John Rutherford, the Global Head of Public Affairs at BBVA, chairs the Chamber of Commerce's new European Affairs Committee, which has been set up to make the European Union's recovery plans accessible to Spanish companies. The Committee, which comprises more than 25 major companies and institutions, was unveiled in the presence of Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
"We are living a historic moment, in which the European response has been much faster than during the 2008 crisis. This has led to a forward leap in the process of European integration," said Borrell, who also stated that the recovery from the crisis caused by the pandemic may be a historic opportunity for Spanish companies.
The Recovery Plan for Europe or 'Next Generation EU' aims to revive the economies of the Member States to overcome the crisis in the short term and enhance the region's growth potential in the medium and long term. In Spain, this plan will mean the receipt of funds equivalent to 6% of GDP. Hence the Chambers of Commerce must play an active role, said Borrell.
Against this backdrop, the European Affairs Committee has been set up to support Spanish companies in their recovery. "We will work to ensure that the Committee contributes to the Chamber's consultation remit so that it translates into effective support for our country's business community," said John Rutherford. "The measures adopted by the European Union in the economic domain to address the pandemic are unprecedented and involve the entire financial architecture of the Union."
John Rutherford, the Global Head of Public Affairs at BBVA.
The Committee will focus on four areas:
- A resilient and competitive Europe: investment in science and innovation, a new industrial strategy and the diversification of European production can be critical elements in achieving sustainable job growth and greater resilience for the European Union. The focus will be on small and medium-sized enterprises, the backbone of the European economy.
- A green Europe: the European Green Deal, published in 2019, laid the groundwork for the EU to become climate neutral by 2050. The intermediate goal is to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. The ecological transition is one of the pillars of the European Recovery and Resilience Mechanism. In the words of John Rutherford, these plans, "include a range of reforms and investments where companies that are committed to the transition play a key role."
- A digital Europe: alongside the ecological transition, the digital transition will shape the EU of the future. The two go hand in hand, as digital technologies will be key to completing the transition to a climate-neutral, circular and resilient economy.
- A stronger Europe in the world: in the current context of growing protectionism and a multilateral system under threat, it is crucial for the European Union to take up a leading position, with a more active role and a stronger voice.
So "the challenge is to make post-pandemic Europe greener, more digital, more resilient and stronger on the global stage," said John Rutherford. "We will work to ensure that the Committee contributes to the Spanish Chamber's consultation remit so that it translates into effective support for our country's business community."