13/04 Online Breakfast-Debate with Dolors Montserrat, MEP of the European People’s Party and President of the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament

On Tuesday 13th of April from 9:15h to 10:30h, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organises a new virtual breakfast within the cycle “Breakfast with the European Parliament“, a meeting platform between Spanish companies and the European Parliament. Dolors Montserrat, MEP of the European People’s Party and President of the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament, will participate in the debate. The breakfast will focus on “The priorities of the European People’s Party for this legislature“.

The breakfast will be held in Spanish.

You can register for the breakfast by filling in this reply form.

Online Breakfast-Debate with Cibrán Fernández Silva, member of the Cabinet of Charles Michel, President of the European Council

On Wednesday, 3 March 2021, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a new virtual breakfast-debate in the framework of its “Business Circle” forum. Cibrán Fernández Silva, member of the Cabinet of Charles Michel, President of the European Council, participated in the debate. The topic of the breakfast was: “The priorities of the European Council“.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-president of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed and briefly introduced the speaker and thanked him and all the attendees for their presence.

Cibrán Fernández Silva began his speech thanking those present for their participation and the Chamber for its work to bring the European debates closer to our companies. First of all, he briefly presented the functions of the European Council, such as strategic orientation and impulse, crisis management and resolution, as well as its role as a the institutional framework for ensuring consensus in the strategic lines of the European Union. He also highlighted the figure of the President of the European Council, currently Charles Michel, who represents the Heads of State and Government, ensures consensus among leaders and prepares Summits.

The Cabinet member then highlighted the various priorities of the European Council based on the sections of the Strategic Agenda that was agreed in 2019. The pandemic has, obviously, significantly altered this agenda and new priorities have emerged, such as protecting the Schengen Area, activating the SURE mechanism, making State aid more flexible or managing the difficulties in purchasing equipment or vaccines. The speaker also highlighted the fact that, despite the extremely difficult negotiations in July, the Recovery and Resilience Fund has been a historic milestone in the European project, as demonstrated by the fact that common debt compromises have been taken and major advances have been made in the Union’s own resources.

In terms of priorities, Cibrán Fernández highlighted the green agenda. Its strategic goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and reducing emissions to at least 55% by 2030 have been set by the European Council. The digital transition will aim to generate European digital sovereignty and activate innovation. Recovery funds will play a key role in both transitions and part of the funds of the national reconstruction plans should be allocated to these priorities. At the international level, the speaker also wanted to stress the important agenda of President Michel and the commitment of the leaders to stablish a European strategic sovereignty that is committed to multilateralism, but that has its own recognised international profile as well.

During the question and answer session, the participants were able to express their doubts and comments on numerous issues of interest. Thus, issues such as the role and influence of Spain in the European Council, which leaders generate consensus during Summits, the national recovery plans, the possibility of a common industrial policy or the Conference on the Future of Europe were discussed.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank Cibrán Fernández and all the attendees for their participation.

14/04 Online Breakfast-debate with Vicente Hurtado Roa, Head of Unit of Indirect Taxes other than VAT in the DG TAXUD (Taxation and Customs Union)

On Wednesday April 14th 2021 from 9:15 to 10:30 the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organises a new session of its Breakfast-Debate in the framework of its Business Circle platform. The breakfast will be held by Vicente Hurtado Roa, Head of Unit of Indirect Taxes other than VAT in DG TAXUD (Taxation and Customs Union). The debate will focus on ” The Commission’s Working Program  for 2021 on excise tax issues”.

The breakfast will be held in Spanish.

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

 

Online Breakfast-Debate with Pablo Fábregas Martínez, Member of the Cabinet of Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport

Last Wednesday, February 24th, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a new virtual breakfast-debate in the framework of its “Business Circle” platform. Pablo Fábregas Martínez, Member of the Cabinet of Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport, participated in the debate. The breakfast focused on: “The European Commission’s priorities for mobility and transport in the context of deconfinement”.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed and briefly introduced the speaker, thanking him, along with all those present, for his participation.

Pablo Fábregas Martínez began by thanking those present for their attendance and the Chamber for organizing the event. During his speech, the speaker explained the new sustainable mobility strategy that the Commission presented at the end of last year. This working plan is structured around three main areas: sustainable, smart and resistant mobility, which in turn is divided into ten emblematic initiatives.

In terms of sustainable mobility, Fábregas pointed out that no mode of transport should be excluded, although in some sectors it is more difficult to achieve decarbonisation and emphasized the importance of alternative fuels. Other issues that the Commission is working on, aligned with the Green Deal, are the increase in charging points and the review of the trans-European transport networks.

In relation to intelligent mobility, which is closely related to the Green Deal and the technological transition, he pointed out that the vision of a resilient and fair mobility must be reinforced. Faced with a crisis such as that of Covid-19, in which airlines have canceled much of their services, the safeguarding of travelers’ rights must be prioritized.

Finally, he stressed the importance of increasing traffic safety in order to reduce the number of deaths on the roads. Another point on which they are working is the review of the infrastructures so that they age better and prevent possible accidents.

During question time, attendees were able to express their doubts and comments on numerous issues of interest. Thus, issues such as the reactivation of the tourism sector for the summer, the importance of the railroad in recovery plans or the revision of Co2 standards were discussed.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to warmly thank Pablo Fábregas Martínez and all those present for their participation.

19/03 Online Breakfast-Debate with Álvaro de Elera, Member of the Cabinet of Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Values and Transparency

Next Friday March 19th of 2021 from 9:15 to 10:30, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organises a new session of its Breakfast-Debate in the framework of its Business Circle platform. The breakfast will be presented by Álvaro de Elera, Member of the Cabinet of Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Values and Transparency. The breakfast will focus on “The priorities of the Comission in matters of values and transparency”.

The breakfast will be held in Spanish.

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

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

Last Wednesday February 10th 2021, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg  organised a new virtual breakfast-debate in the framework of its “Business Circle” platform. María Martin-Prat, Director, Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade), Chief Negotiator for EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) participated in the debate. The breakfast focused on “the new agreement between the European Union and China in investments: implications for businesses” and was organized in collaboration with Van Bael & Bellis.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed and thanked the speaker and all the attendees for their participation.

To begin with, Philippe De Baere, partner in Van Bael & Bellis, took the floor to thank the speaker for her presence and for leading the negotiations on the agreement. Following that, he briefly presented the main challenges that the treaty is facing because of the existence of numerous detractors and the lack of a disputes resolution mechanism for investors.

Maria Martín-Prat began her speech by thanking all the attendees and the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce for the possibility of holding this event. During her intervention, the speaker began presented in detail the content of the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) recently reached with the Popular Republic of China. Firstly, the CAI stands out for not being a regular investment protection treaty nor a free trade agreement. The Chief Negotiator explained that the objective of this agreement is to help investors from EU Member States to enter the Chinese market and prevent the problems of arbitrariness and discrimination that they may face, as well as updating the investment legal framework that is currently governed by a multitude of bilateral agreements between the different Member States and China. María Martín-Prat highlighted the enormous relevance of the Chinese market for European businesses with a level of accumulated investments of the EU in China of up to 140 billion euros in the last years in a market of 1.400 million inhabitants with huge investment capacity. It also needs to be taken into account the particularity of the Chinese model and the problems that numerous European businesses have faced in the country regarding access barriers, forced joint ventures and other disadvantages.

Regarding the content of the agreement in itself, the speaker explained that one of the principal objectives is to achieve a level playing field for accessing the market for European investors and acquire from the Chinese side a series of commitments to assure the maximum access under equal conditions in some agreed sectors, always in accordance with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The CAI is part of a much bigger strategy of negotiation with China and of protection of the strategic autonomy of the European Union in the international scene. With this new agreement, China commits to open to the new European investors specific sectors that were, until now, practically closed such as telecommunications, aerial, private health, financial services, research or automobile. Martín-Prat also distinguished as the most important points of the agreement the existence of obligations to prevent the forced transfer of technology, the existence of a rapid reaction mechanism at the highest level, the improvement of transparency in state aid and the labor obligations that China will undertake through the ratification of certain World Labor Organization (WLO) rules. Lastly, the speaker presented the decision process that the agreement will need to follow in the next few months. It will start by publishing the full treaty, then go through legal scrutiny, translation and finally, its submission to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. Although discussions with European co-legislators and civil society are complicated and the fate of the agreement may depend on subsequent political or geopolitical developments, María Martín-Prat was optimistic that it could be quickly validated and put into operation. 

During question time, attendees were able to express their doubts and comments on numerous issues of interest such as anti-dumping regulations, the timing of the agreement, the current and future relationship with the United States in trade, as well as clauses related to copyright and the cultural sector were discussed.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to warmly thank María Martín-Prat for her participation, our member company Van Bael & Bellis  for their collaboration in organizing this event and all the attendees for their presence.

Event sponsored by:

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

Last Thursday January 28th the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a new virtual breakfast-debate in the framework of its “Business Circle” platform.  Nathalie de Basaldúa, Deputy Head of the Cabinet of Mairead McGuinness, Commissioner of Financial services, financial stability and Capital Markets Union, participated in the debate. The breakfast focused on the “Priorities for the Financial Services Agenda in 2021” and was organized in collaboration with the Spanish Banking Association (Asociación Española de Banca – AEB).

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed and thanked the speaker and all the attendees for their participation.

To begin with, José María Roldán, AEB President, member of the Chamber, took the floor to thank the speaker for her availability and those present for their attendance. The President highlighted how, apart from the crisis linked to Covid-19, the mere development, maintenance and updating of the European regulatory framework already entails an activity for the sector in the coming years. José María Roldán also wanted to highlight the importance that the new US administration could have on relations with the EU for the financial sector due to its regulatory influence. Although, for the moment, the current crisis does not seem to have had a critical impact on the financial sector, the reality is that great uncertainty persists, and the sector must be prepared. Finally, the President highlighted the impact of digitalization on the sector and suggested changing the regulatory paradigm from reactivity to prevention to regulate the growing financial role of large digital players.

Nathalie de Basaldúa began her speech by thanking all the organizers and attendees for the possibility of holding this event. The speaker began by highlighting the various initiatives launched by the European Commission during 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, especially by Commissioner McGuinness, such as the European bonds, the Sure program, the mobilization of billions of euros or the quick fix mechanism implemented for the financial sector. The Deputy Head of the Cabinet also focused her speech on the work program scheduled for 2021 and the several dossiers that will be published in a very wide range of areas ranging from the review of existing financial frameworks to the regulation of digital financial areas, including green investments and insurance.

Among the dossiers scheduled for 2021, the banking union, where a consultation has been launched on crisis management and the deposit guarantee framework, or the incorporation of the Basel III agreements, postponed due to the pandemic, stand out. In the digital area, the Commission will launch a proposal to regulate figures such as cryptocurrencies/crypto assets, a digital operational resilience framework and will study the possibility of a digital euro. She also highlighted the anti-money laundering and MFID proposals as well as the regulation of green insurance, sustainable finance and the implementation of an ecolabel and an ecobond. Finally, de Basaldúa emphasized the new reality of financial services after Brexit as they are not covered by the agreement, having to be detailed in a cooperation framework of their own before April 2021. With regard to the new US administration, everything seems to indicate that the change of tone will favour greater cooperation in the area of sustainability and other sectors.

Lastly, during time allotted for questions, attendees were able to express their doubts and comments on numerous issues of interest. Thus, topics such as the dependence of the euro on the London financial centre, the constant review of the different regulations, the uncertainty about the impact of the crisis on SMEs, the regulation of the activity reserve in consumer loans and the Digital Services Act were discussed.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to warmly thank Nathalie de Basaldúa for her participation, our member company the Spanish Banking Association (AEB) for their collaboration in organizing this event and all the attendees for their presence.

In collaboration with:

Online Breaktfast-Debate with Sonia Vila Nuñez, Head of Unit of “Management and Resources”, of the Presidential Service I.D.E.A and Policy Coordinator in the Cabinet of the President von der Leyen and her Deputy Head of Cabinet B. Seibert – Cabinet of the President von der Leyen, European Commission

On Monday 18 January 2021, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a new virtual breakfast debate in the framework of its “Business Circle” platform.  Sonia Vila Nuñez, Head of Unit “Management and Resources” of the Presidential Service I.D.E.A. – Inspire, Debate, Engage and Accelerate Action, European Commission and Policy Coordinator of President von der Leyen and her Head of Cabinet, B. Seibert- President von der Leyen’s Cabinet, participated in the debate. The breakfast focused on the “Priorities of the European Commission for 2021: Impact on Spanish businesses”.

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

Sonia Vila Nuñez began by presenting the I.D.E.A. presidential service as the ambition of the current presidency to bring academic and private sector debates closer to the legislative work of the institutions. She then highlighted the special context in which the European Commission’s Work Programme for 2021 will be developed with a clear priority on implementing the legislative measures taken in 2020. The current Work Programme is based on the need to achieve a rapid economic and social recovery from the pandemic. This will require linking this recovery to the dual, green and digital, transition and to an European resilience based in a strong social agenda and greater strategic autonomy. The Policy Coordinator also highlighted the Commission’s extensive work against Covid-19 and the various contracts signed with up to 7 vaccine manufacturers to cover vaccination in Europe and assistance to less developed countries. The focus was also on the various historical agreements recently reached such as the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, the Next Generation EU recovery fund, and the Brexit agreement. Regarding the recovery funds, the speaker detailed the role of the national recovery plans and their link with the European semester and its country-specific recommendations.

Regarding the Work Programme for 2021, Sonia Vila developed the list of legislative and strategic initiatives that the European Commission plans to carry out in 2021. The Green Deal will continue to be of great importance due to the need to update energy and climate legislation with the new emission reduction targets for 2030. This will be developed through the comprehensive Fit 4 55” legislative package in areas such as taxation, construction, and climate diplomacy, among others. Other initiatives to be presented in 2021 include the border carbon adjustment mechanism and the strategies of 2030 biodiversity, circular economy and “Farm to Fork”. The second of the strategic axes will be the digital transition to achieve the objectives set for 2030. Any legislative development in this area will be based on a commitment with privacy and data control, together with the promotion of connectivity for all as the basis of a European digital identity. The future proposal for the development of a European digital tax and the reform of legislation for people who provide services through digital platforms stand out in this area. Finally, the work programme will also include developments in other areas such as competition law, industrial strategy, banking union, trade policy, social rights, or the building of a new transatlantic relationship.

Afterwards, on behalf of the member company and sponsor of the event Must & Partners, its Senior Partner, Ángel Rebollo, took the floor and thanked the speaker for her participation. He also wanted to emphasize the importance of European recovery funds for Spain, especially in certain sectors, as well as the potential social impact that these may have.

During the question time, the attendees were able to put forward their doubts and comments on numerous issues of interest. Thus, topics such as the European pillar of social rights and its possible link to the care economy, the technological skills deficit for digital transition, digital and energy taxation, or the inclusion of criteria for equality and non-discrimination of people with disabilities in national recovery plans were addressed.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank Sonia Vila Nuñez, our member company Must & Partners for sponsoring this event and all the attendees for their presence.

 

Event sponsored by:

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.