Webinar: “Covid-19 response: examples of solutions in Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain”

Last Thursday 22nd of April, the Cultural and Scientific Department of the Spanish Embassy in Belgium and the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg, in collaboration with the Spanish Embassy in Luxembourg, the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI), the Spanish Office for Science and Technology (SOST-CDTI) and the Superior Council for Scientific Research’ (CSIC) Delegation to the European Union, organized the webinar Response to COVID-19: solutions’ examples in Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain. It consisted in a digital, special edition of the “Los Mediodias de la Embajada” and the fourth edition of the cycle Spain Means Innovation, a Chamber’ initiative to boost Spanish companies’ commercial and business interests at a local level in Belgium and Luxembourg.

During the webinar, different good practice examples were shown on the development of innovative technologies and solutions which are being carried out in order to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg, and both synergies and connections that can be established between the three countries were highlighted.

The webinar was inaugurated with welcoming words from H.E Ms. Beatriz Larrotcha Palma, Ambassador of Spain to the Kingdom of Belgium, who highlighted the importance of collaboration between countries in order to fight the pandemic, as well as thanking speakers and assistants for their presence. Boudewijn Catry, researcher at the Belgian public health and epidemiological center Sciensano spoke after her, and explained the Covid-19 epidemiological information’ management system launched by Belgium which has been identified by the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) as one of the leading for epidemiological monitoring in Europe.

Following him, Marina Martinez, H2020 Programme Officer at the CDTI-SOST office intervened and threshed the different innovation programs recently launched by the EU to fight the pandemic, as well as highlighting the important Spanish participation in the Horizon 2020 program in fields such as nanotechnology. After this, S.E. Sr. Bernardo de Sicart Escoda, Spanish Ambassador in the Great Duchy of Luxembourg, spoke and presented the important work of Spanish institutions and associations in Luxembourg to generate synergies between the two countries in all fields, including health.

After the firsts interventions the board of experts started, moderated by Sergi Farré, Cultural and Scientific Advisor of the Spanish Embassy in Belgium. Dr. Gérard Schockmel, specialist physician in infectious diseases at the Robert Schuman Luxembourg Hospital began by detailing the pandemic management in Luxembourg and current trends.

On the other hand, Adolfo Fernández, director, and Belén Cabal, main researcher, both of the center for nanomaterials and nanotechnology research CINN-CSIC-UO-PA, presented the innovative materials recently developed and its potential applications against Covid. José Maria Lagarón, of the IATA-CSIC research center, presented the development of a mask based on own nanotechnology as an example of rapid development of solutions against Covid given the scarcity of masks in the initial stages of the pandemic. Last, David Gering, Director of Communications at the Belgian pharmaceutical industry association (Pharma.be) explained the enormous importance of Belgium in the industry’s European network as well as of its impact on the Belgian economy.

During the question time, assistants to the event had the chance to express their doubts and comments to the speakers, such as the measures launched in Luxembourg, vaccination strategies or crisis management.

From the Official Spanish Commerce Chamber in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to warmly thank all speakers for their excellent presentation, as well as to all participants for their presence.

Webinar on “Pension & inheritance: 2 problems, 1 solution!”

On March 23rd, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a webinar on “Pension & inheritance: 2 problems, 1 solution!” in collaboration with its member company Pareto. The conference was held by Gauthier Remaekers, Senior financial planner at Pareto.

Although inheritance & succession law are very complex and turn even more complicated when moving in transnational contexts, the reality is that the only way to protect familiar or personal wealth when facing retirement or inheritance is to draft a plan paying attention to different aspects. In this planification, the state pension after retirement should only cover around 30% on the annual income after retirement and corresponds to the “first pillar” of the plan. The pension systems differ importantly between countries and has to be taken into account, for example, in Belgium there is “pay as you go” system. The different pillars corresponding to savings and/or pensions fund are also critical in the planification and taxation has to be always kept in mind under Belgian law as taxes are higher than in other countries.

Taxation is nevertheless present in all phases of any wealth planning activity and, of course, especially in inheritance matters. The taxes paid in the revenues, indirect taxes are followed by an inheritance taxation that varies between countries and even regions within countries, for example in Belgium. Therefore, planification of wealth for inheritance is critical to smartly minimize the impact of this taxations. The order of inheritance and the number of legal heirs were also featured in the webinar to explain the different schemes or formulas that an inheritance can take in real life. For this retirement planning, the figure of an adviser can make the difference and all experts agree on the fact that the plan should be built in an inverted pyramid scheme featuring the different components of wealth (savings, real state, etc.) according to the foreseen economical needs.

Participants were able to ask questions to the speaker during the Q&A session. Thus, topics such as retirement in cross-countries context and regional taxes disparities were discussed.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce we thank Pareto and Gauthier Remaekers for their excellent presentation as well as to all attendees for their present.


In collaboration with:

Webinar on “Boost your business in the EU: internationalization and capacity building for SMEs”

On March 10th, the  Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg and the  Fundación Equipo Humano organized in the frame of the launch event of the  MobiliseSME Programme, the webinar calledBoost your business in the EU: internationalization and capacity building for SMEs 

 The online event was welcomed by Juan Rodríguez-Villa Matons, President of the Chamber.  

He expressed the aim of the association to continue supporting entrepreneurship and SMEs through EU initiatives such as the MobiliseSME programme, where the Chamber is the coordinator of the project, and to join forces to face the current challenges and those that are yet to come.   

Denis Genton, Head of Unit of DG EMPL, presented the efforts, policies and legal instruments of the European Commission to maintain free mobility of workers in the Single Market. He explained the European Job Mobility Portal EURES and ended his intervention stressing the importance of the MobiliseSME programme to contribute to upgrade skills of European workers through free labor mobility during the recovery process post COVID-19.  

Crispin Waymouth, Deputy Head of Unit DG GROW, highlighted the three main objectives of the European Commission for SMEs: sustainability and the green economy, digitalization, and resilience. He mentioned Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) as a contact point for SMEs with experienced business consultants specialized in internationalization and presented the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) as one of the European projects to foster international cooperation among European entrepreneurs. The Chamber is also taking part in this programme as intermediate organization for Belgium and Luxembourg.  

During the panel discussion, Beatriz Rios, EU reporter, mediated the discussion and directed the attendees’ questions to the panelists.  

Jose Enrique Val, EU Project Manager and co-cordinator of the MobiliseSME programme at Fundación Equipo Humano, talked about the objectives of this European programme, being the main one to promote SMEs internationalization and to boost their capacity building, staff skills and knowledge. Participating SMEs can enjoy multiple benefits, such as international expansion, creation of new products or services, market research and wide their networks abroad, between others.  

Then, Noelia Sánchez, Project manager and coordinator of the MobiliseSME programme from the Chamber, explained the registration process for companies that want to participate in this pilot project, as well as the practical and financial support provided by the organizations that act as local contact points of the MobiliseSME programme.  

Lastly, attendees could enjoy the testimonials of the two first SMEs that have participated in the MobiliseSME programme. Marta Templado, CEO of Turiart, and Claudio Cristofori, CEO of J&K Viaggi, explained how they found in the MobiliseSME programme the perfect opportunity to further expand their business while their companies in the tourism sector had been affected by the COVID-19 crisis 

During the Q&A session, assistants had the opportunity to ask further questions regarding the MobiliseSME programme, with topics such as the future and scope of the MobiliseSME project to help European SMEs with their main challenges and barriers, tackling the current COVID-19 situation.  

After the webinar, a 1:1 meeting session took place for those participants interested in having tailored meetings with MobiliseSME local contact points to further information about the programme. 

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg, we would like to thank Denis Genton, Crispin Waymouth, Marta Templado, Claudio Cristofori, Fundación Equipo Humano, and all the attendees for their participation. 

27/04 Webinar on “Changes that may affect your HR management”

Next Tuesday April 27th the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg will organize a webinar on “Changes that may affect your HR management” in collaboration with its member company SD Worx. During the webinar, Valérie t’Serstevens, legal consultant in national and international law and Hugues Thibaut, Public Affairs, both at SD Worx will make an update on recent changes that may affect HR management of the companies.

Among the issues on the agenda at the webinar are how much is the homeworking allowance, a work permit needed to hire a British employee in Belgium or is the reduction of social contributions for the first 6 employees still valid.

The webinar will be held in English and is free of charge.

If you wish to participate please register through the following link.

Webinar organized in collaboration with:

The forums “StartCraft, Co-innovating for the future of crafts” gathered testimonials and advice from artisans to achieve successful crafts business.

On January 18th, 20th and 25th, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized the professional networking forums StartCraft, Co-innovating for the future of crafts, in the framework of the European project StartCraft, with the presence and participation of renowned artists and craftsmen from Belgium and Luxembourg, specialized in a wide range of sectors.

StartCraft is a project funded by the European Erasmus+ programme, whose main objective is to develop and offer training and practical education in entrepreneurship and business management for artisan entrepreneurs. For this reason, and in order to ensure that these online training courses are adapted to the real-life challenges faced by artisans and craftworkers, the project launched these meetings with the collaboration and intervention of craft professionals.

During these sessions, the participants were able to learn more about the project in detail, as well as to put forward the difficulties they had to face when starting their own business. They also exchanged views with StartCraft managers on training, tax issues, customer acquisition methods and how Covid has affected them.

The Chamber thanks all participants for their testimonials and advice.

Find out more about the program here.

Webinar: “Towards new urban mobility: new alternatives to the automobile, digital technologies and transport innovations”

Last Friday December 4th, the Cultural and Scientific Department of the Spanish Embassy in Belgium, and the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg, with the collaboration of the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) and the Spanish Office of Science and Technology (SOST) organized the third edition of the “Mediodías de la Embajada”, within the framework of the Spain means Innovation program.

The webinar was focused on “Towards new urban mobility: new alternatives to the automobile, digital technologies and transport innovations”, as part of the program of scientific diplomacy and dissemination of science, technology and innovation of Spain in Belgium. The event explored the innovation and business opportunities between Spain and Belgium in the field of electric mobility.

The Spanish Ambassador in Belgium, H.E. Mrs. Beatriz Larrotcha, started the event with the welcoming words and stressed the successful collaboration between Spain and Belgium in the field of science and technology among many others. H.E. Mrs. Beatriz Larrotcha thanked all the attendees for their presence and the speakers for sharing their story. Mr. Mikaël Van Eeckhoudt, mobility advisor, followed in the use of the floor on behalf of Elke Van den BrandtBrussels’ Minister Mobility, Public Works and Road Safety, and highlighted the efforts carried out in Brussels and many other cities around Europe to ensure the correct transition into e-mobility taking care of aspects as the required infrastructures or reduction of pollutant mobility.

Noshin Omar, CEO of Belgian company Avesta Battery & Energy Engineering (ABEE) shared its experience of collaboration with Spain in the development of electric mobility solutions based on good practices and knowledge sharing as a fundamental part of the partnership without forgetting the importance of commercialization. From Ikerlan, the Spanish counterpart in this collaboration, Igor Villarreal SarriaHead of Department, detailed the different initiatives and projects they are currently working in as well as the fluid relation with ABEE. After that, Marina Martínez, H2020 Programme Officer in the CDTI-SOST Office in Brussels, explained the very different opportunities for research and development of e-mobility solution under EU projects for Spanish companies.

Finally, during the debate moderated by Beatriz Ríos, Journalist, the speakers had the chance to discuss about the potential and future of green mobility innovation in the transition towards a decarbonized economy, the importance to put the citizens welfare in the center of all mobility policies, the need to smooth project management and reduce the administrative burden as well as the sensible issue of the origin of some critical raw materials like cobalt or lithium in some African countries.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg, we want to warmly thank all the attendees for their presence and the speakers for their interesting presentations.

New collaboration with the business association Agoria

The Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg is starting a new series of collaboration with Agoria, a Belgian association that brings together more than 1600 technology companies and whose main objective is to provide its member companies with personalized advice, access to market studies and a network of companies interested in collaborate in the field of technological innovation.

Last Thursday, November 26th, the Chamber co-organized with Agoria’s Energy Technology Club a webinar focused on the opportunities to invest in Spain in the energy sector.

P.J. Provoost, Agoria’s Business Development Manager and Marta González, the Chamber’s Secretary General, welcomed all the member companies and expressed their satisfaction with this new collaboration. After them, María Palanca, Counsellor of the Economic and Commercial Office of the Spanish Embassy, explained the main energy policies in Spain and presented the areas in which investments are a priority as well as the relevant actors. For its part, the guest company, Iberdrola, described its main projects and explained the technologies in which they are interested in investing, through Diego Diaz Pilas, Head of New Ventures & Technology Prospects.

Webinar: Insurtech report: Discovering Future of Insurance

On November 26th, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a webinar on ‘Insurtech report: discovering the future of insurance’ in collaboration with its member company everis. The event took place within the framework of the Spanish Financial Forum, a committee of the Chamber focused on the financial services industry.

Marta Gonzalez Benguria, Secretary General of the Chamber, introduced the webinar thanking the collaboration of everis and the participation of the panelists.

She then passed the floor to Richard Calvo, Insurtech Project Leader at everis, who began by presenting the fourth edition of the ‘InsurTech Outlook’ report, recently published by everis and NTT Data.

This report began to be prepared in 2016, when the investment in Insurtech produced the first impacts on the market. The growing trend of the sector has not stopped since then, reaching 6,300 million dollars in investments in 2019. Richard Calvo highlighted that among the different models of Insurtech, on-demand models and insurance for use, based on technologies such as IoT, Artificial Intelligence or Cloud&Mobile Applications, are those that have acquired the greatest importance, becoming the recipients of 90% of the investment. He also spoke of the main actors involved in the world of Insurtech, including investors, insurers and technological giants.

The report presented by Calvo also analyses the patterns that are repeated in successful startups, for which he uses the concept of ‘EXIT’, which refers to the purchase of a startup by another company and is an indicator of success.

Finally, the speaker indicated the main changes that have taken place in the Insurtechs sector as a result of the COVID19 crisis, among which he pointed out: the slowdown in investments, the variation in the Burn Rate KPI, and the creation of new investment opportunities such as in the Telemedicine and genome sector.

During the question time, attendees were able to present their doubts and comments on issues of interest, which were answered jointly by the everis experts: Dirk Croenen, Head of everis BeNeLux Insurance sector, Marc Durante, Director Insurance everis Luxembourg, Carlos Ordoñez Sanchez, Global Head of Digital Insurance and Richard Calvo. Thus, questions such as the possible change of paradigm in primary health care due to the combined effect of Covid-19 and digitalisation or where Europe is in the race to be at the head of the Insurtech sector with respect to the main players: China, the United States and India were dealt with.

The Chamber presents the EYE programme at KU Leuven University

On 16 November, the Chamber presented the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) programme to 35 students of the Master’s in Business Economics in the specialisation of entrepreneurship and innovation at KU Leuven University.

During the class “Foundations of Entrepreneurship”, Paula Úbeda, Project Assistant of the Chamber, gave the students information about what the EYE programme is, who can participate, the registration process and the benefits of this programme. Furthermore, as an additional element, the Chamber presented the profile of a Dutch host entrepreneur interested in new entrepreneurs in the sustainable design sector in Belgium.

This presentation and collaboration with the department of administration, strategy and innovation of the Katholieke Universiteit de Leuven demonstrates the importance of cooperation between universities and organisations to continue promoting and supporting future entrepreneurs in Europe.

The Chamber appreciates the invitation of KU Leuven University and Professors Michael Moedl and Pieter Vermeulen to present this international entrepreneurship opportunity to their students and looks forward to continuing collaboration with them to promote entrepreneurship and enterprise among university students.

If you would like to know more about the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme, please contact Soraya Bravo (project manager) sending an email to erasmus4youngentrepreneurs@e-camara.com.

Webinar: Substance requirements and future application of the MLI to Spanish infrastructure and real estate structures

On November 12th, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized a webinar on “Substance requirements and future application of the MLI to Spanish infrastructure and real estate structures” in collaboration with Deloitte Luxembourg, with the participation of three experts from Deloitte in this area: Francisco Da Cunha (Partner), Samara Brey (Senior Manager) and Victor Sanlorien (Senior). The webinar took place within the framework of the Spanish Financial Forum, a committee of the Chamber focused on the financial services industry.

Marta González Benguria, General Secretary of the Chamber, who acted as moderator of the event, introduced the speakers and thanked them for their participation.

Francisco da Cunha then took the floor and thanked the Chamber for the invitation and all the attendees for their interest in the event. The speaker began by explaining the concept of ‘Substance’ in the context of tax treaties against double taxation and how this concept has evolved throughout the different versions of the treaties in terms of impact and coherence.

Samara Brey went on to discuss the Multilateral Instrument (MLI), which is currently operational in 94 different jurisdictions including Spain and Luxembourg. She explained what steps were needed for the MLI to apply to a Double Taxation Convention between two countries and what the minimum standards were that countries could not change. Samara also explained the principle purpose test (PPT), the test which seeks to determine whether treaties to which the MLI applies are not used to create opportunities for non-taxation or reduction of taxation. Therefore, Brey recommends that companies document that their operations have a substance and legitimacy that goes beyond mere tax reasons. The rapporteur went on to talk about the Danish Cases, and the case law they have created.

Victor Salorien spoke about the interpretation of these rules by the Spanish administration and justice and in particular the interpretation of the term ‘substance’ in Spain and Luxembourg respectively.

After the presentation, a question session was opened during which the attendees were able to raise all the doubts that had arisen during the event.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank Deloitte Luxembourg and the speakers for their collaboration in organising the webinar.

In collaboration with:

Deloitte Accountancy - Credit Expo België