Event #Yes2Belgium: Prime Minister Charles Michel thanks the Chamber its support to Belgium as an attractive place for foreign investments

The Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg coorganised, in collaboration with other 10 bilateral Chambers, an event the 22th June in Brussels, with the purpose of supporting Belgium as a safe investment place and as an attractive establishment location of foreign companies.

Under the slogan #Yes2Belgium, more than 360 distinguished guests, including business leaders, government officials and foreign diplomats, attended the event.

The Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, who thanked personally the support of the Chamber to our Vice-President, Pablo López Álvarez, leaded the event.

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During their conversation, Prime Minister Charles Michel was interested in Spanish investments in Belgium and the Chamber’s activities. Pablo López Álvarez, outlined the compromise of Spanish companies with Belgium and remembered that our country is the seventh commercial partner of Belgium.

Our Vice-President invited personally Charles Michel to participate as keynote speaker in a future luncheon-debate of our forum “Business Circle”, an invitation to which the Prime Minister answered positively.

This initiative arose due to the events that happened the 22th March in Brussels. This initiative then wanted to reiterate that the international business community, which directly employs about 700,000 people in Belgium, recognizes the country as an attractive place for investments, a safe place to do business and a great place to live.

 

      

 

 

 

 

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Creative Start-up Europe: Projects presentation

 

Last 22 of June, the projects of the programme Creative Startup Europe were presented in Brussels  in an event held in the Cervantes Institute, and counted with the representation of companies and public institutions, both local and Spanish.

The programme was organised by the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg, Finnova and FIBICC, with the collaboration of the Department of Culture and the Department of Employment and Social Security of the Belgian Embassy. The aim of this event was to promote and support the entrepreneurial spirit of Spanish youth living in Belgium in the cultural sector and creative industries, as well as contributing to the employability of young people abroad.

It is expected that the participating entities will continue to organize activities enabling the submitted projects to start up.

 

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Conference: “New tax measures adopted in Belgium for SMEs” with Rafaël Álvarez Campa – 22/06

Last June 22th, the Chamber organized in Brussels, in collaboration with one of its members, Wantiez, Bailleux, Causin & Janssen Bruxelles, the conference “New measures adopted in Belgium in favor of the the SMEs”. Belgian representatives of the economic and fiscal sector attended to this event.

Rafaël Álvarez Campa, prosecutor of Wantiez, Bailleux, Causin & Janssen Bruxelles, presented the new fiscal measures adopted in Belgium to the federal and regional level for the small and medium enterprises. The speaker explained in detail the different measures and, later, the assistants had the opportunity to ask some questions.

One of the new fiscal measures at a federal level is the “tax shelter for the SMEs”. This recent measure is designated to every individual subscripted to new nominal shares or to the parts of a company recently set up with the reduction of taxes as a main fiscal advantage. Nonetheless, the speaker highlighted the impossibility to combine this fiscal measure with others, as the exclusion of the leaders of the societies as direct beneficiaries.

Within this category, the individuals subscripted to shares or to parts belonging to crowdfunding platforms and fund starters with a maximum to receive of the 250,000€ are considered direct beneficiaries. Also the SMEs are required to meet some requirements, as the necessity to own a document that points out some relevant data as the year of the acquisition of the shares and its continuous verification year after year. More precisely, the companies within this category were classified by size attending their general conditions: medium and small size enterprise, and other pertinent characteristics.

There are excluded of this fiscal measure the societies created out of a fusion or division of other societies, real estate companies, management enterprises, investment and treasury companies or societies in process of juridical reorganization. When it comes to the general conditions needed to benefit from this fiscal measure, the speaker pointed out some requirements for the societies to fulfill like the date of constitution (not later than January 2013) and the starting of its activities within the consecutive 48 months after being constituted. The company can be Belgian or foreign but established in Belgium.

Later on, the speaker talked about more specific cases related to small and micro societies. He highlighted the steps to follow in order to obtain the already mentioned fiscal advantages designated to Belgian residents and no Belgian residents. Within the measure “tax shelter, the speaker emphasized the several direct or indirect investments with the help of an intermediator or starter found.

Secondly, it was explained the new fiscal measure of declaration of suspension of payments for individuals/SMEs that has been recently constituted. The speaker also talked about the possibility of not paying the totality of the professional retention, which represents a 10% for the natural persons and a 20% for the micro societies that comply with the criteria of the micro societies.

The beneficiaries of this fiscal exemption are the individuals and societies of recent creation registered in Banque-Carrefour up to 4 years. It is necessary to comply with some formalities to enjoy this fiscal advantage, as it is to have proof of documents of nominative and justified data of the already mentioned needed conditions. The individual and societies out of this fiscal measure are the employers in situations of difficulty or dissolution. The speaker also mentioned, as a peculiarity of this measure, the possibility to gather it with other fiscal exemptions.

In third place, the speaker introduced the next measure at the federal level. This is the exemption of interest payments of loans for emerging SMEs acquired through a “crowdfunding” platform and oriented to finance “new economic initiatives”. The three main advantages of this tax measure are: the exemption of the first 15,000 € borrowed, the limit exemption of interests the four first years of loan, and the exemption per year and per contributor. In the case of being exempted, there is no need to be declared by the lender. Nevertheless, including in the tax return the number of crowdfunding loans obtained will be needed.

Afterwards, the speaker wanted to outline that the concept of crowdfunding is not completely tackled in the Belgian legal system. However, for this measure to be executed, there are three players needed: a crowdfunding platform, which works as an intermediary, the entrepreneur and the investor. Once introduced this measure, the speaker explained at greater length the conditions for these players to be considered as so. Firstly, the firm engaged does not have to be necessarily Belgian o set up in Belgium. Secondly, the investor must be an individual with a proof of title, that in case of being the owner of the firm, will be excluded from this exemption.

At the Belgian federal level, the fourth and last tax measure was introduced with the name of “investments in digital sector”. This measure consists of a fiscal deduction for all those individuals and SMEs investing in capital and digital assets.

The players who will benefit from this measure are SMEs. Nevertheless, a set of criteria is needed for being considered as SME, such as having less than 4.5 million assets and a number of employees below 50.

Regarding investments in this sector, the general concept consists of integrating and exploiting digital invoicing and payment systems online. Investments in IT and digital equipment that enables invoicing, storing or singing digitally will be promoted. In conclusion, it could be said that investments considered in this new tax measure aim to reinforce security and privacy of ICT. The tax advantages obtained with this measure will be tax deductions when investing on digital capital and assets.

To finalize the conference, the speaker introduced tax measures at regional level in Belgium. The measures presented were: “coup de pouce”, loans in Wallonia, and “win-win” loans in Flanders.

The speaker spoke about the first measure outlining as one of the conditions to be benefit from it as to be legally stablished in Wallonia. “Coup de pouce” loans are loans to a SME or individuals (being the maximum quantity per contributor 50.000 € and 10.000€ per lender).

In exchange of this, the recipients could have a reduction of taxes, being excluded housing companies, management companies, companies in reorganization, companies created from a fusion or companies listed in the stock market. The speaker outlined as well the importance of the nature of the loans, which only given for entrepreneurial activities.

The second measure, “win-win” loans in Flanders, was introduced to the participants outlining that, in this case, the lender should be one Flemish SME, independently from the number of years from its establishment. Many of its characteristics are similar to the previously stated measure.

Àlvarez Campa finalized his intervention with a Q&A session. Among them, it can be outlined the case of tax reductions when hiring a first worker, that is, an exemption to the contribution to the Belgian social security. The speaker explained at great length this exemption with the example of tourist and hospitality sectors, sectors where of unreported employment is frequent and some regulatory tax measures are required in order to prevent that unreported hiring.

Extremadura wins the European Entrepreneur Region 2017 award

Extremadura Autonomous Community was awarded with the European Entrepreneur Region 2017 Prize. This award recognizes the European regions that started up an innovative and outstanding strategy on entrepreneurship and which presents the most credible and advanced future plan.

Europa_1Economy and Infrastructures’ Counselor, José Luis Navarro, received the award in Brussels from the European Committee of Regions’ President, Markky Markkyla. Thanks to this award, Extremadura will be named as the “European Entrepreneur Region” (EER) during the 2017 year.

The prize rewards the European regions following an outstanding and innovative strategy on entrepreneurship and recognizes the ones with a credible, advanced and promising future plan.

José Luis Navarro pointed out that promoting the entrepreneurship culture is not an option but a “compelling necessity for the future of our economy” and stated that “we are generating an integral ecosystem favourable for the entrepreneurship that has its referent in the educative system”.

Lower Austria and the Western Region of Greece received also the award. It entails a big responsibility, as the EER jury members will supervise regularly the execution of the planned measures.

 

Conference with Intertrust Luxembourg “Structuring investments in & with Spain”

June 16th, Intertrust Luxembourg organized the conference “Structuring investments in & with Spain”, in collaboration with the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg. The Ambassador of Spain in Luxembourg, Mr. Carlos de Lojendio, and many other representatives of the financial sector and other complementary services attended this event.

DSC_0011_retocadaSergio de Miguel-Jessel, Vice-president of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg, gave a welcome speech, presented the conference’s program, and introduced the speakers to the audience.  In addition, he also thanked Intertrust for the collaboration with the Chamber in the organization of the event.

DSC_0057Rafael Calvo, associated of Garrigues, talked about investing in Spain from Luxembourg taking into account the actual fiscal scenario. He made an overview of the nowadays economic factors that contextualize the Spanish market of the multinationals opening a debate about “planning” and tax evasion. Furthermore, the speaker pointed out the principal factors that damage the international structural investments as the double imposition. To end up, Mr. Calvo mentioned the nowadays principal initiatives of the OECD, G20 and EU, like the directives of the package “anti-tax avoidance” as an attempt to correct the errors previously cited. In the second part of his speech he focused on the valid legislation of Spain when it comes to approved regulations to mitigate the tax barriers. He concluded proposing possible solutions to the problem such as an initial “filtering” of the structural investments.

DSC_0094_retocadaLater on, Frank Welman, General Director of Intertrust Luxembourg, highlighted the most characteristic factors of the fiscal market of Luxembourg, as well as a varied offer of products and financial services and their fiscal and political stability. He presented a general vision of Intertrust Luxembourg emphasizing their costumers database in Europe and Latin-America, where the second biggest office of Intertrust is located.

Carmen Rozpide, General Director of Intertrust Spain, started pointed out the added value of the Spanish office of Intertrust Spain as a business gateway to make business with Latin-America. She went through the history of the Intertrust office in Spain since it was established in 1995; she highlighted its proximity to the client. Mrs. Rozpide focused on the diversity of the activity sectors of the clients of Intertrust Spain and their adaptation capacity towards new challenges, ensuring a personalized service adapted to each client.

To end up, Sergio de Miguel-Jessel opened a round of questions in which the audience had the opportunity to get their questions answered by the speakers. During the conversations, it was raised the possibility of a change concerning the Spanish fiscal scenario as a consequence of the actual political uncertainty.

Juan Rodríguez-Villa Matons closed up the event expressing his gratitude to Intertrust and to the audience.

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After the conference, the participants enjoyed a cocktail and had the opportunity to Exchange opinions about the subjects earlier discussed.

 

 

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Tapas and Cervantes had a leading role in the Spanish Day in Brussels

Last Sunday, 19th of June of 2016, was celebrated the Spanish Day in the square of Spain in Brussels. They were carried out cultural and promotional activities commemorating the IV Centenary of Miguel de Cervantes’ death.

IMG_1874The Spanish Tourist Office in Belgium prepared a cultural programme for everyone. Among the activities, we could find concerts, tastings of Spanish products, recreational activities for children, as well as the installation of a giant interactive map dedicated to Miguel de Cervantes in the square of Spain. The map of more than 200 square meters placed the principal localities where the genius of the Spanish literature lived.

The Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg participated in the Spanish Day presenting its project within the framework of Programa Jóvenes programme supported by the Employment and Social Security Ministry. This project aims the labour integration of the young Spaniards in Belgium and Luxembourg (more information at http://www.empleobelux.com/?lang=en). The Chamber presented also the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme, in which it has become a local contact point in Belgium.

On Sunday it was put an end to the Tapas Week. During this week, seven restaurants of the city offered a special tapas menu. Coinciding with the Centenary of the writer Miguel de Cervantes’ death, the above mentioned tapas were inspired in some of the main characters of his most famous novel, “El Quijote”.

 

Presentation of findings “European interests in the Spanish economy” by Infoempresa.com

According to the study of more than 250,000 users elaborated by Infoempresa.com and presented today with the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg 1 of out every 2 international interests in Spanish companies comes from EU countries.

• Germany is the country that has most increased its interest in Spanish companies during the Q1 of 2016.
• Interest in the Spanish industrial sector stands out among the international professionals.
• 25% of European professionals are interested in startups or newly created companies.

Brussels, June 7th, 2016.- Infoempresa.com, an economic intelligence web service by Telecoming, has presented today with the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg, the “European interests in the Spanish economy” study, reflecting the interest in Spanish companies worldwide. In this regard, 1 of every 2 inquiries about Spanish companies comes from professionals from the European Union (EU).

According to this study, of more than 250.000 users, United Kingdom has been the country with the greatest interest in Spanish companies during 2015. More than 11% of international queries correspond to this location (11,4%), followed by USA (8%) and Mexico (7,5%).

At EU level, United Kingdom also leads the ranking of interest in Spanish companies in 2015, with 25,3% of the EU total. It’s followed by Germany (15,5%), France (15,3%), Portugal (11,1%) and Italy (8,1%). German professionals’ interest grows in 2016 increasing its weight 2,5 points.

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The manufacturing industry, a sector on the rise for Europe
During 2015, the Spanish trade sector has been the one that has generated more interest among the European professionals, with 25% of the queries, followed by the construction sector, covering 13,1%, and professional activities, with 12,5%. This data lines up with the Spanish business structure, composed mostly by companies in these sectors.

Figure2

The increased interest in industrial enterprises in Spain is very significant due to its 4.3 points growth during Q1 2016, establishing the manufacturing industry sector as the most relevant for European professionals with business interests in Spain. The importance of this industry, which is gradually increasing, is already 12,2% of total European queries.

Startups, increasingly more relevant for the EU
European professionals tend to be mainly interested in established companies, more than 10 years old. This kind of enterprises are the main focus of 57% of queries.

Figure3

However, startups or newly created companies (0-5 years) are increasingly drawing attention outside Spain. In this regard, they represent 25% of European professionals’ queries (2 points above the international average), a figure with a tendency to increase in the next years. The remaining 17% corresponds to companies created between 5-10 years ago.

The profile of the Spanish enterprise that most interests the EU is a limited company, with more than 10 years of activity, operating in the wholesale and retail trade sector, and currently active.

About infoempresa.com
Infoempresa.com is an economic intelligence web service that offers information about all the Spanish companies and managers. Specialist in collection, analysis and distribution of financial information, it was created in 2014. Infoempresa.com is a product of Telecoming, a Spanish company focused on cloud and mobile technology. It develops innovative solutions for the distribution, promotion and monetization of digital content, and technology for business communications and connected objects (IoT).

Infoempresa.com press contacts
Carmen García-Morales carmen.garcia-morales@bm.com (91 384 6713)
Eloy Aguado eloy.aguado@bm.com (91 384 6727)

Smart Cities: fostering opportunities between Spain and Brussels-Capital Region

The Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organized last 27th of April a seminar on “Smart Cities: fostering opportunities between Spain and Brussels-Capital Region” in Brussels, in cooperation with Brussels Invest & Export. The event was organized with the aim of promoting the collaboration between the public and private sector of both countries for the development of projects such as Smart Cities and intelligent cities.

The seminar was attended by more than 30 representatives of institutions and local and Spanish companies interested in exchanging experiences in the sector.

The President of the Chamber, Juan Rodríguez-Villa, and the Commercial counselor of the Brussels Capital Region in Madrid, Ariane Léonard, welcomed the attendees and emphasized the excellent collaboration the institutions maintain with the aim of boosting trade relations between Spain and Brussels.

Céline Vanderborght, Project Manager Smart City of the BRIC (Brussels Regional Informatics Centre), opened the speeches by presenting the Smart Cities project of the Brussels Capital Region. “The citizens need to be the center of the Smart Cities strategies and the protection of their personal data is a key factor”, she emphasized. Furthermore, she highlighted the fact that the Brussels Capital Region disposes of highly qualified staff and the necessary means to develop a Smart City, but they require specific projects in order to reach this target.

Olivier Lefevre, of the NRB, continued with the vision of the Brussels Capital Region and stressed the importance of information being transparent so that not only public administrations participate in the projects but also citizens can propose and vote for different initiatives. Francis Hayen, who represented Belfius, emphasized the existence of financial solutions for the development of a Smart City and Eric Auquière, of the STIB-MIVB, talked about the commitment his company has in favor of the creation of a more accessible and sustainable city by aiming, for example, to create an ecologic public transport system.

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Marie Latour of Zabala Innovation Consulting talked about the vision and experience Spain has in the sector and presented in detail the European funding opportunities in the area of Smart Cities. Daniel Sanz, of Libelium, presented various global projects in which the company has participated for the installation of sensors. He explained the opportunities of the “Smart World” sector by giving some examples that help to improve the quality of life of citizens such as “Smart Parking”. Finally, Eduardo Martínez, of Indra, highlighted the importance of the integration of the services a Smart City can offer in different areas such as energy, health or transport within the same platform. During his speech, he showed the audience the actual case of the Smart City project developed by Indra in La Coruña, which shows the many possibilities a comprehensive platform offers. Besides, it allows to monitor the different areas of a city.

DSC_0167After the speeches, a discussion board took place in which Iñigo de Palacio, Senior Global Director Institutional Relations at Indra, who was the moderator of the seminar, invited the participants to debate about relevant issues in the field of Smart Cities.

It was concluded that, in order to not only have a Smart City but also a Smart Europe, we have to establish some standards to be able to guide the companies. The idea that there´s a “central-player” that can moderate the ecosystem of the Smart Cities altogether was also suggested.

Finally, David Martinez Hornillos, Economic and Commercial Counselor of the Spanish Embassy, and Tanguy De Lestré, member of the Cabinet of Secretary of State for digitalization of the Brussels Capital Region, closed the seminar by thanking the organization and the participants for assisting the event and by encouraging the Belgian and Spanish companies and entities to establish lines of cooperation in the future in this sector. David Martínez Hornillos encouraged the local companies to support each other by sharing their knowledge and by making use of Spain´s practical experience.

 

 

Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of ZABALA Innovation Consulting in Brussels

Last 12th of April, ZABALA Innovation Consulting celebrated the 30th anniversary of the company in Brussels with an event that included the participation of the Director-General for Energy of the European Commission, Dominique Ristori, as well as the collaboration of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg.

During the event, the Chamber recognized José María Zabala, Founder and CEO of ZABALA Innovation Consulting, for his entrepreneurial spirit and the promotion of innovation in Europe.

About hundred institutional representatives (offices of the Autonomous Communities in Brussels, representatives of the European Commission) as well as representatives from companies with headquarters at the Belgian capital and representatives from European business associations, attended the event.

In recognition of him, the Chamber emphasized the personal and professional worth of José María Zabala, who founded ZABALA Innovation Consulting in 1986. The company started with two employed persons and employs more than 200 professionals distributed among 9 offices nowadays: Pamplona, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Vigo as well as Brussels, London and Paris.

Dominique Ristori declared that “Europe needs creators like José María Zabala who are capable of working with actors from all over Europe. This encourages unity and reunites them for common projects”. Furthermore, he pointed out that innovation and the Energy Union are strategic elements for the future of Europe. In this regard, he emphasized the contribution of ZABALA in the promotion of innovation as a strategic element in companies.

During his speech, José María Zabala went over the track of ZABALA and recalled the fact that Brussels is a place of particular importance for the company since Europe has been present in the DNA of the organization since the beginning. Its specialization in European projects allowed the company to open offices in Brussels in 2003. Since then, its activity in this area has not stopped growing.

The opening of the offices in Brussels was crucial for the international dimension of the company. In particular for the European area, this meant they could reach a return for their clients of 500 million euro of the Seventh Framework Program or they could obtain more than 120 million euro in the second year of application of the Horizon 2020 Program, by leading about 300 projects.

In order to reach these milestones and to manage a portfolio that reaches 1500 clients, ZABALA nowadays consists of a team with an expertise focusing on four large areas: Life Sciences (health, biotechnology, chemistry and agribusiness), Social Challenges (Smart Cities, energy, transportation, environment and socioeconomic issues), Technology (ICT, open data, security, equipment and internet), and the industrial area (Production technologies, industry, processes and products).

 

Participation of the Chamber in the International Network Lunch L’Espagne, organized by CCI

The event counted on the collaboration of the Belgian and Luxembourgian Chamber Commerce in Spain and took place at the headquarters of the CCI Brabant Wallon in the city of Nivelles, on February, 4th.

As an initiative from Jacques Glorieux, Vice-President of the Belgian Chambers of Commerce abroad and member of the Board of Directors of the bilateral chamber in Spain, this Network Lunch was developed and was attended by an important number of entrepreneurs and Brussels and Walloon consultants.

During the conference, the Spanish example was highlighted as a EU member-state which faced the crisis, that started in 2008, with the best results.

Xavier Ibarrondo, a Spanish lawyer and the CCI Brabant Wallon Vice-president, led the debate. In this debate, the Economic and Commercial Counselor of the Spanish Embassy in Belgium and Luxembourg, David Martínez Hornillos and our President, Juan Rodríguez-Villa, participated among other persons.

David Martínez Hornillos presented some comparative figures of the evolution of the different macroeconomic indexes during the crisis years. Figures that principally made reference to the Belgian, French, German and Spanish economies. Likewise, the statistics on bilateral commerce were presented.

Juan Rodríguez-Villa made a historical reference of the Chamber he leads, going over the different periods established, starting with the Spanish accession to the EEC, the adoption of the Single European Act and the Euro integration.

Jacques Glorieux and Juan Rodríguez-Villa agreed on the need of collaboration of the Chambers in order to achieve their main goals.

Nieves Villar, President of the Belgian and Luxembourgian Chamber of Commerce in Spain, explained the audience the advantages of being partner of the Chamber, for the business establishment and development in Spain.

María Catalán, Secretary General of our Chamber, established contacts with the attendees.

The event was organised by the person responsible for the CCI Brabant Wallon International Relations, Dominique Verleye, and we congratulate her for the excellent result.