Luncheon-debate with Xavier Prats Monné, Director General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission

On 5 April the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a luncheon-debate in Brussels with Xavier Prats Monné, Director General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission.

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More than 70 persons attended the event, among them representatives of Spanish and European governmental institutions, managers of international companies and lobbyists of the sector.

DSC_0230The President of the Chamber, Juan Rodríguez-Villa, welcomed the attendees and presented the speaker, Xavier Prats Monné, and highlighted his great professional career and the European Institutions.

Hereafter, Xavier Prats Monné started his presentation regarding the prospects of the DG Health and Food Safety and the global Europe 2020 strategy. In his speech he highlighted the importance of Europe ensuring a greater degree of transparency and promoting the exchange of knowledge between the Commission and society.

DSC_0296During Question Time, reference was made to the European economic crisis. Xavier Prats Monné came to a positive conclusion of the current situation of the food industry and pointed out that “We managed to overcome the crisis and we remain an attractive sector for clients”.

Finally, Juan Rodríguez-Villa thanked Xavier Prats, Director General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission, for his participation by handing over a gift in recognition of his effort for a healthier Europe.

The Chamber would like to thank Pernod Ricard for their collaboration, who were sponsors of the wine of the event.

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Luncheon-Debate of ONCE and their Foundation with Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility

The training management and employment boost models hold by ONCE and its Foundation (on top of their social companies ILUNION) supported by the co-managed investment from the European Social Fund (ESF) have managed to boost over 60.000 job opportunities for people with disabilities in Spain during the past 15 years.

These data were presented today by the President of the ONCE and its Foundation, Miguel Carballeda, to the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, during the luncheon-debate organized by the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg for a hundred businessmen and European Community authorities.

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Carballeda explained how the organization works to achieve “a more inclusive, accessible and competitive Europe”. He emphasized the need to keep building “partnerships for disabilities” from which over 80 million citizens within the EU benefit, four of them living in Spain. “We highlight in Brussels the value of disability and of people with disabilities to prevent them from being put at risk” he said.

The President of the ONCE and its Foundation explained how the social organization model works, based on the management of the responsible gaming by ONCE; the boost to the rights, the training, the employment and the accessibility for people with disabilities (among other aspects) and the consolidation of social companies within the Organization that, under the denomination of ILUNION, are an “example that the social and economic profitability can go hand in hand generating a real shared value and commitment with the citizenship.”

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Commissioner Thyssen, who visited ILUNION in Madrid a few months ago, explained how the European Social Fund has become a “catalyst” to invest in inclusion and support those social groups that are disadvantaged. She valued the transnational initiatives that took place in Spain and she emphasized the work of ONCE and its Foundation and its capacity to bring together “relevant actors beyond their own boundaries”.

Thyssen shared the ONCE and its Foundation´s point of view, wishing to “end the charitable approach that exists towards disabilities” and assured that the work of the Organization and its social companies ILUNION are “a source of inspiration and an example to follow by the Community policies for people with disabilities”. “Together we will make a more social and fair place of the European Union” she concluded.

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Strong partnership with Europe

Alberto Durán, Vice-president of the ONCE Foundation, highlighted the “solid” partnership they have with the European and Spanish authorities, as manager of the operational programs of the European Social Funds, particularly acting as intermediate body of the Spanish Operational Programme “Fight Against Discrimination”, which allows to boost “cooperation networks for employment and training with other public and private agents in Spain and Europe”, strengthening ESF´s work.

Durán noted before Thyssen how the partnership´s model “multiplies” the positive effects of the European funds for people with disabilities. In fact, over 230,000 people in Spain benefited the last 15 years of the different training programs, 60,000 of them obtained a job, “half of them being women with disabilities”.

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Furthermore, the management of these funds of ONCE and its Foundation made Disability a relevant topic in the European agenda, within diversity management, inclusion and corporative responsibility, aspects to which he committed the efforts of the Organization “now and in the future”.

“We want to contribute to the fact that Spain will be a reference in this chapter, but above all, we offer our support and experience to all of our European colleagues, to demonstrate that the talent, the spirit of improvement and enthusiasm of the people with disabilities transcend borders and it is an essential contribution for building a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe, ” he said.

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Advertising campaign: “On the right path”

The ONCE and its Foundation took advantage of the event in Brussels to release the traditional advertising campaign of social awareness about people with disabilities in the European capital, which often coincides with Christmas time. On this occasion the topic precisely has the value of the 15 years of partnership with Europe and the jobs which it has allowed to boost, such as “life opportunities to those who will have more difficulties”, in the words of Miguel Carballeda.

In the campaign, the protagonists are people with different kinds of disabilities who have found an employment and show their daily life at work. This way, it can be seen how the laboral integration is but, above all and being the most important thing, how social inclusion is in the working groups, with colleagues, showing that they can contribute more together to the companies and society in general, with the slogan “On the right path”.

The whole day, the delegation of ONCE and its Foundation also celebrated a meeting with Juan de Arístegui, Permanent Representative Ambassador of Spain in the EU, who knew and appreciated all of them, among other meetings of interest with MEPs and representatives from the European Commission.

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Luncheon-Debate with Carlo Thelen, Director General of the Chamber of Commerce of Luxembourg

DSC01785Last Wednesday, 21 October, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a Luncheon-Debate in Luxembourg with Carlo Thelen, Director General of the Chamber of Commerce of Luxembourg. The event was attended by the Ambassador of Spain in Luxembourg, Carlos de Lojendio y Pardo Manuel de Villena, as well as representatives of European Institutions, members of the Chamber and corporate executives, among other participants.

The Luncheon started with the intervention of Juan Rodríguez-Villa Matons, President of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce, who welcomed the participants and Mr. Thelen for his collaboration, highlighting his professional career and the important role of the Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg in the Grand Duchy.

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Carlo Thelen started his exposition introducing the current macroeconomic context, pointing out the oil falling, a historically low tax interest, an unconventional monetary policy and the depreciation of the euro. Then, the speaker focused in his speech on the bilateral economic relations between Spain and Luxembourg, as well as in the different trade promotion activities carried out by Luxembourg in Spain.

Afterwards, the President of the Chamber of Commerce of Luxembourg introduced the most relevant sectors and those with the highest investment potential in the Grand Duchy, such as finance, logistics, technological and communications sectors, and the Eco-technological sector.

Mr. Thelen finished his speech stating the challenges of the Luxembourgian economy. He provided public administration data about the growth and the politics the Government of Luxembourg is expecting to carry out in the upcoming years. Regarding this, he highlighted the strategy of the “Third Industrial Revolution” which is intended to be developed between the Chamber of Commerce of Luxembourg and the Government of Luxembourg.

After a round of questions among the attendees, the Economic and Commercial Counselor of the Embassy of Spain, David Martínez Hornillos, closed the event displaying economic bilateral data between Spain and Luxembourg, and pointing out the ability of the economy of Luxembourg to adapt to structural changes.

See Carlo Thelen’s presentation

 

 

Luncheon-debate with Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade

DSC_0141Last Monday, 12 October, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a luncheon-debate in NH Sablon Hotel (Brussels) with Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade, about “The New EU Trade Policy”. The event was attended by European Institutions’ representatives, lobbyists, members of the Chamber of Commerce and corporate executives, among other participants.

The event started with the intervention of Juan Rodríguez-Villa Matons, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, who welcomed the attendees and presented the speaker to the audience, going over her trajectory and highlighting her relevant professional experience and her achievements within the Commission.

Malmström firstly presented the New EU Trade Policy, pointing out that it is a new approach of approximation to international trade relations that would go further in order to reflect the values of the EU and focus on the elimination of trade barriers and trade tariffs.

During the second part of her intervention, the speaker focused on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). She described it as “necessary and vital” for the relations between the United States and the European Union, as it would be the “ability to foster and promote the values that both sides of the Atlantic share”. She would also like to emphasize that the Agreement would ensure European citizens, their food security, their education and health system and the environmental protection at all times.

DSC_0246Finally, Malmström mentioned the numerous agreements the European Union maintained at the level of trade in order to also highlight those that should be refreshed or developed with key states in Southeast Asia or Latin America.

After the presentation there was question time. The attendees raised numerous doubts to the Commissioner, concerning on the protection, transfer of data and the development of potential and new commercial agreements between India and the EU, and China and the EU, which she responded to in detail.

The event, sponsored by “La Buena Vida”, ended with the delivery of a gift to Cecilia Malmström by the Chamber of Commerce in gratitude of her collaboration with the institution.

 

 

 

Luncheon-debate with Ignacio García Bercero, Director at the DG for Trade of the European Commission

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Last Wednesday, 16 September, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a luncheon-debate with Ignacio García Bercero, Director at the DG for Trade of the European Commission, about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and its implications to Spain.

The event, sponsored by Repsol, was attended by representatives of European Institutions , lobbyists, members of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce and corporate executives, among other participants.

The President of the Chamber of Commerce, Juan Rodríguez-Villa Matons, welcomed the attendees and presented the speaker to the audience, going over his trajectory and highlighting his relevant professional experience.IMG_8636

García Bercero presented the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership pointing out that it is “the most ambitious” agreement within the European Union. It is, in fact, a “winning proposal for the EU and the US” that will establish the rules and principles that will regulate the commercial and investment relations between both sides of the Atlantic.

After two years of conversation, and supported by the majority of the European Parliament, the agreement is still in the “hard negotiation” phase, but will hopefully be concluded before the next presidential elections of the United States.

The TTIP broaches traditional subjects such as custom duties, service trade restrictions or public procurement, but goes further, dealing with delicate and sensitive subjects for both sides, such as investment and energy. Consequently, the final partnership has to be “balanced, competitive and ambitious above all”.

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In the second part of his intervention, the speaker focused on the benefits that the agreement would bring to the Kingdom of Spain, explaining that big companies but also SMEs would profit from it.

Following the presentation, attendees had the opportunity to ask Ignacio García Bercero questions. They raised their doubts about Intellectual Property, dataflow and CETA to which the Director of the DG for Trade provided detailed replies.

The event ended with the delivery of a gift to García Bercero by the Chamber and by Repsol, as an expression of gratitude for his collaboration with the institution. The wine served during the event was sponsored by Pernod Ricard.

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast-debate with Cristina Lobillo, Head of Cabinet of the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy

On 15 September 2015, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a breakfast-debate with Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Head of Cabinet of the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, who spoke about “COP 21 and the Energy Union”.

The event started with the intervention of Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce, who thanked the speaker for her participation and exposed her large background and experience in the fields of climate and energy.

Cristina Lobillo started her intervention by highlighting the importance of the speech pronounced a week ago by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the Commission, where he explained the important value of the conference that will take place at the end of the year: COP 21.

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The speaker supported the President´s message, and explained that COP 21 is only the beginning of a long way that pretends to put to an end, gradually but constantly, the emissions, not only in the EU but worldwide.

The conference, that would replace the Protocol of Kyoto, proofs the desire and international commitment to achieve an agreement in the energetic field. Leaded by the European Union, the mentioned agreement would fight for the reduction of the emissions from now to 2030. Mrs Lobillo explained that it was an ambitious plan with renewable, dynamic and long term objectives.

At the end of the event, there was an open debate where participants had the chance to discuss about COP 21 and the European migrant crisis, as a consequence of the climate change.

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

Luncheon-Debate with Román Escolano, Vice president of the European Investment Bank

Last Tuesday, 2nd of June, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a luncheon-debate with Román Escolano, Vice president of the European Investment Bank. The event was attended by the Ambassador of Spain in Luxembourg, Carlos Lojendio y Pardo Manuel de Villena, as well as European Institutions’ representatives, members of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce and corporate executives, among other participants. The luncheon-debate was sponsored by the technology consultant INDRA.
The President of the Chamber of Commerce, Juan Rodríguez-Villa Matons, welcomed the attendees and the Vice president, Sergio de Miguel-Jessel, presented the speaker to the audience, going over his trajectory and highlighting his relevant professional experience.

The Vice president of the European Investment Bank started his intervention presenting the particularities of the EIB functioning and its principal figures. Román Escolano highlighted the financial strength of the EIB, based on a strong capitalization, liquidity, stable deposits (2,6 billion in the last year and benefits weren’t disrupted not even during the crisis) and improved leverage, followed by a capital increase. Then, he noted that Spain is the main loan beneficiary, particularly transports, as the principal sector. “The BEI is the first funder of Spain”, he indicated.

In the second part of his speech, the Vice President focused on the eligibility and the objectives that should be accomplished by the various projects presented every year by the EIB and, finally, the high standards applied by the courts of the EIB in the selection it.

Following the presentation, attendees had the opportunity to ask questions to the Vice President, who provided detailed replies to all of them.

The event ended with the delivery of a gift to Román Escolano by the Chamber and by INDRA, as an expression of gratitude for his collaboration with the institution. The Ambassador of Spain in Luxembourg, Carlos Pardo Manuel Lojendio y Villena, thanked the Chamber for organizing the event and highlighted the importance of Spaniards in many important positions of the European Institutions in Luxembourg, such as Román Escolano. The director of INDRA in Brussels, David Luengo also thanked the Vice President for the splendid intervention carried out.

 

 

Luncheon-Debate with Margrethe Vestager, Commissionner for Competition: Anti-trust in digital markets

Margrethe Vestager, Commissionner for Competition, was the special guest on last Tuesday 12 May at the luncheon-debate organized by the “Business Circle” of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg. More than 85 attendees, representatives of the Spanish public institutions, directors of international companies and lobbies from the sector were present.

vestagerJuan Rodríguez-Villa Matons, president of the Chamber was in charge of the introduction of the European Commissionner for Competition, by emphasizing her well-known professional career after getting her degree in Economics.

Later, the Commissionner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager began her intervention about the themes such as cross border e-commerce, Google, reinforcement of competition law and protection of personal data.

vestager3According to Margrethe Vestager, Europe has innovative ideas that need to be implemented in order to guarantee economic growth, success and job creation. Therefore, she highlighted the importance of an in-depth-investigation to develop a new digital marketing strategy and a defragmentation of the communications in Europe. For this reason, she called for cooperation and equal treatment of companies, enhancing the importance to spread this message to the other member states in order to make them understand the problematic situation and make them respond to this challenge.

During question time, it had been proved to be of fundamental importance that the 28 member countries should work together for the benefit of the consumers and companies in order to avoid a monopoly in certain markets.

To conclude the debate, Juan Rodríguez-Villa, on behalf of the Official Chamber of Commerce, and José María Álvarez Pallete, Chief Operating Officer of Telefónica, gave a prize to Margrethe Vestager in recognition of her work within the department of Competition.

Finally, José María Álvarez Pallete spoke, while drawing the attention to the new opportunities, in the form of product or service that the sector of telecommunications nowadays offers.

The Chamber celebrates the success of the luncheon-debate and would like to thank the cooperation of Telefónica, sponsor and a reference company in the technological and digital sector, and to La Buena Vida, sponsor of the wine at the event.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.