Online Breakfast-Debate with Alejandro Cainzos, Member of Cabinet of Margrethe Verstager, Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age

On Tuesday October 6th, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a new session of its online Breakfast-Debate in the framework of its Business Circle platform. This event featured the participation of Alejandro Cainzos, Member of Cabinet of Margrethe Vestager, European Commission’s Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the digital age and focused on “EU Technological challenges for the next 5 years”.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice-President of the Chamber and moderator of the event, welcomed and thanked the speaker as well as all the attendees.

Following this, David Luengo, director of the Brussels office of Indra, partner and sponsor of the event, took the floor and thanked the guest speaker for his participation in the Breakfast-Debate. Luengo made a brief presentation of the speaker along with a general description of the agenda for the digitisation that is managed from the Office of the Vice President Vestager. He also wanted to highlight Indra’s commitment with new international markets in this new wave of digital innovation.

Alejandro Caínzos began by presenting the digital agenda planned by the Commission for the current legislature, which aims to develop a common technology strategy based on the European model of digital transformation in which European citizens and civil society are expected to participate. Even if the European Union was late for the first wave of digital innovation based in the extraction of personal data, the Commission is working to make the next ten years the European digital decade based on industrial data through the appropriate regulatory framework together with productive investments that encourage the digitalisation of our economies and societies. For this strategy, it will be essential to have clear milestones on a number of topics such as connectivity, 5G, modernisation of public services, use of data to help SMEs and adaptation of the education system to digitisation. In all these areas, cyber security will be crucial. In the particular context of economic recovery in which we find ourselves, the speaker underlined the importance of the European digital development as 20% of all aid linked to the EU recovery fund (Next generation EU) will be used for the digitisation and modernisation of our economies. Finally, Cainzos highlighted the particular case of Spain, which will be one of the economies that will benefit from a greater volume of investment, given the impact of the pandemic. These funds will be the ideal opportunity to make decisive progress in digitisation by investing in the right technologies in this new wave of digital innovation.

During the round of questions, the participants were able to express their doubts and comments on various issues of interest such as the non-discrimination of people with disabilities in the use of new technologies, the portability and transfer of individual data, the role of professional training, the role of standardisation agencies or the establishment of horizontal rules in the regulation of state aid.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank Alejandro Caínzos, our partner company Indra for sponsoring this breakfast debate and all those present for their attendance.

 

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Virtual Breakfast-Debate with María Teresa Fábregas, Director Recovery and Resilience Task Force at the European Commission

On Thursday 1st October, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg organised a new virtual breakfast debate in the framework of its “Business Circle” platform. The breakfast focused on “Recovery plans: sustainable growth” and María Teresa Fábregas, Director Recovery and Resilience Task Force at the European Commission was the guest speaker.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vicepresident of the Chamber,  welcomed and thanked the speakers as well as all the attendees.

Afterwards, on behalf of the member company and sponsor of the event, Iberdrola, its Director of European Public Affairs, Eva Chamizo, took the floor and thanked the spekaer and the entire team of the European Commission’s Working Group for Recovery and Resilience, for their great work in contributing from the European institutions to economic recovery. Chamizo stressed the need to commit to a green and sustainable recovery linked to the objectives of the Green Deal and allows private investment in clean energy. She also highlighted Iberdrola’s long career in prioritising investment in green energy, which made Iberdrola stand out among the leading companies in the sector.

María Teresa Fábregas began by outlining the key points of the future Recovery and Resilience Mechanism, which forms part of the Recovery Plan for Europe proposed by the European Commission. The intention of this mechanism is to contribute to the repair of the economic and social damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic without forgetting the great strategic challenges facing Europe.

This plan is aimed first and firstly at the ecological transition of the European Union towards a climate-neutral Europe by 2050 in line with the Green Deal. The speaker also highlighted as the second key of the economic recovery, the digital transition to adapt our economies and societies to new technologies. Fábregas went on explaining that it will be up to the Member States to present their national recovery plans to the European Commission from 15 October, which will ensure that they are properly implemented through the auditing and control mechanisms that are being applied to all European funds. The Director of the Working Group for Recovery and Resilience explained that the management of the mechanism’s funds will have to be done in accordance with the constitutional order of each country and in accordance with the distribution of competences in the case of decentralised Member States. However, national governments will have a certain margin to determine how they will manage them, either through transfers to sub-national entities (federated states, autonomous communities, etc.) or through central agencies.

During the round of questions, the participants were able to express their doubts and comments on many areas of interest. Thus, topics such as eligibility criteria and the mechanism for allocating funds for recovery, the social economy or more specific measures for the cultural and audio-visual sector were discussed.

From the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank María Teresa Fábregas, our member company Iberdrola for sponsoring this event and all attendees for joining this event.

 

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12/9-10 Webinar “WordPress: The story of your first website”

On December 9th and 10th from 9:00 am to 12:00 am, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg will organize a webinar on “Wordpress: The story of your first website”, held by Manuel Pueyo, Founder and Director of BigKids.

During the webinar, participants will develop their digital skills and will obtain the freedom to create, design, manage and develop their web presence exactly the way they want.

Attendees will learn the basic concepts behind web development, the first steps with WordPress, style and customization of the elements and the main content and multimedia implementation.

After this course participants can start growing web hosting and design with confidence and self-sufficiency. This will open up a whole new world of connection opportunities.

This webinar will be divided in two days, with a duration of 3 hours each.

Registration is open to members and non-members of the Chamber.  If you are interested, don’t hesitate to sign up through this reply form.

You can check the full program of the course here.

The webinar will be held in English.

Virtual breakfast-debate with MEPs Pilar del Castillo and Lina Gálvez: Priorities of the Committee on Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE)

On September 22nd, the Spanish Official Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg hosted a new event within the cycle “Breakfasts with the European Parliament”, a platform for meetings between Spanish companies and the European Parliament, on the “Priorities of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) for the new term”. The event was attended by MEPs Pilar del Castillo (PP) and Lina Gálvez (PSOE), who belong to the Commission.

Pablo López Álvarez, Vice President of the Chamber
and moderator of the event, welcomed and thanked the speakers for their participation and made a brief presentation.

Pilar del Castillo began by explaining how the energy sector is facing a wave of innovations related to the application of green energies and the decarbonization of the economy. The Commission has launched several communications on this subject, but has not yet published any legislation. The MEP also stressed the importance of innovation and research, as they are crucial for the whole economy and each of its sectors.

Del Castillo also emphasized the need for the legislative proposal made by the Commission to take into
account the entire value chain of the different industrial sectors. Finally, the speaker addressed the issue of digitization, highlighting that it was already an important issue before the coronavirus crisis, but now more than ever it is an indispensable element since it was the new technologies that sustained the economy and society during the toughest months of the crisis and continue to do so today. These new technologies also have to be applied as added value to the European Union in order to optimize their potential. The new technologies imply very important scales of investment, but they are even more necessary for the evolution of the SMEs.

As a member of the Artificial Intelligence Commission, the MEP also referred to AI as a central element that will revolutionize daily life and the economy, allowing for the optimization of investments and improving the competitiveness of companies. Del Castillo also referred to the importance of data in this process of digitalization, despite the fact that in Europe they are very compartmentalized. Therefore, a common space for European Union data would be necessary, which would be very useful to face, for example, health crises such as the one we are experiencing. All this without forgetting the crucial importance of privacy in this area.

Lina Gálvez took the floor talking, firstly, about the modification of the priorities of the ITRE committee as a result of the crisis of the COVID as well as the energy and digital transition (twin transition), mentioning the decrease in commitment to research and renewal by the EU in the latest budget negotiations, which she considers a big mistake. The MEP also explained how in Europe there has never been a single industrial strategy, although it is clear that there should be as a result of this crisis. Gálvez also stressed the importance of green energy, with the horizon of climate neutrality for 2050 to which not all member countries are at the same point. He also referred to how climate and energy legislation have a central weight in the regulatory agenda of the coming years: hydrogen, electric batteries and the long-term commitment to green energy are some of the items on the agenda.

Gálvez spoke of the power of the EU’s commitment to data strategy to benefit the industrial sector, along with the importance of the spirit of the European Union in the processing of this data, creating a common data strategy for all member countries to use for their benefit. Finally, the MEP stressed the importance of implementing a system so that citizens have rights and knowledge about the use of their personal data.

During the question time, the participants were able to ask several questions on various topics. Thus, topics such as the cuts in EU budgets and their impact on industry, the European Renovation Council, the preparation of the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience, the hopes and priorities of the new Commission on Artificial Intelligence, and finally on the ITRE Commission and its proposals to address the crisis were discussed.

From the Spanish Official Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg we would like to thank Lina Gálvez, Pilar del Castillo, and to all attendees for joining this event.

New Covid-19 measures by the National Security Council

Masks, restaurants, travelling… Belgium steps up the fight against the virus.

The fight against the coronavirus is far from over. The National Security Council (NSC) published new measures.

The evolution of the health situation required new and stricter actions, NSC members said on Thursday.

Phase 5 postponed

Although a certain relaxation of the measures was planned for 1st August, this will not finally happen. In view of the concerning development of the epidemic, the National Security Council has postponed phase 5 of the de-escalation. As a result, the maximum number of people for celebrations and events with indoor and outdoor audience will remain the same.

As announced at the end of June, the maximum number of people in celebration rooms is therefore 50, while events are limited to 200 participants indoors and 400 outdoors.

This deferral is also bad news for event organisers, who will not be able to resume their activities on 1st August. If the epidemiological situation allows it, these activities are expected to resume on 1st September.

Masks 

The use of the mask is already mandatory in places such as cinemas or public transport, and in others it will also start to be mandatory from Saturday.

Specifically, the use of the mask will be required in markets, street markets, fairs, public buildings and commercial streets.

More generally, the mask will have to be worn in all highly-transited areas, private or public, which will be determined by the municipal authorities. It is also strongly recommended in other cases, especially in situations where safety distance cannot be ensured.

Horeca

In restaurants and cafes, the use of masks will also increase, as this protection will become mandatory everywhere except at the table.

Another new feature will be that customers will be required to leave a telephone number or e-mail address to follow up of possible contaminations. The data collected will have to be destroyed after 14 days and cannot be used for any other purpose than fighting the epidemic, said Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès. A standard form allowing this information to be collected will be available from Saturday on the FPS Economie website.

In view of the excesses observed in certain establishments (non-compliance with the safety distance, illegal parties, etc.), controls will also be reinforced.

Night shops

The night shops will have to close at 10 p.m. The idea of this measure is to fight the temptation of some customers to visit these shops after the restaurants and bars close.

Increasing the role of mayors

At the local level, mayors will now have “the necessary margin of manoeuvre” to take stronger action if the situation requires it, stated Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès.

In other words, the introduction of small-scale lockouts is not out of the question. However, local authorities will have to consult the regions and governors before taking additional protective measures.

Each of the regions has a phased programme of action that may be adopted by the mayors depending on the situation in their locality.

Travellers

For travellers, the rules will now be a little more clear. An online form will soon be available on the Foreign Affairs website. Anyone travelling abroad for more than 48 hours will need to fill it in from 1st August.

This “Passenger Location Form” will be valid for everyone, regardless of the means of transport used.

As far as the “orange” zones are concerned, the NSC continues to recommend a period of quarantine and the performance of the test, measures which are compulsory for travellers returning from the “red” zones.

Social bubble

The social bubble of 15, the number of people you can keep in touch with each week, remains the same. However, its maintenance depends on everyone respecting the rules, the Prime Minister warned.

In Flemish nursing homes, visits are still allowed, but physical contact between visitors and residents is now prohibited.

In addition, each citizen must list all persons with whom he or she has had close contact each week.

Golden rules

In addition to these new measures, the Prime Minister has once again insisted that the six golden rules be respected. These rules are not “an advice, but a set of instructions”.

They include washing hands regularly, encouraging outdoor activities, being extremely cautious in the presence of people in risk groups and keeping a safety distance (1.5 metres) when possible.

Although repeated over and over again, these measures have probably been less followed in recent weeks. As a result, the NSC has just stepped up the pace again.

 

SOURCE: L’Echo.be