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.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.