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.

 

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.

Luncheon-debate with Kerstin Jorna, Director General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs DG Growth

Yesterday, Thursday 28th April, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg held in Brussels a new luncheon-debate with Kerstin Jorna, Director General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European Commission. The theme of the event revolved around the Fit for Future strategy of the EU, which aims to establish a roadmap for the creation of an industrially competitive Europe.

The event was attended by more than 70 participants, including Chamber members, business executives, delegates from the Autonomous Communities and representatives of Spanish and European organisations.


The event was inaugurated by Pablo López Álvarez, President of the Chamber, who thanked all those present for their attendance. He dedicated a few words of special recognition to the extensive career of the speaker, Jorna, and her long trajectory dedicated to the European project. López-Álvarez also highlighted the current complex geopolitical situation due to the war in Ukraine and the still lingering consequences of the pandemic and its effects on the industrial fabric of the Eurozone.

The President of the Chamber also introduced Toon Digneffe, board member of EUCOPE – European Confederation of Pharmaceutical Entrepreneurs, and sponsor of the event. Digneffe briefly introduced his organisation, Europe’s leading trade body for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises working in the field of biopharmaceuticals and medical technologies. He also stressed the importance of continuing to build the European value chain through collaboration between the business community.

Jorna dedicated her speech to a brief review of the consequences of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and its implications for the internal market of the European Union. She stressed that the current context has served to identify the importance of a stable supply chain for Europe, which, according to her, must be based on collaborative ecosystems that take advantage of the EU’s own resources.


The speaker took the opportunity to affirm that European industrial policy is more necessary than ever, and that it must play a key role in the transformations that the European economic model must undergo in the coming decades. Jorna pointed out the importance of creating an excellent environment for attracting private capital, which will ultimately be the fundamental pillar for making possible the development of a new sustainable industrial and economic model for the future.

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.

From the Chamber we would like to show a special thanks to Bodegas Madrid Romero, whose wines “Vino Tinto Madrid Romero” and “3 Calas Sauvignon Blanc” could be tasted by all the attendees, as well as the participants, making this event a very successful luncheon-debate.

Luncheon-debate with Olivier Guersent, Director General for Competition of the European Commission

Yesterday, Monday 14th March, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg held in Brussels a luncheon-debate with Olivier Guersent, Director General for Competition of the European Commission, sponsored by Telefónica. The theme of the event revolved around the global competitiveness of European industries and the relationship between industrial policy and the European Union’s competition policy. The event brought together more than 70 participants, including members of the Chamber, company managers, delegates from Autonomous Communities and representatives of Spanish and European organisations.


The conference was opened by Pablo López-Álvarez, President of the Chamber, who took the opportunity to thank all those present for their attendance, and then dedicated a few words of special recognition to the extensive career of the speaker Guersent and his long career in various positions of responsibility in European institutions. López-Álvarez also took the opportunity to highlight the complexity of the current geopolitical context derived from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its direct implications on the global market.

The President of the Chamber also introduced Pablo de Carvajal, Secretary General and Regulatory Affairs of Telefónica, sponsor of the event. De Carvajal highlighted that the continuous transformation of the industry and economy in diverse issues such as digitalisation make a joint industrial policy that promotes European sovereignty in strategic sectors such as telecommunications indispensable. After her speech, he gave the floor to Olivier Guersent.

Guersent dedicated his speech to explaining the specific areas of action of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition, highlighting the relationship between competition policy and industrial policy in the promotion of global competition in European industries. Guersent also stressed the importance of creating a European economic and industrial system that is more resilient to global instability.


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.

From the Chamber we would like to show special thanks to Bodegas Barbadillo, whose wines could be tasted by all the attendees, as well as the participants, making this event a very successful luncheon-debate.

Luncheon-debate with Gerassimos Thomas, Director General for Taxation and Customs Union – DG TAXUD

Last Tuesday 22nd February, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a new luncheon-debate with the participation of Gerassimos Thomas, Director General for Taxation and Customs Union – DG TAXUD at the European Commission. The theme of the event revolved around the role of the energy tax, the CBAM and the implications for customs authorities reflected in the new European Green Deal and was sponsored by the firm Van Bael & Bellis.

The conference was opened by Pablo López-Álvarez, President of the Chamber, who took the opportunity to thank all those present for their attendance, and then dedicated a few words of special recognition to the extensive career of the speaker Gerassimos Thomas and his long trajectory in European institutions. López-Álvarez also highlighted the complex situation Europe is facing in relation to energy and the importance of a regulatory framework adapted to the current context.

The President of the Chamber also introduced Pablo Muñiz, partner at Van Bael & Bellis and sponsor of the event. Muñiz briefly introduced his company, a leading international law firm in European commercial law and international law, and highlighted the intense work that European regulators are currently facing in imposing different taxonomic tools in many different areas of activities, and then handed over the floor to Gerassimos Thomas.

Thomas, dedicated his speech to explaining the different tax and regulatory tools currently available to the EU to meet the objectives set out in the European Green Deal, in relation to the reduction of greenhouse gases and the stimulation of environmentally friendly energy.

In this context, Thomas stressed that the package of measures promoted by the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, brought together the various political and administrative tools to address the challenges posed by the current climate situation.

Thomas also took the opportunity to stress the continued concern of the European authorities about the sustained increase in energy prices. He also pointed out that the best way to avoid future instabilities is to follow the path set out by the EU Green Deal and continue to focus on the transition to a supply system that comes from renewable sources and closer geographical location.

Focusing on how European industries must transform themselves to adapt to the challenges posed by packages such as the Fit for 55, Thomas clarified that the answer cannot come from the regulatory framework alone, stressing that taxation tools can and should play a key role in providing concrete incentives for companies to move forward and adapt to the current situation.

With regard to the CBAM (Border Carbon Adjustment Mechanism), Thomas advanced that it will be a key tool for making external EU producers assume greater climate ambition when it comes to decarbonising their production processes in a similar way to that which European companies will be obliged to do. This will reduce the competitive advantage of companies located outside the European area and will encourage third countries to take concrete measures in the fight against global warming, thus promoting sustainable production.

Thomas dedicated the last few minutes of his speech to stressing the importance of compliance by European importers with all regulatory measures regarding products entering the common market. He also highlighted the constant coordination of the European authorities with the economic and productive sectors most affected by the energy transition and the importance of advancing in this transition in a coordinated manner, without forced impositions and an agreed timetable, thus promoting a stable commitment to the future.

After the presentation, a round of questions began, where the participants were able to express their opinions and ask different questions about what had been presented. Among the issues that aroused most interest were the doubts about the possibilities of not passing on the increase in energy prices to end consumers, as well as the importance of raising awareness among citizens to consume products that, although more expensive, are identified with the values that Europe wants to promote in relation to an environmentally neutral society.

From the Chamber we would like to show a special thanks to Atavus Priorat, whose wines IURA 2011 and Buen Karma 2019 could be tasted by all the attendees, as well as to the participants, for making this event a very successful lunch-debate.

Online breakfast debate with Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Head of Energy Policy at DG ENER

Last Thursday 10 February 2022, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a new virtual breakfast-debate within the cycle “Business Circle”, a meeting platform between Spanish companies and representatives in the European institutions. Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Director of Energy Policy at DG ENER of the European Commission, participated in the debate.

The breakfast, sponsored by Iberdrola, focused on “The challenges of Fit for 55 in today’s energy environment”.
The President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, Pablo López Álvarez, welcomed and briefly introduced the speaker, summarising her professional career. He also thanked all the attendees for their presence.
This was followed by Eva Chamizo, Director of European Affairs and Iberdrola’s Brussels office. In her speech, she mentioned the priorities and concerns of her company.
Cristina Lobillo began her speech by summarising the current situation in the energy sector and the temporary pressure on energy prices. She also gave an introduction to the awareness and investment process that the European Commission is currently considering.
The energy transition and cooperation between countries were the main themes of his speech throughout his intervention. After the introduction, Lobillo pointed out the current need to defend a diversification strategy, on the basis of which work has been carried out with the USA, given the decrease in the percentage of gas storage in the European Union. In this respect, Lobillo assured that the current measures against this crisis are only transitory, as the Commission has not abandoned, in any case, the priorities and actions to comply with the proposed energy transition.
Finally, Cristina Lobillo spoke about taxonomy, the guide for moving from coal to gas and from there to renewable energies. At this point, she emphasised the three activities that the Commission has identified and which should be the subject of investment.
During the question and answer session, the attendees were able to express their doubts and comments on numerous current issues. The speaker spoke about the efforts and security of supply of EU member states, the existing financing mechanisms for green hydrogen and blue hydrogen, and the countries that are most committed to renewable energies.
The Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg would like to thank Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Iberdrola and all the participants for their participation.

10/02 Online Breakfast-Debate with Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Director of Energy Policy at DG ENER

Next Thursday, February 10th 2022 from 9:00 to 10:30, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organises a new session of its Breakfast-Debate in the framework of its Business Circle platform. The breakfast will take place online and will feature the participation of Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Director of Energy Policy at DG ENER.

The topic of the breakfast is going to be “The challenges of Fit for 55 in today’s energy environment”.

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

The breakfast will be held in Spanish.

Event sponsored by:

Logo Iberdrola. Link to Iberdrola website

Luncheon-debate with Marcos Alonso, Ambassador Permanent Representative of Spain to the European Union

On Tuesday 8 February, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a luncheon-debate in Brussels with Marcos Alonso, Ambassador Permanent Representative of Spain to the European Union, sponsored by Indra. The theme of the event revolved around the European debate and its evolution until the Spanish presidency in 2023. The event brought together more than 70 participants, including members of the Chamber, business executives, delegates of Autonomous Communities and representatives of Spanish and European organisations.

The day was opened by Pablo López-Álvarez, President of the Chamber, who began his speech by expressing his enthusiasm to be able to resume the traditional luncheon-debates of our organisation and thanking all the attendees for their presence at the event. He then presented the extensive career of our guest speaker, Marcos Alonso, highlighting the excellent relations between the Chamber and the Permanent Representation of Spain to the EU.


López-Álvarez also introduced David Luengo, Managing Director of Indra in Brussels, and sponsor of the event. Luengo presented his company, an international benchmark in consultancy and technology, and highlighted the current and future importance of technology in European policies, as well as the opportunity that the recovery funds represent for the transformation of Europe. He also emphasised Indra’s determination to lead European projects that provide greater recognition to the company’s products and foster its international expansion, and then gave the floor to Marcos Alonso.

Alonso began by explaining various key aspects of the current state of the debate on the European Union and the great opportunity that opens up for Spain with its presidency in 2023, to continue to lead the EU’s coordinated response to the different challenges that must be faced with its proposals.

Alonso stressed that the pandemic has not changed the priorities set by both the Commission and the Parliament for this policy cycle, but has even served as an impetus for accelerating them and for the commitment to a recovery that places value on the green and digitalised transition.

During his speech, Alonso devoted much of his time to explaining the lines of work that will undoubtedly have to be present when Spain is in charge of presiding over the EU Council. Among them, he highlighted the promotion of the Schengen area as a great achievement of all EU members, and the new framework of relations that must be built with the United Kingdom, given its position as a strategic partner of the Union and particularly for Spain.

In the strictly economic sphere, Alonso highlighted the commitment of the EU-27 to offer a coordinated response to the pandemic through the mutualisation of debt and the distribution of funds aimed at the economic transformation of the continent.

After the presentation, a round of questions was opened, where participants were able to make their opinions known and raise different questions about what had been presented. Among the doubts clarified at the event were various issues such as the position that Spain will take to promote EU relations with Latin America and the difficulties of coordination within the European Institutions.

The Chamber would like to express its special thanks to Bodegas Campoameno, whose Syrah Barrica and Chardonnay wines could be tasted by all the attendees, as well as to the participants, for making this event a very successful luncheon-debate.