Luncheon-Debate with Joaquín Almunia

Mr. Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the European Commission and responsible for the General Directorate of Competition was the main speaker in the luncheon-debate organized by the Spanish Official Chamber of Commerce for Belgium and Luxembourg. During the speech the main highlights of the plan against the economic crisis were discussed from his General Directorate point of view.

A wide number of participants attended to the event including personalities from the Spanish and European institutions, ambassadors and representatives of the most important companies from Spain and Europe. The Vice-president Almunia tackled the important issues regarding the economic and political scenario that takes place.

The event started with the intervention of Mr. Juan Rodríguez-Villa, the president of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce who appreciated the Vice-president´s good disposition with the Chamber. This was the second participation after the one celebrated in the year 2006 when he was responsible Economic and Monetary Affairs.

The Vice-president took the word and started discoursing about the crisis period we are immersed in “It is fair to say that the crisis has been changing while the time passed”     […] “it has mutated” – he added. “Each of the measures that were launched to mitigate the crisis and redirect the economic situation to a new GDP growth, made the crisis changed itself and uncovered another problem”. In this context and using a medical comparison, the crisis was defined as a “virus” which came from the U.S.A through the financial markets, which were not controlled enough. Finally, it culminated in the sovereign debt crisis which has revealed the structural problems of the financial system.

The Vice-president regretted the birth of new nationalist stances that have recently appeared, creating a stressful working atmosphere for the European Institutions. With regard to the structural measures that some countries have faced he indicated that even when some of them could generate pessimism in the short-term timeline, the result must be always measured from a wider point of view.

After reviewing the general economic situation, the Vice-president debated about some issues closer to the General Directorate of Competition. Some of the basic pillars directly related to competition were exposed, like: the reduction of barriers of entry, the use of authority abuses, the reduction of the public money amount some companies received and the free circulation of services in the domestic market.

Finally, the Vice-president asserted that the innovation must be part of those fundamental pillars where Europe must lean on, in order to heal the economic problems and assure an economic sustainable growth.

Mr. Juan Rodríguez-Villa Matons, President of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg showed his gratitude to Vice-president Almunia and his team for participating in this event using the Chamber´s platform in order to make public the fundamental pillars of his General Directorate, which shows the growing importance and prestige of the Chamber on a European level.



Luncheon-Debate with Androulla Vassiliou

Androulla Vasilliou, European Commissioner for Education and Culture has announced a new investment plan in the European countries in order to contribute to the youth employment which is extremely low in certain cases.

This new plan will be developed with “smart public investment decisions” in the period between 2014-2020 with an estimated 70% funding growth. These funds will be transferred from the European Structural budget. In this line, the Commissioner has given concrete ideas such as the creation of the program “ERASMUS for All” which will be fully operative by the 2014 linking other seven European mobility programs which will “create synergies, a better access to scholarships and internships, and will be more efficient eventually”. The ERASMUS for All program not only focuses on the youngest but on the whole European population in order to contribute the mobility of the high-skilled people who will be supported institutionally and economically.

Another relevant issue is the idea of linking the investment in ambitious projects with a high rate of success, to the training of new graduates and young Europeans. Furthermore, Commissioner has asserted that by year 2020, there will be eighty million people in Europe with skills that will not be market relevant, which makes us wonder if the educational and labour institutions must be better interconnected, in order to identify the necessary skills that should be developed. Besides, there will be a specific strategy to combat the high-rate of “early school leavers” which in some European countries almost reaches 30%. This strategy consists of encouraging the “vocational work” where people could work in an environment where all their potential could be developed. To this aim, the platform “University Business Forum” will be created to work in two main directions: a knowledge alliance and an university alliance.

With the aim of developing the I.R.D and ICT the Commission has launched two other research programs. The Marie Curie and the Industrial PhD mainly focus on researchers and professionals from the most technical degrees. The Industrial PhD is based in the Danish model and it is part of the EURO20 Million program.

Finally, the Commissioner spoke about the “creation of the necessary conditions in times where it is all about reducing the budgets”. She added that the innovation and the creativity could be the key fact that is needed. In this sense, she spoke about the “Institution of Innovation” very linked with the ICT technologies built in some fundamental pillars such as “The healthy living”, “Food for the future”, “Raw Marterials” and “Smart and Social Servicies”.

Mr. Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-president of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce for Belgium and Luxemburg kindly appreciated the participation of the Commissioner in the luncheon-debate as well as the breakdown of the investment plan in education and training for the period 2014-2020. This shows the large European projection that the Chamber has consolidated.


ONCE Foundation. Assessment of the “Added value of the ESF programmes managed by the ONCE Foundation since 2000”

The Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg was elected, for the second time, to frame a mission of the ONCE Foundation, during its visit to Brussels in the Hotel Sofitel Brussels Le Louise on 22 November 2011.

The chairman of the ONCE Foundation, Miguel Carballeda, was present at the event as well as the chairman of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg, Juan Rodríguez-Villa Matons. Luis Planas was the speaker of the ambassador of the Permanent Representation of Spain to the EU.

IMG_1504The ONCE Foundation is currently at the same time Spain’s biggest private employer, carrying out various activities. As Juan Rodríguez-Villa Maton emphasized: “This organization is recognized for its importance in business, such as the social goals it pursues and achieves.”

Along these lines, Mr. Carballeda pointed out that, although the situation of the citizens of the European Union has improved “the crisis in which we find ourselves and of which we hope it will gradually disappear is proof of the fact that we cannot relax our vigilance”. Thus, he requested social and labor “to be a priority in future strategies of the European Union and that they devote sufficient resources.”

Another present assistant of the Spanish ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium was Silvia Iranzo Gutiérrez and the President of the European Disability Forum, Yannis Vardakastanis.

The main objective of the ONCE Foundation is transferring its organization model to the organizations in order to give a boost to the employees that are disabled.”