Online Breakfast-debate with José Antonio Zamora, Coordinating Counselor for Trade of the Permanent Representation of Spain to the EU

On Wednesday 16 of June, 2021, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized another virtual debate in the scope of its platform Business Circle”, a meeting platform between Spanish companies to their institutional representatives. In this debate took part José Antonio Zamora, Coordinating Counsellor for Trade of the Permanent Representation of Spain to the European Union.

The topic of this debate hinged on “Where is the EU trade policy heading, prospects after the US-EU Summit”.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed the participants and briefly presented the speaker, whose presence and the participants’ appreciated.

José Antonio Zamora briefly discussed in the first place the EU “open autonomy” concept and the Spanish role in terms of commercial openness.

Thereupon the speaker explained the different results of the US-EU Summit, underlining the different changes in the relationship with the new Biden administration. In general, he highlighted in a positive way the new agenda, which includes propositions such as the new Bilateral Council for Commerce and Technology, the resolution of disputes between Boeing and Airbus, new investment controls and different actions regarding cybersecurity.

He also mentioned the progress made towards the reduction disputes introduced by the former US administration, by engaging in talks to solve the commercial war with the EU through tariffs reduction in the steel and aluminium sector, as well as, in digital and technological sectors.

Regarding the UE commercial relations with other countries, Zamora explained the good relationship with MERCOSUR countries, Mexico and Chile, with some bilateral agreements already closed or in their final stages, as well as future collaborations to be explored with Australia and New Zealand. India is also included among the countries which proposed to explore new commercial treaties by 2024, although with certain reservations from EU officials.

Finally, the speaker set some pending challenges after the EU- US Summit, such as the restoration of the Open Method for Coordination (OMC) functioning, currently blocked by the US, or the resolution of positions regarding the vaccines’ intellectual property liberalization by the US.

During the questioning time, the participants were able to express their doubts and to make comments about numerous matters of interest. Thus, different topics were discussed such as the OECD bilateral commercial agreement, the changes in the Biden administration in respect to the former one, the MERCOSUR agreement’ elements to be improved or the differences between the new India proposition and the former one and finally the US position in terms of pharmaceutical intellectual property liberalization.

The Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg would like to heartly express its gratitude to José Antonio Zamora for his participation in the debate and to all participants for their presence.

Online Breakfast-Debate with Luis Garicano, MEP, Head of Ciudadanos Delegation to the European Parliament, Vice-President and Economic Coordinator of Renew Europe

On Friday the 4th of June 2021, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a virtual debate within the scope of its platform “Desayunos con la Eurocámara”(Breakfast with the Eurochamber), created with the aim of bringing the EU Parliament´s debates closer to Spanish companies. As part of these debates we invited MEP Luis Garicano, Head of Ciudadanos Delegation to the European Parliament, Vice-President and Economic Coordinator of Renew Europe.

The topic of this debate was “The priorities of the Renew Europe group for this legislature”.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed the participants and briefly presented the speaker, whose presence, together with the participants’, he acknowledged.

MEP Garicano analyzed, in the first place, the current situation of the Next Generation European recovery funds as well as the establishment of a Resiliency and Control Mechanism by the European Commission.

The speaker positively assessed the consensus reached within the Renew Europe group in these matters, as well as the responsibility of the Spanish and Italian representatives to show the efficiency of NGEU and React EU funds.

Thereupon MEP Garicano highlighted the different spending criteria and conditions established by the European Commission and supervised by the European Council through the European Semester. He also highlighted the low materialization achieved in matters such as the maintenance of market unity and the importance of complying with the required measures in social services and employment.

Next, the speaker explained the different transparency accomplishments of Renew Group in the European Parliament, regarding supervision, access and control rights by the Antifraud Office and the European Court of Auditors. Additionally, MEP Garicano expressed his concern about the European recovery funds management. In this sense, he centered his speech on the funds oriented at training programs or the low investment in youth employment.

During the Q&A session, the participants were able to express their doubts and to make comments about numerous matters of interest. Thus, different topics were discussed such as the lack of competition in certain technological sectors in Spain comparing to other European countries, the PERTE allocation criteria, SME’s position to access these aid funds, regulatory challenges in the European liberalization of the telecommunications sector and finally the disparities between the allocation of European funds.

Finally, MEP Garicano concluded his intervention by highlighting the lack of political consensus as one of the main barriers to an effective European funds’ distribution, which were closely analyzed.

The Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg would like to wholeheartedly express its gratitude to MEP Luis Garicano for his participation in the debate and to all participants for their presence.

 

Online Breakfast-Debate with Nicolás González Casares, MEP, Member of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer and of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and substitute for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

On 2nd of June 2021, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a virtual debate within the scope of its platform “Desayunos con la Eurocámara”(Breakfast with the EuroChamber), created with the aim of bringing the EU Parliament´s debates closer to Spanish companies. As part of these debates, the MEP Nicolás González Casares, member of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA), the Commission of Industry, Research and Energy and substitute in the Commission of Environment, Public Health and Food Safety was invited.

The topic of this debate was “The role of the BECA Committee in the European plan to fight cancer”

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed the participants and briefly presented the speaker, whose presence, together with the participants’, he acknowledged.

Nicolás González discussed, in the first place, the importance of BECA Commission to design strategies to prevent cancer expansion within the European Union.

Thereupon the speaker highlighted the different inequalities originated since the start of the pandemic regarding early cancer diagnosis and access to treatment amongst member states, especially in southern and eastern Europe, and explained the important work carried out by the BECA Committee, created in June 2020, in terms of implementing prevention measures.

 MEP González also highlighted the actions carried out by the Commission regarding the fight against tobacco, presenting the importance of advancing the revision of the EU Commission directive scheduled for 2023.

Following on, the speaker explained the different key dates established by the Committee, such as the deadline for the draft proposal, scheduled for the 17th of June, amendments presentation on the 14th of September or the final vote to be casted on the 6th of December, prior to the Committee’ dissolution the 23rd of December.

During the Q&A session, the participants were able to express their doubts and to make comments about numerous matters of interest. Thus, different topics were discussed such as the importance of implementing shared health data systems, the roles of tobacco’ alternatives, the effect of diets on the mitigation of possible carcinogenic effects of wine, the Spanish anti tobacco law’ effectiveness, the European Medicines Agency or the European vaccination card’ implementation.

In his view, the creation of databases at an European level with the aim of reducing inequalities between member states is fundamental, as well as exploiting the increase in vaccine production capability derived from the pandemic.

The speaker also expressed his wish to give continuity to the Committee once dissolved the 23rd of December through a constant dialogue with the European Commission in order to propose legislative initiatives, such as new product labeling obligations on alcoholic beverages. He also expressed the importance of the EU to coordinate and establish wide political lines in public health policy, as well as its duty to expand these activities amongst all member states.

The Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg would like to wholeheartedly express its gratitude to the  MEP Nicolás González for his participation in the debate and to all participants for their presence.

Online Breakfast-Debate with Javier Moreno Sánchez, MEP of the Group Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats of the European Parliament.

On Tuesday the 11th of May, 2021 the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized another virtual debate in the scope of its platform Desayunos con la Eurocámara”(Breakfast with the Eurochamber), created with the objective to bring the EU Parliament debates closer to Spanish companies. As part of this debates MEP Javier Moreno Sánchez was invited  from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

The topic of this debate was Priorities of European Socialist parties for this political term”.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed the participants and briefly presented the speaker, whose presence, together with the participants’, he acknowledged.

Javier Moreno briefly discussed in the first place the fast and agile pandemic’ management by the European Union, remarking the important task undertaken by the Parliament and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the health emergency funds’ unblocking in March of 2020 and during the pandemic.

MEP Moreno also highlighted the good response provided against the challenged occurred during this historical year, such as the Brexit negotiation and the health situation, together with preserving democracy and rule of law in the different member states.

Thereupon the speaker explained the different priorities of his group. As top priority, he highlighted the recovery of social life through the European vaccination campaign, together with the facilitation of European mobility through the so-called Covid Certificate. He also underlined the vital importance of implementing the economic recovery plans with an economic and digital transformation scope, while taking into account gender equality and creating job opportunities for the younger generations.

The speaker also established immigration policy management as one of his Group’s main challenge, which will rely on the Blue Card initiative, with the objective of facilitating the arrival of highly qualified workers. MEP Moreno also defined CAP reform as a main challenge in which the group is actively involved.

During the Q&A session, the participants were able to express their doubts and to make comments about numerous matters of interest. Thus, different topics were discussed such as the European card for disabled people, the challenges and opportunities derived from MERCOSUR changes or the Conference on the Future of Europe.

From the speaker’s point of view, it is critical to take advantage of the opportunities from the pandemic to reinforce the EU commercial position in South America, as well as transmitting to the EU citizens the successful implementation of initiatives such as the Conference on the Future of Europe in order to encourage a higher participation in the upcoming EU election. Regarding the European card for disabled people, the speaker remarked that the delegation is hearing societies’ needs through amendments to facilitate the Covid Certificate to disabled people, as well as streamline the implementation of the European card for this group of people.

The Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg would like to wholeheartedly express its gratitude to MEP Javier Moreno for his participation in the debate and to all participants for their presence.

 

Online Breakfast-Debate with Mirzha de Manuel, Member of the Cabinet of Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis for an Economy that Works for People.

Last Friday April 23 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. Mirzha de Manuel, Member of the Cabinet of Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis for an Economy that Works for People in the European Commission, participated in the debate. The topic of the breakfast was Post-Covid economic recovery perspectives and the role of the Recovery and Resilience Facility.”

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.

Mirzha de Manuel began by explaining the great success of the 100 billion investment launched by the EU. This recovery plan to overcome the economic and social struggles caused by the coronavirus pandemic was agreed by the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU leaders. This plan, unprecedented in its scale and content, contains short and long-term goals that are very important for Member States to generate sustained and sustainable growth. In addition, he stressed that all investments made by Member States related to the economic recovery from the pandemic are eligible for funding under various EU mechanisms, such as the SURE program. Finally, de Manuel stressed the importance of social dialogue as a frame of reference for tackling current problems, drawing up recovery plans and ensuring that the solutions have strong social backing.

During the Q&A session, attendees were able to express their doubts and comments on numerous issues of interest. Thus, issues such as the importance of the consultation of the recovery plans, the degree of development of the recovery and resilience plans, the Commission’s view on the draft presented by Spain as well as the opportunity to make a more European format for the post-covid recovery strategy were discussed.
The Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg would like to thank Mirzha de Manuel and all the attendees for their participation.

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

Last Friday April 16th 2021, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a new virtual breakfast-debate in the framework of its “Breakfast with the European Parliament” framework, a platform to bring European Parliament debates closer to our companies. Dolors Monserrat, MEP of the European People’s Party (EPP) and Chair of the Petitions Committee, took part in the debate.

The topic of the breakfast was “The priorities of the European People’s Party for this legislature”.

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

Dolors Monserrat first briefly addressed the priority of health and jobs and their complementarity for the European People’s Party. She stressed that Europe is experiencing the greatest crisis since the Second World War and that the EU needs to work resolutely to overcome the consequences of this crisis. The objective of the EU action and the strategy led by the EPP is to limit the economic and social impact of the crisis as much as possible.

Then, Dolors highlighted the different priorities of the EPP parliamentary group. These priorities include first the health field, followed by the economic field with decisive support for the most affected sectors (industry, tourism, SMEs, etc.) and promoting Europe’s leadership in the world during the current crisis.

She also underlined the enormous importance of the European recovery funds for Spain in order to face a new industrialisation (R&D) and modernisation of its economy. She also stressed the importance of stable job creation for a successful economic recovery for all Member States.

During the Q&A session, attendees were able to express their doubts and comments on numerous issues of interest. Thus, topics such as doubts about the vaccination plan in Spain, the elimination of inequalities for people with disabilities in the management of medical data (Big Data) or the difficulties encountered by Spanish companies in finding information on available European funds were discussed.

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

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

 

Last Wednesday April 14th 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. Vicente Hurtado Roa, Head of unit for indirect taxes other than VAT at DG TAXUD (Taxation and Customs Union) participated in the debate.
The topic of the breakfast was “The Commission’s work programme for 2021 on excise tax issues”.

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.
Vicente Hurtado first briefly explained excise taxes, their regulation and the directives currently in force. He gave a brief overview of the activities of his unit since 2019 in terms of review, evaluation and new proposals on current legislation to adapt it to the new priorities of the Commission.

Hurtado then outlined the different parts of DG TAXUD’s work programme on excise tax issues. Firstly, he spoke of the importance of environmental impact taxes and the possibility of expanding this tax to imports from third countries that are unregulated or have a higher risk of carbon leakage. He also stressed the importance of updating the current directives on fossil fuels imported from third countries to bring them into line with Green Deal regulations.

The speaker also highlighted the Commission’s priority in the fight against cancer, which is based on the imperative of reducing the risks that cause cancer, such as tobacco consumption, which is regulated by excise taxes.
Mr Hurtado explained the work of his unit on the creation of a regulation for alternative products to tobacco, the importance of regulating fraud when it comes to cross-border purchases and the desire to make the control of these issues more effective.

During the Q&A session, attendees were able to express their doubts and comments on numerous issues of interest. Topics such as the new categories of smokeless tobacco and their regulation and the impact of regulations on energy imports from third countries were discussed.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank Vicente Hurtado Roa for his participation and all the attendees for their presence.

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

Last Friday, March 19th 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. Álvaro de Elera, member of the Cabinet of Věra Jourová, Vice President and Commissioner for Values and Transparency, participated in the debate. The topic of the breakfast was: “Priorities of the European Commission in values and transparency“.

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

Álvaro de Elera began his intervention by detailing the different thematic areas under Vice President Jourová’s portfolio. This portfolio is managed in a very complex context when our democratic systems face significant threats. Understanding that the defence of the founding values ​​of the European project is the defence of the European Union, the Von der Leyen Commission decided to give relevance to the portfolio in areas previously excluded from the EU debate. The speaker began by explaining how values ​​and transparency, a priori ethereal matters, have a real impact on the daily lives of citizens in areas such as accountability, competitiveness, the right to information, etc. It is also clear that there are significant problems in this area which, while reduced to a few Member States, have a huge impact on the whole of Europe and are against European values.

The Cabinet member explained the different Commission proposals in the area, such as the Action Plan for European Democracy, the defence of media pluralism or the protection of the rule of law. With regard to the rule of law, a regulation linking European funding to respect for the rule of law will soon enter into force, this is of particular relevance for national plans for Recovery and Resilience funds. Another area where the Commission is working intensively is in the protection of media pluralism in various fields, which includes the physical protection of journalists or the supervision of all measures that may have an impact on such pluralism. In the area of ​​disinformation, the Commission works to enhance accountability for foreign interference, as well as for digital platforms to assume their share of responsibility for the dissemination of disinformation.

Another of the points addressed by Álvaro de Elera was transparency at the European level, both institutional transparency of the Commission and the regulation of the transparency register for lobbying activity. The Von der Leyen Commission works to improve the accountability and transparency of the institution in terms of its composition, expenditures and provisions, through strict internal rules. Regarding the activity of lobbying or transparency registry, the speaker highlighted the inter-institutional agreement recently reached to expand the scope of the register. This agreement includes for the first time the Council of the European Union and will mean the inclusion of the permanent representations that hold the rotating presidency, the conditionality of any type of meeting with the registration, as well as an extension of the controls of the information declared by registered companies or organisations. The idea of ​​the three institutions is that this agreement is the first step to continue gradually improving the transparency register and accountability.

During the Q&A session, attendees were able to express their doubts and comments on numerous issues of interest. Thus, issues such as the principle of transparency in national recovery plans, digitisation of electoral processes, national regulation of lobbies transparency or the exercise of rights in the digital sphere were discussed.

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

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.

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.