Online Breakfast-Debate with Cristina Rueda-Catry, Member of Cabinet of Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Trade

On June 3rd, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg hosted a new session of its Breakfast Debates, a platform for meetings between Spanish companies and European Institutions. The event was addressed by Cristina Rueda-Catry, Member of Cabinet of Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Trade and covered “Implications of Covid for the European trade policy and the structure of supply chains”. Given the exceptional circumstances of the spread of COVID-19 in Belgium, this breakfast debate was held online and was attended by representatives of member companies of the Chamber, managers of companies, multinationals and Spanish Regional Delegations.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed the speaker and thanked all the attendees for their participation. He began with a presentation of the speaker and gave a quick introduction to the current situation we are facing, which is undoubtedly affecting the priorities and activity of the Commission.

Then, on behalf of our member company and sponsor of the event Van Bael & Bellis, a law firm specialized in EU Commercial Law, its partner Pablo Muñiz took the floor and thanked the speaker and all attendees for their participation in this event.

Cristina Rueda began by explaining how this pandemic has overtaken all sectors of society and that it will reach both public health and the economy, given this the European Commission is paying attention to the economic recovery of its members and companies.

During her speech, Rueda explained how this crisis has impacted the world trade with a drastic drop in both exports and imports in Europe. The speaker highlighted that world trade was one of the main growth booster of the European Union and that a proactive trade policy will be necessary for its recovery. European trade policy has seen many changes during this crisis, so a new revision of it will be necessary, giving the EU the leadership to guarantee greater resilience and sustainability. This will be achieved, among many other points, by supporting SMEs, diversifying supply chains, protecting companies and workers or keeping the markets open, when companies integrate the needs of the workers and society. She also informed that it will be crucial for this recovery to guarantee the diversity of the offer and to reinforce the anti-dumping duties that protect many jobs and companies from unfair practices. In another area, she reminded that the relaxation of the State aid regulations is merely temporary and that this practice should not be over-extended so that it is not perceived negatively by our present and future trade partners.

On the other hand, the speaker reported on the agenda of bilateral negotiations with Latin America, in which she explained some of the agreements that are currently under negotiation  with Mexico or Chile as well as the single bilateral agreement with MERCOSUR that will allow great savings in rates and which is unique since the block does not have other similar agreements.

Finally, Rueda informed that, in these months of great activity that lie ahead, it will be essential that all interested companies participate in the forthcoming consultations and debates of the European Commission, not only to face the challenges of Covid but in all sectors that already had problems previously that also have been affected by this crisis.

During the Q&A session, participants were able to raise many questions of interest to them. Thus, various topics were discussed such as the impact of this crisis on the negotiation and implementation of free trade agreements, the agreements with China and India or the sustainable development measures that will be carried out during the economic recovery.

The Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg would like to thank Cristina Rueda-Catry, all the participants in this session and our member Van Bael & Bellis for sponsoring this event.

 

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Breakfast-Debate with Isabel de la Mata, Principal Advisor for Health and Crisis Management, European Commission

On May 27th, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg hosted a new session of its Breakfast Debates, a platform for meetings between Spanish companies and European Institutions. The event was addressed by Isabel de la Mata, Principal Advisor for Health and Crisis Management of the European Commission and covered “The role of the Commission and DG SANTE in relation to the COVID: present and future”. Given the exceptional circumstances of the spread of COVID-19 in Belgium, this breakfast debate was held online and was attended by representatives of member companies of the Chamber, managers of companies, multinationals and Spanish Regional Delegations.

 

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed the speaker and thanked all the attendees for their participation. He began with a presentation of the principal advisor and gave a quick introduction to the current situation we are facing, which is undoubtedly affecting the priorities and activity of the Commission.

 

 

 

Isabel de la Mata began by explaining the integrated response provided by the European Commission to the covid-19 crisis, from monitoring the evolution of the pandemic with the help of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), to the management and measures adopted to cover the most immediate needs in the supply of medicines and medical equipment.

 

During her presentation, the speaker highlighted the joint action of Member States in tackling the health crisis and in making joint purchases of the products that are in most shortage in the Union, namely health protection equipment. She then underlined the outstanding work of the European team of experts that advises the European Commission and that has been elaborating reports and recommendations of great importance in subjects such as the prevention tests, community measures, de-escalation phases, etc. during the development of this crisis. It also highlighted the good crisis coordination by the European Institutions, through the general crisis coordination system, in close collaboration with the Health Security Committee, the Council’s IPCR and the competent authorities of the Member States. Furthermore, she also reported on the different financial instruments on which the European Institutions, and in particular the Commission, have relied and noted the great flexibilization on the use of all the financial instruments to achieve an effective and immediate health response appropriate to the needs arising from this crisis.

During the Q&A session, participants were able to raise many questions of interest to them. Thus, various topics were discussed such as the impact of this crisis on the European pharmaceutical strategy within the new Community health program or the lines of action, external and internal, in which the EU is working on an effective vaccine in the close future.

The Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg would like to thank Isabel de la Mata and all the participants in this session for their participation.

06/25: Virtual Breakfast-Debate with Lucía Caudet Balzer, Deputy head of cabinet of Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market.

On Thursday, June 25th at 9:15am, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organizes a new session of its Breakfast-Debate, a meeting platform between Spanish companies and the European Institutions. This will feature the participation of Lucía Caudet Balzer, Deputy head of cabinet of Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market. During this debate COVID-19 recovery: what future for our digital sector, our industry and our internal market'” will be discussed.

The aim of these breakfasts is to facilitate the dialogue between Spanish companies with representatives of the European Institutions. In these events, participants will have the opportunity to transmit their proposals and concerns to the speaker.

More information about the topic of the event will be given soon.

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

The breakfast will be held in Spanish.

 

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Breakfast-Debate with the MEPs Pablo Arias and Adriana Maldonado

On May 20th, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg hosted an event as part of the “Breakfasts with the European Parliament” cycle, a platform for meetings between Spanish companies and the European Parliament, on the priorities of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) for the new legislature. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Pablo Arias Echeverría, member of the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP), and Adriana Maldonado López, member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) attended to the session. Given the exceptional circumstances due to the spread of COVID-19 in Belgium, this Breakfast-debate was held telematically and featured among the attendants representatives from member companies of the Chamber, managers of multinational companies as well as European and Spanish associations.

The president of the Chamber, Juan Rodríguez-Villa, welcomed the event and thanked the participation of the speakers and all of the attendants. Also, Pablo López Álvarez, Vice President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, introduced the speakers and briefly referred to the current historical circumstances we are experiencing, and explained that this situation has undoubtedly compromised the short-term priorities and activity of the Eurogroup.

The MEP Pablo Arias explained that the situation in which we find ourselves has forced us to take measures that were not foreseen at the beginning of this legislature. During his speech, the MEP highlighted that the key of the recovery and reactivation of the economy will be to value the single market, because consumption will have to be reactivated due to the fall in employment. In this way, the Parliament and the European Commission are already working to see what mechanisms will be used. Then, he focused on the importance that electronic commerce has at the moment, highlighting that their main objective is to offer secure e-commerce and bet on digital leadership without losing competitiveness, being this digital sphere the one that has helped to maintain the EU economy during the pandemic and will be key to its recovery. On the other hand, Arias reviewed the different sectors that have been affected by this crisis, such as tourism. He also highlighted the exceptional reaction by carriers and the food sector. To finish, the MEP declared that the competitiveness of the European Union must be protected and that today the vaccine against COVID-19 is a priority for Europe.

Next, MEP Adriana Maldonado, who noted the quick reaction of the European Union and its coordination in managing this crisis while analyzing it, because there was no similar precedent. From her side, the MEP highlighted the good value chain of the EU’s primary sector as it has been shown that, despite consumer’s uncertainty, they have offered full supply. At the same time, she analyzed the weaknesses of the European Union, such as the lack of stock of pharmaceuticals or basic products, which will serve to establish a minimum stock for the future. On the other hand, Maldonado reported on the great impact that state aids have on the internal market and that it will be necessary to seek equality within this market so all countries can benefit from it. In conclusion, she explained that a recovery plan is needed to improve the weaknesses of the EU, emphasizing in the digitization of both companies and public administrations to show security to all consumers and be more competitive. The MEP also highlighted that the legislative work of the European Parliament, as the representative of the Europeans, has not stopped at any time and that adaptation to the telematic context has been fast.

During the time for questions, the participants were able to inquire the speakers on many issues of their interest. Thereby, they covered topics such as the importance of social action policies within the European Union or how this commission will bet on innovation and digitization due to this situation for the new legislature.

The Spanish Official Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg would like to thank the MEPs, Spanish companies and representatives of the European Parliament who participated in this Breakfast.

Breakfast-debate with MEPs Isabel Benjumea and Jonas Fernandez: Priorities of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) in the context of the Coronavirus

On May 6th, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg hosted an event as part of the “Breakfasts with the European Parliament” cycle, a platform for meetings between Spanish companies and the European Parliament, on the “Priorities of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) in the context of the Coronavirus: A new recovery and reconstruction package for Europe?”. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Isabel Benjumea, Vice-Chair of the Working Group on Budgetary and Structural Policies and member of the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP), and Jonás Fernández, member of the ECON and also a member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament attended to the session. Given the exceptional circumstances of the expansion of COVID-19 in Belgium, this Breakfast-debate was held telematically and there were also representatives of member companies of the Spanish Chamber, managers of companies, multinational and, European and Spanish associations.

 

 

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, introduced the speakers, thanked them for their participation and also acknowledged that of all other attendees. Before moving on to the speeches, the Vice President briefly referred to the current historical circumstances we are experiencing, and explained that this situation has undoubtedly compromised the short-term priorities and activity of the Eurogroup.

 

 

MEP Isabel Benjumea made a deep historical and geopolitical reflection on the current moment, which seems to announce a new crisis in economic and social terms. She remarked that this health crisis has highlighted the different social tensions that already existed and which generate a confrontation between northern and southern Europe. Isabel Benjumea also pointed out that the European Parliament was right to provide a solid response by providing immediate funding to meet the initial needs arising from this health crisis. In these circumstances, MP Benjumea added, the Parliament will discuss with the Commission and the Council the form and volume of the Community budget and the recovery fund for Europe. In addition, the parliamentary groups are facing the challenge of reflecting on and rethinking the European Union’s priorities in this new environment and accordingly proposing a budget.

 

Next, MEP Jonas Fernandez reflected on the lack of coordination between member countries at the beginning of the decision-making process. Herein, he noted that the Eurogroup succeeded in giving a series of common economic measures, and observed that each member state individually assumed the costs. Additionally, MP Fernández claimed that thanks to the second response of the European Central Bank (ECB), it has been possible to provide guarantees and resources to deal with the crisis and to avoid the massive closure of companies during the period of confinement. He emphasized that it is also necessary a broad economic recovery plan, preferably to be undertaken by European funds through Community transfers, to minimize the credit route. In the upcoming weeks, the MEP specified that the Commission must obtain a clear view of the size of the fund and the extent to which this debt could be backed by the markets, favoring the mechanism of grants over loans. Furthermore, it will continue to discuss the conditionality of the measures and the possibility of debt mutualization.

 

During the time for questions, the participants were able to inquire the speakers on many issues of their interest. Thereby, they covered topics such as the perception that different parliamentary groups have on political consensus, the expected characteristics of the recovery fund (volume, sectoral distribution and modalities) and other issues related to the possible inclusion or exclusion of the recovery fund within the multiannual budget of the European Parliament.

The Spanish Official Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg would like to thank the MEPs, Spanish companies and representatives of the European Parliament who participated in this Breakfast.

Breakfast-debate with MEPs Jordi Cañas and Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero: priorities of INTA committee

On April 8th, The Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg hosted the first event in the series “Breakfasts with the Eurocámara”, a meeting platform between Spanish companies and the European Parliament, on “The priorities of the International Trade Committee (INTA) for the new legislature” with the MEPs and members of the International Trade Committee (INTA) Jordi Cañas Pérez (Renew Europe) and Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero (S&D). Given the exceptional circumstances due to the spread of COVID-19 in Belgium, this breakfast debate was held online for the first time and was attended by representatives of member companies of the Chamber, business leaders, representatives of the Autonomous Communities and other organizations.

 

 

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice President of the Chamber and host of the event, began by making a presentation of the speakers, thanking them for their participation as well as to all the attendants. Before moving on to the speeches, he gave a brief introduction on the current historical situation we are experiencing and which, without doubt, has radically changed the EU’s trade agenda.

 

 

MEP Jordi Cañas began by making a deep historical and geopolitical reflection on the current context, which seems to announce a fall in commercial and economic terms unprecedented since the Second World War on the continent. This health crisis has highlighted the different social tensions that already existed and which generate rejection of international trade in certain social circles throughout the European Union. In addition, the INTA committee faces two major challenges. On the one side, the need to give a definitive resolution to Brexit and on the other hand, the need for negotiated solutions to transatlantic trade tensions. Under these circumstances, however, both the European project and the role of the EU as a global actor are more at stake than ever, and it is therefore worth reflecting on where we want to move forward as a union.

 

MEP Immaculada Rodríguez-Piñero first thanked the enormous effort that many Spanish companies are making to redirect their production towards the manufacture of vital medical products in these circumstances, providing gowns, masks, disinfectant gels and respirators. This current crisis undoubtedly highlights the need to reorganize the governance of globalization with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international organizations to make it functional again and to serve as a means for negotiating resolutions of trade disputes. A strong reaction by the European Union to the imminent economic recession is also required, one that is truly solidary, without conditions, and one that revitalizes the European industrial network to avoid excessive dependence on certain products. As far as the priorities of the INTA Committee are concerned, some topics are frozen like the final resolution of Brexit, where greater transparency on the British side is missing, or the negotiations with the US for the negotiated solution of numerous problems that significantly affect the Spanish countryside and the investments of Spanish companies in Cuba as a result of the Airbus ruling.

During the Q&A session, the participants were able to ask the speakers on numerous issues of interest. Thus, various topics were discussed, such as the process of ratification of the trade agreement with MERCOSUR, which could represent an important precedent in the relations between the EU and Latin America, the complex situation faced by the naval sector, the European standards in sanitary products or the necessary visibility of the social economy also in trade agreements.

 

Luncheon-Debate with Rosa Aldea Busquets, Deputy Director of Directorate-General for Budget of the European Commission

On January 29, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a luncheon-debate with Rosa Aldea Busquets, Deputy Director-General for Budget of the European Commission. The event was attended by executives of Spanish companies, members of the Chamber and representatives of European organizations and regional delegations.

The Vice President of the Chamber, Pablo López Álvarez, opened the event by pointing out how important it is to organize a debate around the EU budget at this time, as a new round of negotiations will soon begin in order to approve the budget for the 2021-2027 period. The Vice President introduced the Deputy Director General highlighting her extensive curriculum and professional career within the EU.

Aldea dedicated her speech to inform of the budgetary developments proposed by the Commission and explained the main lines that will be discussed during the next negotiations, which will take place in February. Firstly, it is necessary to determine how much should be spent within the next 7 years, since, unlike a national budget, the budget of the European Commission is long-term, for it is dedicated to investment. Secondly, the priority areas must be decided, since the Commission is considering reducing resources dedicated to cohesion and agriculture policies in favor of new priorities, which are innovation, research, digital economy, youth, emigration and security. Thirdly, they deliberate how to finance these budgets: although the Commission’s will is to rely more on its own resources, it is not easy to find means of collection that do not fall on European taxpayers, as is the case with customs fees; even so, the latest Commission proposal is to tax the use of plastics and CO2 emissions. Lately, the principle of excellence as a requirement when granting subsidies is being questioned, as it is a barrier that has so far excluded less developed European countries from receiving aid for innovation. Finally, the last proposal that the Commission approved on January 15 will also be deliberated: the Just Transition Fund, an instrument that would help to economically and socially restructure countries based on the coal and fossil materials industry, with the ultimate aim of reaching, in 2050, a Europe free of these resources.

These are all key points whose disagreement -since unanimity is required-, together with the instability derived from Brexit, have caused a delay in budget execution. Aldea concluded her speech by emphasizing the problem that is that countries think at a national and non-European level; nevertheless, she transmitted the faith of David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, that the EU budget will finally be approved in the negotiations next month.

After the presentation, a round of questions began, where the participants could raise their opinions and questions about all these new budgetary proposals of the European Commission.

From the Chamber we would like to express our gratitude to Bodegas San Antonio Abad, whose wines could be tasted by all attendees, and the participants for this successful luncheon-debate.

 

Luncheon-Debate with Rosario Silva de Lapuerta, Vice President of the Court of Justice of the European Union

On November 27th, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized in Luxembourg a luncheon-debate with Rosario Silva de Lapuerta, Vice-President of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), under the title of The Court of Justice of the European Union, as the guarantor of the respect of the EU right”. The event included the participation of different Spanish company executives and various representatives of public bodies, both Spanish and European. It was the President of the Chamber, Juan Rodríguez Villa-Matons, who welcome all the attendants, and the Vice-president of the Chamber in Luxembourg, José Luis Rodríguez Álvarez who introduced the event reviewing the relevant professional career of Rosario Silva de Lapuerta.

The Vice-president of the CJEU started with a brief presentation of the institution, describing its history, since its creation in 1952 as the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) with the Treaty of Paris until 2009 which was renamed Court of Justice of the European Union with the Treaty of Lisbon. Since then, this institution consists of two courts, the Court of Justice and the General Court with the specialized courts which operates in the first instance in specific cases.

After it, Rosario Silva de Lapuerta described the main competences of the court. Among others, she highlighted that the CJEU is a decentralized system with intergovernmental competence because it is shared by all member states. At the present, the Court of Justice is composed of one Judge from each State, who is proposed by each State and elected by mutual agreement. These Judges have a 6 year term which is renewed every 3 years. The court of Justice can act in 3 ways: in Plenary, in which all the judges from every member State participate, for the most important cases, such as Brexit; in Grand Chamber, in which the president and vice-president take part with 15 judges, and in Chamber of 3 or 5 judges in which the Court sets the competences of each chamber for specific cases.

Silva de Lapuerta explained the principal functions of CJEU: guarantee the respect of the law by the institutions, encourage the active participation from all member States in the treaties and rights of the CJEU and achieve the unity in the interpretation and application of all the Treaties.

The intervention of Rosario Silva de Lapuerta ended by reminding that the 28 member States must accomplish the functions assigned in order to guarantee the right of the European Union that the institutions and themselves composed. After her speech, there were a round of questions where participants could present their doubts about the court.

Eduardo Ozaita, President of the Board of Directors of Bankinter Luxembourg, closed the event by thanking the participation of Rosario Silva de Lapuerta in this luncheon debate and reviewing Bankinter’s position, highlighting that is the only Spanish bank with a branch office in Luxembourg.

The Chamber thanks Bankinter Luxembourg for its collaboration in the organization of the event.

Event sponsored by:

 

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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.

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20/06 Breakfast-Debate with Román Arjona Gracia, Chief Economist, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission

Last 20 June the Chamber organized a breakfast-debate with Román Arjona, Chief Economist of the DG Research & Innovation at the European Commission, who presented “Horizon Europe and its scheme support for R&D and innovation”. To the event attended different representatives from companies and institutions.

Román highlighted that the new framework programme that will cover the period 2021-2027, it’s, with 100 billion euros, the biggest budget assigned to a R&I programme, not only at European level but also on a global level. The vision of the Commission is to encourage member state to continue reinforcing he budget assigned to R&D, to become an engine for growth and competitiveness.

Different novelties were also presented such as the creation of the European Innovation Council or the introduction of new financial instruments such as equity. All these modifications have been introduced with the final am to translate the European scientific excellence in innovation and entrepreneurship results.

During the presentation was also noted the importance that companies, and institution participate in the different info days organized by the European Commission, such as the  European Research and Innovation days, as well get feedback from the national contact points to get guidance on how to benefit from Horizon Europe.