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Climate ambitions of Flanders and the European Green Deal

On 21 June, in an interview on Flemish news television VRT, First Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, called on Flanders to be more ambitious in the fight against climate neutrality. However, he also said, he was optimistic that Flanders would do its part being a wealthy region, which already has industrial pioneers on board for the European objectives. But what exactly are the Flemish climate objectives, and how are they aligned with the EU plans?

Greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 35%

The Flemish climate policy plan sets out the guidelines for the climate policy for the period 2021-2030. In line with the objective imposed by the EU for Belgium, the plan puts forward the objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Flanders by 35% by 2030 compared to 2005. However, the EU is setting this goal at a reduction level of 50-55% by 2030. The required effort is identified per sector and, where necessary, the greenhouse gas reduction target is converted into sub-targets. In addition, the plan also contains the main measures required to achieve this objective and puts Flanders on the path towards a low-carbon future.

Energy efficiency

Another priority for Flanders is to increase energy efficiency for all sectors. The three largest energy consumption sectors in Flanders are industry, residential and transport sectors. In addition to improving energy efficiency, simultaneous efforts must be made to achieve the strong development of renewable energy. Energy services and technologies will be digitally controlled and intelligently linked. However, this is a huge challenge for Flanders. In the period 2005-2018, emissions decreased by only 5%. The Flemish Government, therefore, intends to focus more on increasing innovation, the persistence of circular economy, parallel federal policies and additional EU instruments (legislative and financial).

Transforming buildings will also play an important role in increasing the energy efficiency in densely populated Flanders. The climate policy plan encourages the renovation of residential buildings, rebuilding after demolition and making the heating installation more sustainable. This is in line with the EU’s ‘Renovation Wave’ initiative, part of the European Green Deal, with the goal to double the annual renovation rate of the existing building stock. The European Commission will publish communication on this in September 2020.

How can Dr2 Consultants advise you

The EU’s ambition is to lead the way towards a more sustainable future. Contrary to the fear that the COVID-19 pandemic would jeopardize the green agenda for the coming years, the Commission has shown its commitment to accelerate the green transition during the recovery phase. This green transition will pose challenges but will also provide opportunities to businesses, like front runners who can introduce their new and innovative approaches in Flanders. With the Dr2 Consultants’ European Green Deal Impact Scan, we will provide you with a comprehensive analysis of how the European Green Deal will affect your business, identifying the opportunities and challenges and highlighting moments to positively influence the policies and legislation. In addition, we are able to provide you with high-end intelligence on the developments in Flanders that allows for a comprehensive overview of relevant files for your business.

We are looking for a Public Affairs Consultant

Expiration date: 25 May 2020

Country/City: Belgium, Brussels

Experience: 5-7 years (in Brussels)

Contact name: Viktoria Vajnai

Contact e-mail address: V.Vajnai@Dr2consultants.eu

 

Job Description

Operate in the heart of Brussels, contribute to satisfied clients and celebrate successes with colleagues. This is what your job at Dr2 consultants looks like. Our firm grows in a flourishing way and this is why we like to hire talented people.

Do you have a proven track record in the European bubble? Are you able to support our clients in implementing their Public Affairs Strategy? Then we invite you to apply for this Public Affairs Consultant vacancy.

What you will do

  • Develop, manage and deliver creative Public Affairs and lobbying strategies to achieve our clients’ objectives;
  • Advise clients on policy developments across our three focus areas: Digital, Transport and Sustainability;
  • Manage Public Affairs programmes and liaise with relevant stakeholders across the EU institutions;
  • Build and lead clients’ influence in the European Institutions, across governments and other relevant stakeholders;
  • Expand the client portfolio of Dr2 Consultants;
  • Drive business solutions for our clients that will have tangible and quantitative results.

How you can contribute

  • A proven track record of 5-7 years of experience in EU Public Affairs in Brussels;
  • The ability to manage clients independently and cope with multiple priorities;
  • University level education (Master’s degree), preferably in an area related to European studies, economics or law;
  • Previous consultancy experience is an asset;
  • Network in the European sphere;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills;
  • Excellent analytical skills;
  • Business acumen;
  • Proficiency in English. Knowledge of other European language(s) – particularly Dutch and French – would be a strong asset;
  • Strong computer skills (in particular Microsoft Office, social media).

What we offer

  • A challenging and growing environment where personal development and growth are encouraged;
  • A dynamic and international team of Public Affairs professionals;
  • An attractive and competitive salary

Terms and conditions

To apply for this position, please send your CV and cover letter to Ms. Viktoria Vajnai (v.vajnai@dr2consultants.eu). Applications should be sent not later than 25 May 2020 with ‘Application Public Affairs Consultant’ in the subject line of the email.

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

About Dr2 Consultants

Dr2 Consultants is a dynamic Brussels-based consultancy firm. We provide companies, organizations and NGOs with guidance on EU and Belgian affairs in the digital, transport and sustainability policy domains. To discover more about us, please visit our website (www.dr2consultants.eu).

 

Dr2 Consultants among top EU Public Affairs Consultancies in Brussels

Dr2 Consultants has been shortlisted among the top 60 EU Public Affairs Consultancies in the range of mid-to-large consultancies, published by Best in Brussels. With key sectoral expertise in digital & tech, transport and sustainability sectors, Dr2 Consultants has grown into a well-established consultancy firm and has experienced tremendous growth over the past years.

In 2019, Dr2 Consultants further expanded its client portfolio and grew its team of Public Affairs professionals who provide continuous guidance, support and strategic advice to our clients at both EU and Belgian level.

Furthermore, Dr2 Consultants opened two new offices, in New York City and in Copenhagen which, together with offices in Brussels, The Hague and Shanghai, form part of a network covering three continents and five countries.

In addition, Dr2 Consultants recently launched brand-new services:

  • the European Green Deal Impact Scan that helps companies identify risks and opportunities of new and existing legislation linked to the Commission’s European Green Deal initiatives.
  • the Brexit Office which offers support to organizations from local startups to European associations and corporations planning to settle in Belgium following Brexit.
  • the Dr2 Academy which provides tailor-made coaching for Public Affairs professionals and organizations about the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in the field of EU Public Affairs.

Read our full profile here and get in touch with us for more information on how we can support your business.

 

We are looking for a Digital Public Affairs Trainee

Company profile

Dr2 Consultants is a dynamic Brussels-based consultancy firm that provides companies, organizations and NGOs with guidance on EU and Belgian affairs (www.dr2consultants.eu) in the digital, transport and sustainability policy domains. We are looking for a highly-motivated trainee to assist the Ecommerce Europe team.

Ecommerce Europe is the sole voice of the European Digital Commerce sector. As a result of joining forces with EMOTA, Ecommerce Europe now represents, via its 23 national associations, more than 100,000 companies selling goods and services online to consumers in Europe. Ecommerce Europe acts at European level to help legislators create a better framework for online merchants, so that their sales can grow further.

Job description

  • Preparing background notes, briefings, reports, and articles;
  • Assisting consultants in conducting research, analysis and monitoring activities for Ecommerce Europe;
  • Assist consultants in the development and execution of Public Affairs and communication strategies;
  • Assisting consultants in their interest representation on behalf of Ecommerce Europe;
  • Assist and learn to influence political decision-making through the development and execution of Public Affairs strategies;
  • Assisting the Office Manager with day-to-day administrative duties.

Background and qualifications

  • Graduated from a Master’s degree in a relevant field such as European studies, Political Science, Communication or other relevant education;
  • Previous internship experience within the European Institutions and/or Public Affairs is an asset;
  • Language skills: Excellent spoken and written English (Native-speaker level or equivalent). Knowledge of other languages would be an asset;
  • Strong PC skills (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, etc.);
  • Proactive and dynamic person with excellent communication and personal skills;
  • Flexible work attitude, hands-on mentality, able to work on multiple tasks simultaneously;
  • Sound interest in digital and circular economy related policies at European level.

Terms and conditions

Procedure

To apply please send your CV and cover letter explaining why you would be the right candidate for this position to Ms. Maike Jansen at m.jansen@dr2consultants.eu. Applications should be sent as soon as possible and no later than 26 February COB with ‘Digital Public Affairs Trainee Ecommerce Europe’ as subject line. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

Bold sustainability ambitions in the European Union

Already in July, Ursula von der Leyen made clear that the new European Commission has bold ambitions to tackle climate change: The European Union must become an example of how to live sustainably. In this regard, energy efficiency and circular economy are central to the European way of life.

Frans Timmermans and the European Green Deal

The European Green Deal will be the guide for this ambitious transition, targeting among other things, an emission reduction of 50% to 55% by 2030. This target is about 10-15% higher than the current 2030 climate and energy framework. The Commissioner in charge of the Green Deal will be the Dutchman, Frans Timmermans, who also holds the position of first Executive Vice-President of the next European Commission. In his hearing in the European Parliament on 8 October, he urged the European Parliament to be ambitious and lead by example in the world. To make a real difference with regards to global warming, the EU needs to focus on talks with its global partners, according to Timmermans. He feels like he has got a strong mandate, since according to statistics, 9 out of 10 European citizens want the EU to act decisively on climate change.

Concretely, Timmermans will propose a draft Climate Law within the first 100 days of his mandate. This law will put into legislation the EU’s climate ambitions, but most importantly determine the in between steps to be taken to reach these goals. Timmermans is strongly considering using infringement procedures against Member States not complying with the EU’s upcoming climate laws and its ambitions. Furthermore, the Climate Pact will engage citizens with the EU’s climate policy which would make legislation seem less ‘top-down’.

Virginijus Sinkevičius and the European Circular Economy

Three years after its adoption, the Circular Economy Action Plan can be considered fully completed. Its 54 actions have now been delivered or are being implemented. Together with Timmermans, Lithuanian Virginijus Sinkevičius will however increase the ambitions in the field of the circular economy. Sinkevičius stated during his hearing in the European Parliament on 3 October that if the EU ensured the complete circular use of just four materials (steel, aluminum, cement and plastic) – which goes further than the existing Circular Economy Action Plan – EU’s industrial emissions would be cut in half.

Sinkevičius believes that a new action plan can involve three major areas:

  • First, by examining the ways in which the EU produces and consumes. He mentioned particular further action on eco-design and more focus on reuse and repair. This strand could also integrate circularity in other sectors such as textiles, construction, food and ICT.
  • Second, by helping consumers make informed choices.
  • Third, by moving beyond recycling. Waste should not only be minimized, but prevented completely in areas such as textiles and construction.

Environment Council

Not only the European Commission wants to increase the European ambitions regarding climate change and sustainability, but also the Council realizes their importance. On 4 October, Environment Ministers held a debate on the EU’s strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral economy and adopted conclusions on climate change, which set out the EU’s position for the UN climate change meetings (COP25) in Chile in December 2019. The Council called for action to promote circularity systemically across the value chain, including from the consumer perspective, in key sectors including textiles, transport, food as well as construction and demolition. The Council also stressed the need for more measures on batteries and plastics.

 

 

 

 

Brexit: What after the prorogation?

On 16 September, Boris Johnson and Jean-Claude Juncker met for the first time in person since Johnson became Prime Minister. Both parties saw the meeting as an opportunity to take stock of the negotiations, but the Commission’s statement afterwards concluded that no concrete proposals emerged from the discussion. On the same day, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, called Boris Johnson’s approach to Brexit a nightmare at a press conference (which Johnson left early due to anti-Brexit protestors ruining it). Bettel also said the British government had not made any serious proposals for a new deal. Therefore Jean-Claude Juncker also repeated on 18 September, during the European parliament plenary session in Strasbourg, that a no-deal scenario is still very plausible.

However, a deal (or an extension of Article 50) seems necessary as the British government has been accused of minimalizing the possible disruption at ports in a no-deal scenario. Documents published last week about Operation Yellowhammer, the official plan to handle a no-deal scenario, suggested that there would be a low risk for ports outside Kent, a port that has a lot of EU traffic. But new documents show that this is only because tens of thousands of vehicles would be rejected because they would be non-compliant, meaning that the drivers would not have the correct permits or the correct papers filled in, and would be turned away. Also, the facilitation of trade between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic still needs some time. Johnson is setting out plans for an all-Ireland economic relationship which must replace the Irish backstop. With this plan, Northern Ireland would effectively become a special economic zone inside both the UK and the EU. There would still be a border and everything that is not covered by the all-island regime would be subject to checks.

But, as Juncker stated, there is also a very big chance that the UK will leave the European Union without a deal. Two weeks ago, UK MPs passed a law which requires Boris Johnson to seek an extension of Article 50 if Johnson fails to secure a Brexit deal with the EU by 19 October (dubbed the Benn Act). There is no guarantee that Johnson will do that. However, another concern now is that even if Johnson agrees with the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) with the EU and the deal successfully passes through Parliament, there could not be sufficient time to pass through Parliament a separate act implementing the WA (a complex piece of legislation) – or it could be blocked by MPs – before 31 October. Now, once the WA is agreed, the Benn Act does not come into force because it does not take into account the separate act to implement the WA, so the result is a no-deal Brexit. Therefore, it is in the interest of Labour and Tory rebel MPs not to agree to the WA before the extension has been secured. An extension should be obligatory, whether there is a deal or not.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest court, is currently hearing the case over Johnson’s decision to temporarily shut down the UK Parliament. Scotland’s highest court ruled last week that the suspension was indeed unlawful, but the High Court in England had ruled earlier the opposite way. Therefore, the UK Supreme Court is now discussing if this case is justiciable and, if so, whether the prorogation was lawful. After two days of hearing arguments on both sides, also former Tory prime minister John Major spoke on the final day in court to doubt Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament. It is not yet known when the judges will deliver their verdict, but it is expected for next week.

In addition, on 18 September, a clear majority of the Members of the European Parliament voted for a resolution supporting the UK being given a Brexit deadline extension should it request one. The vote itself is largely symbolic because the European Parliament wants to show that it cannot be ignored. However, the EP will reject a deal that does not include a backstop. This is significant because the EP will need to vote through the final Brexit deal.

New offices in NYC and Copenhagen

DR2 Consultants opens offices in Copenhagen and New York, in addition to the existing offices in The Hague, Brussels and Shanghai. With this, DR2 Consultants expands its worldwide network even further.

During the late summer drinks in The Hague, DR2 Consultants presented its annual trend report, which this year is dedicated to global public affairs. Founder and senior partner Frans van Drimmelen indicated in his presentation that he sees a clear increase in the importance of global public affairs, in which policy areas and companies extend across borders.

DR2 Consultants Copenhagen

Your key to the Nordics
From Copenhagen DR2 Consultants focuses on public affairs and corporate communications in the Nordic region and the Baltic States. The new office is managed by Jeroen Lammers. He has extensive experience, including in Denmark, the EU, the OECD, and in the Netherlands, in assisting companies and organizations with substantive analyses and impact strategies.

DR2 Consultants New York

Your key to the world
From New York, DR2 Consultants focuses on global politics and developments, with a special focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The new office will develop public affairs strategies towards international organisations, including the UN and the IMF. DR2 Consultants New York is led by Eelco Keij, who has long-standing experience at the United Nations in international politics, lobbying and fundraising.

Learn why global Public Affairs is on the rise here.

Two trainees wanted

Company profile 

Dr2 Consultants is a dynamic Brussels-based consultancy firm that provides companies, organizations and NGOs with guidance on EU and Belgian affairs (www.dr2consultants.eu) in the digital, transport and circular economy policy domains. We are looking for two highly-motivated trainees to assist our team.   

Job description 

  • Preparing background notes, briefings, reports, and articles; 
  • Assisting consultants in conducting research, analysis and monitoring activities for their clients; 
  • Assist consultants in the development and execution of Public Affairs and communication strategies; 
  • Assisting consultants in their interest representation on behalf of their clients; 
  • Assist and learn to influence political decision-making through the development and execution of public affairs strategies; 
  • Assisting the Office Manager with day-to-day administrative duties. 

Background and qualifications 

  • Graduated from a Master’s degree in a relevant field such as European studies, Political Science, Communication or other relevant education 
  • Previouinternship experience within the European Institutions and/or Public Affairs is an asset; 
  • Language skills: Excellent spoken and written English (Native-speaker level or equivalent). Knowledge of French or Dutch as well as any other European language(s) would be an asset; 
  • Strong PC skills (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, etc.); 
  • Proactive and dynamic person with excellent communication and personal skills; 
  • Flexible work attitude, hands-on mentality, able to work on multiple tasks simultaneously; 
  • Sound interest in digital, transport and circular economy related policies at European (and Belgian) level. 

Terms and conditions 

Procedure 

To apply, please send your CV and cover letter explaining why you would be the right candidate for this position to: w.scheelen@dr2consultants.euApplications should be sent as soon as possible and no later than 12 July COB with ‘Application Public Affairs Trainee’ in the subject line. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.  

What’s next for payments in the EU?

The past mandate has heavily contributed to shaping the future of the payment landscape in the EU. Among public affairs professionals involved in payments for more than 5 years, the fact that payments used to be a very niche topic which wasn’t a very “sexy” conference topic has become a recurring joke. Regulation around payments or impacting payments is now in the center of key debates, including, for example, the international role of the EU and the autonomy of the EU. Regulatory workstreams are converging in an attempt to develop innovative, cost-effective and consumer-centric solutions in the EU.

In 2015, the EU adopted a new directive on payment services (PSD2) to adapt rules to the new realities of the payment landscape, promote competition and the development of innovative payment solutions as well as to reinforce consumer protection (against fraud, for instance). PSD2 has been described as the advent of Open banking and innovation. ‘Open banking’ is used to describe the shift from a closed model to one in which data is shared between different members of the banking ecosystem – with consent from the customer – to encourage collaboration between established banks and fintech companies.

While the expected “revolution” and disruption of traditional models is slower than expected, there are high expectations for the development of new, innovative, consumer-centric and affordable solutions. Discussions on the technical application of PSD2, for instance, around what Application Programming Interfaces (API), used to allow access to the payment account, should look like are still ongoing in certain European groups and are likely to continue in the coming months.

More recent communications for the European Commission opened the door for further regulatory developments when it comes to innovation in the financial sector, including the FinTech action plan and the workstream on Artificial Intelligence. There is no doubt about the strategic role of data and future regulatory developments regarding access to data on the payment landscape in the coming years.

Costs of payment have also been high on the previous Commission’s agenda and will continue to be in the coming years. In 2015, the EU also adopted a Regulation on Interchange Fees which aims at – together with PSD2 – limiting transaction fees based on consumer debit and credit cards and banning retailers from imposing surcharges on customers for the use of these types of cards. The European Commission is now looking into the effect of this Regulation and is expected to release an implementation report in 2020, possibly accompanied by amendments.

In addition to the discussion on Interchange fees, the EU adopted new rules to make cross-border euro transfer cheaper and currency conversion in the EU fairer.

At the intersection of questions of innovation, evolution of consumer expectations and costs is the conversation about instant payments, which will likely be an important focus for the next European Commission. The European Commission has expressed its wish to further promote the development of European solutions, relying on tools such as SEPA Instant Credit transfer scheme or the TARGET instant payment settlement (TIPS) service.

The EU is well aware of the fact that global – non-EU – providers are tapping into the potential created by favorable infrastructure and regulatory framework, and this trend is of course reinforced by the technological superiority of other regions, for instance on AI. Further actions are therefore expected on these fronts in the coming years.