be green to achieve a sustainable digital transition based on innovation and new technologies. In this same line, she pointed out the importance of public-private investments to boost a fair transition towards a circular, clean and sustainable energy that will allow our economies to be transformed. In this context, it is important to clarify the taxation of green investments in order to give certainty to companies in their financing. There are encouraging aspects in this context since the economic recovery is not directly linked to polluting emissions as shows the fact that since the 1990s emissions have been reduced by 20% to 30% but our economies have continued to grow. In the same sense, she pointed out that the European Union is the only region in the planet where a legal framework has been established that makes it compulsory to reduce emissions for the next ten years. This regulation is based on the commitment of the Member States to reduce up to 55% polluting gases emissions in order to comply with the Paris agreements. This European initiative has led many countries in the Union to adapt their legal frameworks to this ecological transition. One example would be Spain, that has already published a Climate Law. Finally, the speaker pointed out how this Green Deal is funded on joint action at European level, the support of the Member States and consistent legislation that will make possible to guide this change and achieve the ambitious objectives set.

González Casares emphasized how essential achieving a coordinated action by all Member States is in order to create an European fund for recovery from the pandemic that will enable us to boost the economy again. During his speech, the MEP highlighted the great challenge that the Green Deal still has ahead, a deal that will serve as a multi-tool in the fight against climate change towards ecological and fair sustainability. This agreement also has the support of the European Parliament which is confident that the Green Deal will lead to change in economic, technological and digital policies. The rapporteur also highlighted the need to support innovation as the driving force behind this green transition, through the electrification of transport and, especially, through the promotion of renewable energies. As an example of this new transition, he highlighted the closure of thermal power plants in Spain as a first step towards the decarbonization of the economy. He also stressed the need to protect workers in the impacted sectors so that they are not left out of this ecological transition. To tackle this problem, González Casares mentioned the creation of the Community’s Just Transition Fund, which will make possible a balance between sustainable economic growth and job losses.

During the Q&A time, the participants were able to present their comments and questions on many issues of interest. Thus, various topics were discussed, such as the taxation that will encourage sustainable investments and serve as a reference for the financial sector; the Horizon Europe Initiative; emissions traffic and its impact on the Climate Act; job protection and its consequences on the future remodeling of the labour market or the importance of fossil fuels and the circular economy.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank the speakers Clara de la Torre and Nicolás González Casares as well as to all the participants in this session and our member Zabala Innovation Consulting for sponsoring the event.

Sponsored by:

12/09 Breakfast-debate with Miguel Ceballos Barón, Deputy Head of Cabinet of Cecilia Malmström

On September 12th, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg, in collaboration with Air Europa, organized a breakfast-debate with Miguel Ceballos Barón, Deputy Head of the Cabinet of Cecilia Malmström, who presented “Between commercial wars, the EU and Mercosur conclude an historic agreement”. Different representatives from companies and institutions attended the event.

The focus of the conference was the agreement with Mercosur, a treaty that, like the speaker highlighted, is the biggest commercial agreement concluded so far by the EU. The Member States will be able to benefit from a 4,000 MEUR tariff reduction thanks to this pact. Moreover, the speaker, emphasized other benefits that will entail the agreement, such as the possibility for European products to enter the Mercosur countries with clear advantages over their direct competitors like USA or Japan.  

Likewise, Miguel Ceballos explained that the treaty will enable the protection of more than 350 European designations of origin, which will suppose the largest list of this kind of certificate protected by a commercial agreement. Amongst those, for instance, it is possible to find the “Jamón de Jabugo” designation.

The Deputy Head of the Cabinet of the Commissioner Malmström also spoke about other aspects regarding the current situation of international commerce, such as, the repercussions of the Brexit concerning the agreement with the Mercosur or the effects of this treaty over the international commitments taken in order to protect the environment.

After the presentation, there was a round of questions where the participants were able to raise their doubts about this new agreement.

In collaboration with: