Breakfast-debate with Miguel Gil Tertre

On April, 24, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a breakfast-debate in presence of Miguel Gil Tertre, member of the Jyrki Katainen Gabinet, Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness.

miguel git tertreMiguel Gil Tertre presented to the attendants a talk on “The investment initiative of the Juncker Commission”. The Juncker Commission identified inversion as one of the strategic bases to relaunch the economic growth and employment in Europe. The plan seeks to mobilise private investments, generate growth and create more than one million of employments in the next three years.

The Investment Plan for Europe focuses on the elimination of the obstacles for investment, visibility and technical assistance to the investment projects and an intelligent use of the financial resources. To reach these objectives, the plan acts in three different aspects: mobilising 315.000 millions of euros in private investment in three years (equal to the 0,8% of the annual european GDP), supporting the investment of real economy and creating a favorable environment for investment.

More than 20 member companies of the Chamber attended the breakfast-debate to listen to the most important points of the ambitious investment plan drove by BEI, who will provide it with 60.000 million euros to strengthen the investment opportunities.


The Chamber praises the success of the breakfast-debate and would like to thank the collaboration of the attendees.

Luncheon-debate with Arūnas Vinčiūnas

Arūnas Vinčiūnas (8th of June 1967, Rudnia, Lituania), Head of Cabinet to European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis, was the special guest on 23 April at the luncheon-debate organized by the platform ”Business Community” of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg. Among more than 50 attendees, representatives of the Spanish public institutions, directors of international companies and lobbies from the sector were present.

The president of the Chamber, Juan Rodríguez-Villa Matons, was in charge for introducing Arūnas Vinčiūnas, by emphasizing his long professional career as head of European projects that he started a bit after the independence of Lithuania from USSR in 1990 and later he worked for the Lithuanian Embassy in Spain.


Arūnas Vinčiūnas dedicated much time during his statement to talk about all important aspects for the new Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, including controversial subjects like the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s). According to Arūnas Vinčiūnas, Europe has the best food system and the best food safety, although perfection has not been reached yet and it is necessary to keep growing in that field. Therefore, he highlighted the importance of combining food and health, because it is obvious that the consumption of bad quality products is a risk for human health. Arūnas Vinčiūnas is sure that it is necessary to give this message to the other member states in order to make them understand the importance of a good health to prevent chronic diseases. “We need to help the European Ministers to understand that inaction or not enough action means huge economic costs for the medium and long-term. The life expectancy is increasing and this might be a major problem for the finances of the member states”, he affirmed.

2The Head of Cabinet to European Commissioner neither wanted to avoid the most conflictive and first priority issues, like the case of Xylella fastidiosa bacteria that affects most of the Italian olive-trees and nowadays it does not have a solution yet. In his speech, as well as during the question time, Arūnas Vinčiūnas emphasized the will of the Commissioner to find a remedy for the problem as soon as possible and prevent that the bacteria might spread in other countries like France.

At the end of the debate, Juan Rodríguez-Villa, on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, gave a price to Arūnas Vinčiūnas in recognition of his work within the department of Health and Food Safety and to acknowledge his presence at the luncheon-debate.

The Chamber praises the success of the luncheon-debate and would like to thank the collaboration with the sponsor, Atos Worldline.

The president accorded a particular attention to the company Pernod Ricard, sponsor of the wine at the event.

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Luncheon-Debate with Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development

On July 16th the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a luncheon-debate with the Commissioner of Development, Andris Piebalgs, who talked about the new EU approaches to support SME development and the role of intermediary organizations.

0andris_piebalgsThe Vicepresident, Pablo López Álvarez wanted to thank the representatives of the institutions and international professionals and commend the figure of the Commissioner who has focused on boosting the role of the private sector in developing countries.

In his exposition, the Commissioner underlined that the activity of the European Commission has concentrated on transmitting the necessity of implementing policies that push through the growth of the private sector with the aim of faciliting the access to the finance for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises towards the governments of developing countries.

The lack of access to capital and appropriate financial services is a major constraint in particular on the development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. In this sense, the Commissioner has emphasized the implementation of programs that focus on the use of information and communication technologies, specifically in Africa and Central America, and private and institutional support where we can cite the example of the Inter-American Development Bank. Besides, these initiatives come together with the creation of financial structures which are subject to regulations to ensure customer protection and the stability of the financial system.

0pablo_andrisOne of the main barriers of development is reflected in the access to energy where the costs are unmanagable and where it becomes necessary to provide the States with technical experts and financial grants, as well as a transformation of the system, particularly in the rural zones which demand a boost for increasing its capacity to maintain sustainable growth in the agribusiness.

The development strategy has resulted in the identification of improvements such as the creation of jobs with better working conditions, the implementation of the Decent Work Agenda, the employment of women and youth and the communication between the private sector and the governments, which is one of the pillars in the process of the democratization of societies.

Finally, the Commissioner insisted on the necessity of using political dialogue with the partner states to encourage the governments and the local authorities to contact representatives of the private sector.

After a short question and answer period, the Vicepresident took the floor to thank Andris Piebalgs for his exposition and collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce.



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Europe needs more Industry and Industry needs more EuropeCommerce

On 9th of July, the Chamber of Commerce of Spain in Belgium and Luxembourg celebrated in Brussels a luncheon-debate with the General Director of DG of Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission, Daniel Calleja, whose presentation referred to “The Industrialisation of Europe”. The event was sponsored by the partner company REPSOL.

The President of the Chamber, Juan Rodríguez-Villa, wished to thank and emphasize the merits of the rapporteur during his long and successful career, with a great variety of activities which demonstrate his service to society in the presence of representatives of SMEs and international institutions.

During his exposition, Daniel Calleja explained the main lines of action in the industrial policy of UE. In this sense, the strategic agenda of the Commission is determined by five priorities which have been stated by Heads of States and Governments:
· Competitiveness, growth and employment.
· Establishment of an internal market of energy
· Immigration Policy
· Political relationships between United Kingdom and UE.
· Transatlantic treaty with EE.UU.

Each of these topics is related to the General of Enterprise and Industry Directorate, whose objective is to reach a significant industrial growth in the EU.

00daniel-calleja-1“Multiple reforms and measures have been adopted in the last years, but these are not sufficient without a realistic and effective growth strategy and promotion of industrial projects. The European Union has to enhance its attractiveness on the investment and this results in optimising the productive activity of the Eurozone”, the General Director pointed out.

The Commission has established as objective that the industry represents the 20% of GDP of Europe in 2020. Daniel Calleja emphasized that the political goal is possible but it is necessary to focus on the special correlation between industrial activity, innovation, internationalization of companies and employment. A reorientation of the activity of Europe is fundamental.

Last March, the European Council confirmed the strategy of the Commission and invited them to define a roadmap based on four main pillars:

In the first place, a better access to internal and external markets. In Europe one out of four companies operates in the European market and only one out of eight develops its activity outside the European borders. The efforts concentrate on abolishing technical and tariff barriers, the consolidation of Internal Market of Services and the adoption of new trade businesses like the agreement with EE.UU that will convert these powers in the strongest commercial area.

00daniel-calleja-2In the second place, facilitate access to resources for companies: the financing (regional financing and Horizon 2020 Program); access to energy, necessity of the transparency of prices, a common policy with third countries and a more efficient interconnection; access to raw materials (improving the economic and political diplomacy) and, besides, access to training, with the leading of dual models.

Innovation is the third pillar. Through the Horizon 2020 Program, innovation should be promoted and a solution will be provided for the main problems of EU: high levels of social spending. This challenge results in transforming the Welfare State without setting aside our social model.

The last pillar is focused on the creation of an excellent business atmosphere. In this sense reducing bureaucracy, facilities to create companies and business transfers are demanded.

Finally, the General Director wished to transmit a message:  “Europe needs more Industry and the Industry needs Europe”.  The European Union, business associations and the Chambers of Commerce must cooperate in order to favour industrial growth.

After a short question and answer period, the President took the floor to thank Daniel Calleja for his presentation and collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce as well as REPSOL for sponsoring the event.



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Alfonso Dastis: The European Union in 2014 from a Spanish perspective

The Ambassador Permanent Representative of Spain to the EU, Alfonso Dastis, has given a presentation on the topic: “The European Union in 2014 from a Spanish perspective”, during a luncheon-debate organized by the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg and sponsored by the Spanish company Indra. Members of the Spanish and international diplomatic corps, managers of companies, as well as personalities and representatives of European institutions participated in the luncheon-debate.

The event started with a speech from Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce. In the first place, he wanted to thank Mr. Alfonso Dastis for his collaboration and his continual support for the Chamber. The Vice-president predicted that in 2014, a turning point for the community because of the renovation of the European institutions and the beginning of new European programs, Spain will begin a new period of growth and the bases for a definitive end of the economic crisis will be built.

Thereafter, Alfonso Dastis took the floor, focusing in his speech on four axes: On the one hand, from the economic point of view, he presented the importance for Spain to continue its efforts in overcoming the crisis. He emphasized the improvement of the economic situation in Europe and Spain and highlighted the fundamental role of the institutions and in particular of the European Central Bank in it, but he wanted to insist especially on the good management of the crisis of the current government that has, among other things, allowed us to be able to count on a healthy financial system. Furthermore, Spain is facing the next review of the European Central Bank as one of the best prepared countries.

Concerning the second, institutional, axe, he referred to the changes that will take place this year at the institutions after the elections at the European Parliament and the appointment of a new Commission. In this regard, the Permanent Representative of Spain to the European Union has highlighted the importance of ensuring the greatest and the best representation of our country at the European institutions.

The third axe of his lecture dealt with the future of the European Union, where he stressed the fact that Europe needs a common vision shared by everyone that is the result of a sincere and deep commitment of the Member States. This is something that, in his opinion, is difficult to obtain in a Union that currently counts on 28 members and that will continue to grow in a near future. However, it is not impossible.

Finally, he talked about the fundamental role Spain can play in all of these challenges, the importance of our contribution to the Union in every respect and the implication of all of the parties related with the European Union, government, administration and Spanish companies in order to communicate the positive elements of our role in Europe to the citizens.

Once the speech of the Ambassador ended, a lively debate between the assistants was generated. Issues such as the role of renewable energy in Europe, the lack of a common vision between the member states and the uncertainty concerning job creation and sustainability especially in the construction industry, were discussed. Mr. Dastis showed his optimism and his positive view on these issues and his expectations of improvement of all of them. The luncheon-debate ended with the appreciation of the Ambassador of Peru, Mrs. Cristina Ronquillo, who emphasized the role of Spain as leader in South America and the support Spain has always offered on this continent.


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Breakfast-debate with Fernando Nogales, Counselor of Parliamentary Affairs at the REPER

On 11 June 2014 the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a breakfast-debate during which Fernando Nogales Álvarez, Counselor of Parliamentary Affairs at the Permanent Representation of Spain to the European Union gave a presentation called “The European Parliament after the elections of 25 May”.

DSC_0982_WEBThe event started with the presentation of the Vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce, Pablo López Álvarez, who thanked the Counselor for his participation and stressed the strong interest of the partners for the institution in the celebration of this debate.

Afterwards, Fernando Nogales took the floor and thanked the Chamber of Commerce for the invitation and informed the audience on how the European citizens perceived the most recent European elections, which usually remain in the background with regard to the national elections.

However, he argued that the borders between the European and the national mingle increasingly and that the “European” issues have an increasing impact on the national elections, a phenomenon marked by the economic and financial crisis. The dissatisfaction with the European Union also has to do with the fact that the European Union is now not only perceived as a political institution but also an institution where decisions are taken with an impact on the real life of citizens.

Then he commented on the results of the elections and the configuration of the parliament by means of the different groups of which it consists.

DSC_0978_WEBFinally, he gave the audience his personal assessment of the situation and how this will affect Spain. He carried out a political analysis in which he indicated that the populist or protest vote is not a unique phenomenon in Spain, but that it is common everywhere in the European Union. From his point of view, the common feature is the irritation or protest in light of a declining economy. “The reforms are not necessary within the EU as well as in the member states”, he added.

In the end, a debate originated between the assistants in which one had the possibility to comment and discuss the current situation of the European Parliament.



Hon. Mr.Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo: “Investing in Equatorial Guinea: the Pearl of Africa”

On 1 April 2014, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a luncheon-debate at the ‘Circle of Entrepreneurs’ Forum in Brussels with Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea. In addition to the members of the Equatorial Guinean government and other authorities of this country, Antonio Tajani, Vice-president of the European Commission, participated as well as ambassadors and members of the international diplomatic corps and a large group of European entrepreneurs.

0000_JRC0042The event began with the intervention of the President of the Chamber, Juan Rodriguez-Villa, who highlighted the fact that President Obiang is nowadays head of the ACP Group of States, head of the African-South-American Summit and head of the Gulf of Guinea Commission Summit. Juan Rodríguez-Villa Matons indicated that the trade balance between Equatorial Guinea and the European Union is slightly favourable for the African country, Europe being the first commercial partner of Equatorial Guinea in the world.

He also underlined the importance of a favourable atmosphere for the development of the economy and expressed that the coupling economic development – social welfare, will lead to exchanges and improvements in the investments of Europe in Equato000_JRC0022rial Guinea.

Subsequently and under the title ‘Investing in Equatorial Guinea: the Pearl of Africa’, the President of Equatorial Guinea has spoken about the business relationship between Europe and Equatorial Guinea, highlighting that there could be a mutually beneficial cooperation due to the fact that Africa can offer resources and Europe can offer technology.

Luncheon-debate with Kristalina Georgieva

The 20th of March, 2014, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a luncheon-debate in Brussels with the European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva about the topic: “Public Private Partnerships in the area of crisis response – the business case for cooperation”.

The event started with the intervention of the President of the Chamber, Mr. Juan Rodriguez-Villa, who welcomed the guests and thanked them for their support. Mr. Rodríguez-Villa highlighted Mrs Georgieva’s Curriculum Vitae, both education and experience, emphasizing her humanitarian work in countries in conflict. Mr. Juan Rodríguez-Villa ended his intervention by informing about the Chamber’s new project “Programa Jóvenes BeLux”, which focuses on providing support to young Spaniards who are living in Belgium and Luxembourg, in their aim to get a job.

portada-e1395332420313The event continued with the intervention of the Commissioner Georgieva. She made an introduction in which she showed her and her partner’s vision of the world’s situation nowadays. Within this introduction, Mrs. Georgieva highlighted the consequences of natural disasters in recent decades and the conflicts that occurred recently, most of them unexpected. Ukraine, Syria and the Central African Republic were some of the examples used by the Commissioner.
The European Commissioner regretted the slow humanitarian aid delivery in some cases, such as in Syria. She was also concerned about how Europe sometimes only cares about conflicts such as Ukraine but quickly forgets about others as important as the Philippines, Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva emphasized the need of being aware of this in order to have a better response to the crises. We must anticipate them. She also pointed out that they must continue allocating resources to combat natural disasters, and also to invest in preventing the conflicts appeared in recent years.

The Commissioner highlighted the importance of the private sector by financing humanitarian aid in countries like the Philippines, where 25% of the funding came from the private sector.

Kristalina Georgieva concluded her intervention by emphasizing the role of the European Commission in conflicts resolution, meantioning measures such as investing in more resources to prevent natural disasters or by organizing round tables to encourage the discussion of these issues.

Mrs. Georgieva closed her intervention by expressing her pride of representing the portfolio of development cooperation and humanitarian aid. She also stressed that help from Europe in these issues is beneficial worldwide, which helps to improve the image of EU Institutions and its citizens abroad.



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Alfredo Calot: ‘Justice in Times of Crisis’ & Eduardo Ruiz: ‘The Court of Auditors: Contribution to the European Project’

On December 17th 2013, The Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg celebrated a Luncheon-debate in Luxembourg with the Secretary-General of the European court of justice, Mr Alfredo Calot, and the Secretary-General of the European court of auditors, Mr Eduardo Ruiz.

The debate, which topics were respectively about “Justice in times of crisis” and “The Court of Auditors: contribution to the European Project”, had the pleasure to count the presence of Mr Arturo Avello Díez del Corral, Ambassador of Spain in Luxembourg, and also  main directors of businesses settled in Belgium and Luxembourg as well as representatives of European institutions.

The event started with a small welcoming speech given by the president of the Chamber, Mr Juan Rodríguez-Villa. He thanked the Ambassador of Spain in Luxembourg for all his support to the Chamber shown along the past year, the first after the opening of the Luxembourger delegation of the institution. In addition, the president recalled the positive balance of the Chamber in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Once the lunch was over, Mr Sergio De Miguel-Jessel, vice-president of the Chamber, presented the speakers, showing gratitude for their support and collaboration with the institution.

Mr Alfredo Calot talked to the present audience about how the actual economic crisis affects the European court of Justice. First of all, he remarked the increase of work volume for 25% more since 2008 and he also emphasized the great mission of the court of justice in times of crisis, when there is a bigger need to respect the rules from national authorities.

As an example, he commented the well-known sentence dictated by the court referring to the “Mohammed Azziz against Catalunya Caixa” case, related to the abusive clauses of mortgage loans as well as the “Pringle” sentence, concerning the stability mechanisms for the Member Estates of the Eurogroup.

Finally he highlighted that the economic crisis is also affecting the court of justice in a direct way through the freezing of budgets and the reduction of personnel. The austerity may end up being detrimental to the good functioning of the institution; although he concluded saying that in spite of the resources reduction, people keep on working hard to accelerate the open cases.

After his intervention, Mr Eduardo Ruiz presented. He explained the main functions of the court of auditors: to audit the finances and improve the financial management of the EU. In order to achieve that, he pointed out that they have a budget of €120 million.

Mr Ruiz underlined that, to check the good utilization of the public funds, they work in a very exhaustive way to confirm the reliability of the accounting, the contracts and the payments made as well as inspections of the given subventions.

Referring to the financial management upgrade, the Secretary-General indicated that the suggestions they make are about simplifying the processes and focusing on results. He also highlighted the reports published by the court of auditors about the evaluation of the “Marco Polo” programme, the profitability of the investments in efficient energy and the investments in sea port infrastructures.

The event was closed with a small ceremony in which a little gift, regarding their attendance, was given to both speakers and afterwards there was a speech of Mr Arturo Avello Díez del Corral, Ambassador of Spain in Luxembourg, who recalled the relevance of having the Chamber present in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and his deep support for this institution.

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Arturo Avello Diez del Corral in ‘Investment Opportunities in Spain: the real estate sector’

On 7 May The Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized its first event in Luxembourg, a luncheon-debate that had as a rapporteur the Ambassador of Spain in the Grand Duchy, Mr. Arturo Avello Diez del Corral.

The debate, of which the theme was ‘Investment Opportunities in Spain: the real estate sector’, was held at the Hotel Meliá Luxembourg and also included the collaboration of Don Fernando Ramirez de Haro Aguirre, from real estate consultant Aguirre and Newman, who gave an interesting presentation about the different investment opportunities in real estate in Spain.

The event started at twelve o’clock, where the attendees were greeted with a welcome cocktail before moving on to the living room, where Mr. Sergio de Miguel-Jessel, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, introduced the Ambassador.

After that, Mr. Arturo Avello Diez del Corral expressed his gratitude and appreciation for having been invited to the event and for having the opportunity to share with everyone a positive light on the economic opportunities of Spain, even in this time of crisis.

He stressed that Spain is an attractive country for Foreign Direct Investment, a situation that remains and is expected to continue increasing in the future. The reasons for this phenomenon, as he explained, are the existence of a stable government that has not hesitated to adopt reforms to boost economic growth in the medium term.

Above all, he highlighted the Labor reform, as well as the Pensions and Retirement Age reform, Public Administrations, Digital and Energy reform and finally the Access to Credit for SME.

Spain’s competitiveness rests, according to the Ambassador, on several pillars: A workforce between 20 and 40 percent cheaper than in the rest of Europe; the presence of Spanish multinationals all over the world in different sectors and the low indebtedness of the corporate sector.

Mr. Avello stressed that the indicators foresee an economic growth in Spain later this year thanks to an increase in exports, a reduction of the budget deficit and the risk premium, which will lead to a reduction in financial costs. He also hopes that this economic growth will help to see a drop in the unemployment rate.

The Ambassador noted that investment in immovable property in Spain is having a good time after a considerable drop in prices and a reform of the law of costs, which insures homeowners against the expropriations that the previews law provided.

The event ended with a thanks from Sr. Sergio de Miguel-Jessel, followed by the presentation of a commemorative gift of the Chamber Ambassador of Luxembourg.



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