Luncheon-debate with Margaritis Schinas, European Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life

Last 27th September, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg held a new luncheon debate within its tribune “Business Circle”, in which the Vice-President of the European Commission for the Promotion of Our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, spoke about how to manage complexity in an even more complex European Union.

The event was inaugurated by the President of the Chamber, Pablo López-Álvarez, who thanked all those present for their attendance and presented Schinas’ vast career.

Europe has been fighting crises for more than twelve years“, Schinas reminded the different actors gathered at the event. Since the euro crisis, the EU-27 have faced uncertainty, Brexit, terrorism… and throughout that time they have shown “much more strength and resilience” than their critics expected.

The scenario that has followed the arrival of the coronavirus in our lives is the same, Margaritis explained. Inflation, energy, the food crisis, or disruptions in global supply chains reassure us that Europe’s age of innocence is over. Now, the Commission seeks to lead member states “into the era of trust, of setting an example, of becoming a powerful actor” vis-à-vis third parties.

Over the past three years, the EU executive has shown that it can act more quickly and has activated mechanisms that were unimaginable until now: temporary protection for Ukrainian refugees, a European recovery fund, and funding for the purchase and delivery of arms to Ukraine. “As Macron said, it is time to be the Europe that protects and empowers”, Schinas highlighted.

After the presentation, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions and engage in a direct dialogue with the Commission Vice-President. During the Q&A, topics such as the lack of qualified staff or digital skills in today’s labour market, the security of investing in certain sectors threatened by political issues, or the integration of mental health in the Commission’s plans for building a European Health Union, among others, were addressed.

On behalf of the sponsor of the debate, Meglena Mihova, Managing Partner of EPPA, thanked the Chamber for the opportunity to bring together different actors to talk about strategies to maintain and attract more innovation and investments to Europe and, to Margaritis, to see how companies are doing in a moment of very complex geopolitical crisis that threatens the fundamental values of the EU.

From CámaraBeLux, we also want to show a special thanks to Bodegas San Valero, whose wines could be tasted by all the attendees, which made this luncheon-debate a very successful one.

08/11 Luncheon-debate with Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

On Tuesday 8th November, between 12:30 and 14:30, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg is organising a luncheon-debate in Brussels with Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.

The event will be held in the NH Collection Brussels Grand Sablon Hotel (Rue Bodenbroek 2, 1000 Brussels).

More information about the topic will be available soon. The presentation will be in English.

Places are limited. You can register for this event by filling in this form.

In partnership with:

Luncheon-debate with Mairead McGuinness, Commissioner for Financial Services and Stability and Capital Markets Union

On the 19th of July, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg hosted a new luncheon-debate as part of its “Business Circle” platform, in which the Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union, Mairead McGuinness, spoke about the priorities of the European Commission during the second part of her mandate.

First came the pandemic. Then, the war in Ukraine. Two situations that have shaken the whole world beyond the economic level and that McGuinness wanted to underline to remind that, despite adversity, the EU Member States have learned that only together they could move forward.

The world is changing faster than expected. Roadmaps drawn up in response to the coronavirus crisis are now being adapted again in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions imposed. The result? Inflation is increasingly squeezing global economies, especially emerging ones, and central banks and other institutions such as those in the EU are working against the clock to ensure resilience.

During the event, which brought together a good number of company executives, delegates from Spanish regions, representatives of Spanish and European institutions, and representatives of Spanish and international organizations, consultants and partners of the Chamber, the Commissioner has focused precisely on the challenges and opportunities that have become more urgent: energy security, the stability of financial markets, the new taxonomy, the European Green Deal or the digital euro.

Beneath the opportunities for progress, there is also a challenge: to regulate for the future, not for the past. Open banking, open finance, cryptocurrencies, green transition… these are just some of the terms that still need to be understood and whose regulations or guidelines have to balance innovation with stability in the existing financial systems.

McGuinness concluded the event by reminding that, just the system she lived through during the 1980s and 1990s no longer bears similarities with the current one, neither will the one of the future. Therefore, during her office term, it is important that the long-term vision is preserved. 

As part of the debate, the Finance Commissioner answered questions from the attendees, who took the opportunity to express their willingness to the implementation of the European green taxonomy, as well as pondered the possible role of traditional banking in the digital euro project.

The Chamber would like to thank the Commissioner for her participation, as well as to show a particular gratitude to Bodegas Carpe Diem, whose wines “Gadea Syrah Tinto” and “Montespejo Blanco” were tasted by all the attendees, which made this luncheon-debate a very successful one.

25/10 Luncheon debate with Didier Reynders, European Commissioner of Justice

Luncheon – debate with José Manuel Campa, Chairperson of the European Banking Authority (EBA)

On 15 June, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium Luxembourg held a new luncheon-debate at the Cercle Münster in Luxembourg, which was attended by José Manuel Campa, Chairman of the European Banking Authority (EBA). The event was entitled “The major challenges for European banking in the current environment”.

The event was attended by a wide range of people, including executives from Spanish banks, consultancy firms and public bodies.

The event was opened by the President of the Chamber, Pablo López-Álvarez, who took the opportunity to thank all those present for their attendance. He then highlighted Campa’s extensive career, highlighting his experience as Secretary of State for the Economy at the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Finance and at Banco Santander as Global Head of Regulatory Affairs at Banco Santander. López-Álvarez also stressed the importance of monetary policies and banking regulations.

Campa took the floor and began his speech with a brief summary of the situation in recent years, since he took over the European Banking Authority in 2019 until today, emphasising the challenges of having to move the EBA headquarters from the UK to Paris at the beginning of his mandate due to the situation created by Brexit, in order to keep it within the EU.

After the introduction, the speaker went on to talk about the origins of his institution, which date back to 2011 as a consequence of the 2008 economic crisis, and proceeded to explain his role, which, in general terms, is to build a greater Europe from the banking sector.

He went on to talk about how the banks handled the pandemic situation, explaining that it turned out better than expected and reported that bankruptcy has decreased over the years.

However, Campa also placed particular emphasis on the current problems in the supply chain, which is not functioning properly and supply is not keeping up with demand. He concluded his speech by addressing the current banking problems related to the war that is generating a series of disruptive changes in the environment.

To conclude his speech, the president of the EBA explained the two major challenges facing the banking environment, which are technological changes (Fintech) and climate change.

The presentation was followed by a question and answer session where participants were able to express their opinions and raise different issues related to the presentation.

La presentación fue seguida de una sesión de preguntas y respuestas en la que los participantes pudieron expresar sus opiniones y plantear diferentes cuestiones relacionadas con la presentación.

 

Luncheon-debate with Florika Fink-Hoojier, Director General for Environment of the European Commission

On 10 June, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium Luxembourg held in Brussels a new luncheon-debate with the presence of Florika Fink-Hoojier, Director General for Environment of the European Commission. The event was entitled “Green transition: opportunities and challenges for European companies in an increasingly polarised world”.

The conference brought together a number of people, including company managers, delegates from the Autonomous Communities, representatives of Spanish and European organisations, consultants from different areas and various partners of the Chamber.

The conference was opened by the President of the Chamber, Pablo López-Álvarez, who took advantage of his speech to thank all those present for their attendance. He then highlighted the extensive career of the speaker Florika Fink-Hoojier, who has developed both in the private sector and in the European institutions, where she has held various positions of responsibility over the years.

López-Álvarez also took the opportunity to highlight how, in recent years, environmental policies have been becoming more important, to the point of becoming cross-cutting and key elements on which to build the EU’s future strategies.

Fink-Hoojier took the floor to begin his speech and to offer a brief review of the policies of her department in relation to the impulse that the institutions have given to the continent’s ecological transition. She pointed out that the packages of measures that have been used in recent months to respond to the Covid crisis are evidence of the commitment of the EU-27 to move towards the transformation of a new economic and social model that guarantees the sustainability of future generations.

The speaker highlighted how the recent crises have been a catalyst, so that, through the new financing mechanisms, more funds are allocated for the development of environmental policies that are now transversal to all the departments and measures promoted from Brussels.

Focusing on the role of industry and business in the continent’s green and digital transformation, which according to Fink-Hoojier must always go hand in hand, she highlighted how companies are increasingly aware of the great opportunity that the path towards climate neutrality and sustainability represents.

The ambitious plans of the Commission and the Member States, committed to a profound transformation in structural matters such as energy autonomy (REPowerEU) and the new European industrial policy, will involve the mobilisation of substantial funds. They are expected to be synonymous with the creation of thousands of jobs and a new green economy with a high degree of added value.

Fink-Hoojier also pointed out that her department, as well as the EU as a whole, sees the conservation of biodiversity as a key priority. Only in this way, we can prevent serious consequences that would have a major impact on our societies, such as future pandemics, as well as ensure key issues such as food security.

After the presentation, there was a round of questions where the participants could give their opinion and ask different questions about what was exposed, as well as creating an excellent environment for dialogue and debate.

From the Chamber we would like to show a special thanks to Bodegas “Encina Blanca de Albuquerque” whose wines “Blanco 12 Cepas” and “Tinto 9 Cepas” could be tasted by all the attendees, as well as to the participants, who made this event a very successful luncheon-debate.

 

15/11 Luncheon-debate with Jean-Claude Juncker, former President of the European Commission

Next Wednesday 15 November, between 12:30 and 14:30, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg is organising a new luncheon-debate in the framework of its platform #CírculodeNegocios. The event will be attended by Jean-Claude Juncker, former Prime Minister of Luxembourg and former President of the European Commission.

The event will be held at Cercle Münster (5-7 Rue Münster, 2160 Luxembourg).

The presentation will be in English. The topic will be announced soon.

Places are limited. You can register for this event at the following link.

Event sponsored by:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luncheon debate with Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, European Commission

On Tuesday 10 May, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg held in Brussels a new luncheon-debate with the presence of Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency of the European Commission. The event was entitled “Defending European values, transparency and the rule of law in a challenging geopolitical context: impact for business”.

The luncheon-debate was attended by a variety of people, including company managers, delegates from the Autonomous Communities, representatives of Spanish and European organisations, consultants from different areas and various partners of the Chamber.

The conference was opened by the President of the Chamber, Pablo López-Álvarez, who took the opportunity to thank all those present for their attendance. He then highlighted the extensive career of the speaker Věra Jourová in the European institutions, in which she has held various positions of responsibility over the years, as well as having been named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential personalities in the world in 2019.

On the subject of the debate, López-Álvarez also took the opportunity to highlight the relevance of the current socio-political context and the consequences of the invasion in Ukraine in order to emphasise the importance of European values and spirit in the adoption of common measures.

Jourová took the floor to begin her speech and gave a brief review of her department’s policies in relation to the promotion of European values and transparency. She pointed out that EC policy is currently being directly influenced by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which she took a very critical approach to, showing that it directly undermines the values that make up the European Union.

The speaker pointed out how the recent crises have reinforced the spirit that was at the origin of the EU and how member states have shown themselves to be up to the task by demonstrating a common policy of sending humanitarian support and armaments to defend the national sovereignty of a state that has seen it undermined in the middle of the European continent.

Jourová therefore stressed that the EU is no longer limited to an area where different countries are part of a single market, but described it as a union of countries that share a number of common freedoms and democratic values that must be cherished and not taken for granted in the future.

For Jourová, the EU has achieved great milestones over the years, and for her it is everyone’s responsibility to defend them and demand that all countries, while retaining their autonomy from EU bodies, apply policies that guarantee the key pillars of democracy, such as the strictest freedom of expression and judicial independence.

Jourová outlined the creation of an annual dossier that provides a comprehensive overview of the rule of law in the different members of the Union, highlighting areas for improvement in order to make further progress and perfect our democratic systems.

The Vice-President also declared that the Commission considers various issues to be key to the development of the European project, including respect for the rule of law by all members of the Union, the creation of a regulation adapted to the new digital contexts that allows the sovereignty of all members to be discussed in key issues such as electoral processes, and the continent’s leadership in terms of ecological transition.
After the presentation, there was a round of questions where participants could make their opinions known and raise different issues about what was presented, as well as creating an unbeatable environment for dialogue and debate.

From the Chamber we would like to express our special thanks to Bodega Atavus Priorat, whose wines could be tasted by all the attendees, as well as to the participants, who made this event a very successful luncheon-debate.

Luncheon-debate with Charlina Vitcheva, Director General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission

Yesterday, Wednesday 4th May, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg held in Brussels a new luncheon debate with the presence of Charlina Vitcheva, Director General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission (DG MARE). The theme of the event revolved around the Commission’s policies in relation to its directorate and the future of fisheries.

The event was attended by a variety of people, including business executives, delegates from the Autonomous Communities, representatives of Spanish and European organisations and various partners of the Chamber.

The conference was opened by the President of the Chamber, Pablo López-Álvarez, who took the opportunity to thank all those present for their attendance. He then dedicated some words of special recognition to the extensive career of the speaker Vitcheva both in the European institutions, in which she has held various positions of responsibility over the years, as well as her contribution to the Bulgarian national politics always from the support to the European construction. López-Álvarez also took the opportunity to highlight the vital importance that the policies related to the maritime industry have had in Spanish companies over the years and the relevant contributions of former Commissioners and Directors General.

The President of the Chamber also introduced Salvador Ramón Mateo, President of FRIME, the company that sponsored the event. FRIME – “The Sustainable Tuna Company” is a company with a family tradition, leader in the commercialisation of sustainable tuna with more than 40 years of history. Salvador Ramón highlighted different achievements of the company during his speech and told us about the future plans of the company and its continued commitment to R & D in the optimization of all its processes, after which he gave the floor to the speaker.

Vitcheva dedicated her speech to explaining the current and future situation of the fishing sector, referring to the different policies and strategies promoted by her department. Vitcheva also took the opportunity to highlight the importance of the existence of companies such as FRIME, which through innovation are ultimately responsible for advancing in the construction of a more sustainable industry that ensures fishing in the future.

In this context, Vitcheva detailed the proposals made by the Commission in the area of maritime affairs and fisheries, the different aid packages that have been designed to support the most vulnerable sectors of the industry in this crisis situation caused by Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine. According to Vitcheva, the rise in fuel prices, which has had a major impact on maritime workers, once again demonstrated the urgent need for the fishing sector to move towards a decarbonised industry that is gaining energy autonomy to ensure its future activity.

Vitcheva was also optimistic about the challenges that her directorate must face and affirmed that DG Mare works from the concrete, being aware of the Union’s resources and opportunities in the global maritime context, especially characterised by its interconnection between nations, in order to design a concrete roadmap that will allow us to continue advancing in key pillars such as respect for the environment and marine ecosystems.

After the presentation, a question-and-answer session was opened, where participants were able to express their opinions and raise different questions about what had been presented, as well as creating an unbeatable environment for dialogue and debate.

The Chamber would like to give special thanks to Bodegas Altos de Torona and Bodegas Regina Viarum, whose wines were tasted by all the attendees, as well as to the participants, who made this event a very successful lunch-debate.