Cena-coloquio con José Manuel Albares

Minister Albares outlines the priorities of the Spanish Presidency of the EU at an event co-organised by the Chamber

On Monday 20 February, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg and the Spanish Chamber of Commerce organised a dinner-colloquium attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Spain, José Manuel Albares, who outlined the priorities of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which will take place during the second half of 2023.

The event brought together more than 100 business representatives, senior European officials and MEPs, including the heads of the Socialist and Popular Party delegations in the European Parliament, Javier Moreno and Dolors Montserrat.

After the welcome cocktail, the President of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg, Pablo López-Alvarez, thanked the Minister for his attendance. In a brief introduction, López-Alvarez stressed the importance of seizing the opportunity of the upcoming Spanish presidency of the Council of the Union to project the “Marca España” throughout the continent, describing its preparation as “the most meticulous” of the Spanish presidencies to date. He also offered the support of the Chamber of Commerce and business world in what he defined as “a country project”.

Minister Albares then took the floor and began his speech by thanking the Chambers of Commerce for organising the event, in a year in which “many things are changing”. “This week marks one year since Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine“, the Minister recalled, stressing that the Ukrainian conflict is “a challenge” that directly affects Europeans, because “what is at stake are the values of Europe“.

In Ukraine there are two models in dispute: one that looks to the past, to the darkest decades of Europe, of limited sovereignty, of the use of force, of walls and barbed wire; and another that proposes pluralism, diversity, the rule of law, sovereign equality,” Albares said.

The value of unity

As a result of this conflict, the Minister said that Europe is rediscovering the value of working together and of shared solutions: “These are lessons that we already learned during the pandemic, but which are now going to remain anchored in the heart of Europe“.

According to Albares, Spain will approach its presidency with the conviction that “we have to cooperate whenever we can” and that Europe “has to increase its defense capacity” and “reduce its dependence on third parties” in energy matters: “We cannot go back to this situation”.

Following the presentation, the attendees were able to enjoy dinner in a relaxed atmosphere. To conclude, a round of interventions and questions was opened, beginning with the intervention of the President of the European Affairs Commission of Camara de España, John Rutherford, who presented the Minister the document “The Opportunity to Strengthen Europe”, recently published, which includes the business priorities for the Spanish Presidency of the European Union. During the colloquium, the minister provided further information on topics such as current and future relations between the European Union and Latin America and the training crisis in Europe and possible solutions within the framework of the European Year of Skills.

From the Chamber, we would like to thank the Radisson Grand Place Brussels, Pernod Ricard, sponsor of wine and cava, and all the attendees for having contributed to the success of this dinner-colloquium.