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British Chamber

This week we sat down with Chair of Brussels New Generation Joseph Lemaire to gain an insight into what the upcoming plans are for our young professionals network.

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What are you most proud of in your time as Brussels New Generation chair so far?

The work done by the whole Brussels New Generation team. Every member of the core group has a very busy schedule with their daily job but still makes time to put together a great and regular program that attracts new and interesting people to every new event.

 

What does being chair of Brussels New Generation bring you?

I am constantly learning and it makes me go out of my comfort zone in many ways. I get to know young professionals like me and learn from their own experiences. I also have the chance to regularly meet business leaders who can always share professional and personal insights. Finally, part of the role is also learning how to lead a team and it is definitely something I enjoy doing.

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Teams discuss their answers in our pub quiz!

Which Brussels New Generation event are you most looking forward to?

All of them, seriously. One of our main focus is to have a program with a wide variety of events (training, leadership, networking, charity). That way, there is never a routine and every event is interesting to any young professional. But if I had to choose one event, it would be the Brussels New Generation Summer Cocktail (July 5 at Aloft Schuman as of 6PM), perfect to kick off summer and meet new people!

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Digging in at the Brussels Bake Off!

What are Brussels New Generation’s plans for the coming year?

We will keep having fun and organising regular events that are interesting and relevant. That is very important to us. We will also keep working on attracting more new young professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Finally, we will strive to become an even better platform for young professionals to meet and network.

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Young professionals at one of our CEO breakfasts

Why should people come along to a Brussels New Generation event?

First of all, Brussels New Generation events are free and that matters when you’re a young professional. It is also an opportunity to follow professional trainings and meet business leaders in an exclusive setting. Brussels New Generation events allow you to meet new people in Brussels and to learn about many other organisations and companies. Finally, coming to an event is a good way to chat with us and let us know what kind of event you would like us to organise next time.

 

If you would like to learn more about the work by Brussels New Generation click here and to see what events our young professionals network has coming up click here!

The British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels is calling on both Britain and the EU to focus on jobs and the economy in Brexit negotiations.

“We need the best possible agreement between the UK and the EU, that takes into account the highly interconnected nature of our economies. If we’re to avoid unnecessary damage to jobs and businesses across Europe we’ve got to have clarity, certainty, and practicability” said Tom Parker, chair of UK-EU relations for British Chamber.

Given the complexity and time-sensitivity of the negotiations, we believe this will be a two step process and that the two parties should agree as soon as possible to an amicable divorce, with the rights of residents, financial settlement, and the sensitive questions related to Northern Ireland being resolved. They should then agree to a transitional arrangement that provides legal certainty for a clearly defined period during which a satisfactory and comprehensive agreement on the new EU-UK relationship can be reached.

Delivering a seamless business environment between the UK and EU27 will be very complex, particularly given the limited amount of time available. That’s why the British Chamber has established a set of 10 guiding priorities, which we believe must underpin the future agreement. “Ongoing access to the single market, seamless customs arrangements and availability of skilled labour are absolute musts for any future UK-EU partnership” Parker added.

 

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About the British Chamber

The British Chamber is unique: an international network that connects your business with other businesses, a wide spectrum of national and European policymakers, and customers and clients. We can facilitate your relationships with the European policymakers and Institutions that your business needs to reach. We are a platform for developing your business whether just starting up or well established. We are the gateway to a global trade and investment business solution. Our network of business support services and partnerships with the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the Belgian regional investment agencies in Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia, and the European (COBCOE) and global network of UK Chambers of Commerce gives you the direct contact and connections you need to succeed.

 

Contacts

Uzma Lodhi – Head of Communications – uzma@britishchamber.be

This week we sat down with our Chief Executive Glenn Vaughan to learn what makes the British Chamber and him tick, his vision for the chamber and where Aston Villa’s rightful place in football is.

 

What one word describes you best?

Optimistic.

And if I had my full wishlist, Aston Villa would make a rapid return to the top of European football, where they belong.

 

What is the biggest challenge the chamber is facing?

You’d be a bit surprised if I didn’t say Brexit right? And while I don’t have much time for those who tell us to forget all the difficulties and try to find the opportunities, the challenge is what makes life interesting.

Right now our focus is on getting the negotiating parties to prioritise jobs and business rather than seeming to accept the prospect of significant negative impacts on both sides. That’s simply not acceptable.

I think that in the medium term, the UK and EU relationship can play an essential part in the success of Europe. We all need Europe to be an attractive place to create, build and sell.

We need the negotiating parties to get on with making a fair and sensible agreement.

As for challenges, apart from those facing Aston Villa, that’s probably enough to be going on with.

 

What are the most important traits for a successful leader?

Being right. Or more likely, finding someone who could be. And listening to them.

Luckily, the British Chamber is full of people with ideas, talent and commitment. Enabling them to achieve things is the best way to make a difference.

 

What are you most proud of during your time at the chamber?

The British Chamber really is the most European and international of chambers of commerce. It always was – but it’s become even more so in recent years.

Seeing that reflected across the leadership team of the chamber – and throughout our membership – is great.

 

How do you see the chamber changing over the next two years?

We need to make sure we’re in good shape to help our members get their voice heard. Our big strength has always been enabling our members to engage with the key decision makers and influencers and speak for themselves.

Responding to Brexit has illustrated the importance of the chamber having its own voice, and that will be a capacity we’ll build on. Including at the bilateral UK-Belgium level where British investment is so important.

But we’ll also need to be more commercially focused in helping companies enter the Belgian market, and grow their businesses as a launchpad into the rest of Europe. If anything, British companies will need us more than ever, so that really is an opportunity.

 

 

The British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium has not always been around, although it may feel like it! The origin of the British Chamber is in 1898 and has since then carried out work across the years, only taking a break when war has broken out across Europe!

There are not many documents remaining from the beginning of the chamber in Belgium. The first President of the chamber, which documents still exist of, is C. W. Twelves who was president from 1910-1914 as well as the secretarie-general B.G. de M. Taunton 1910-1934. As shown in the 1978 Articles of Association below the British Chamber in Belgium became incorporated on the 27th of April 1910 and used to be the chamber for Belgium and Luxembourg.

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The British Chamber in Belgium was nearly not to be, as World War 2 spread across Europe. The chamber, then based in Antwerp, decided to postpone all chamber activity until after the war just before Belgium was invaded. It was started back up again in 1948 under president W.N. Doley, OBE

As Travelling across the channel was a lot harder and rarer for members of the UK government back then, visits and events were much less frequent but on a larger scale. One of the largest events we still have the event plan of is the 1960 Golden Jubilee Banquet held 11th February 1960 in Brussels. With Belgian, Luxembourg, UK and Commenwealth officials in attendence it was a grand event. As shown below guests were dressed to impress at the rare visits of foreign government officials

 

The now very polished chamber annual report1980 annual reports and directories were not always this way. Back in the 1980s the chamber would release a monthly Business Journal you can see on the right which would include what important speaches had been given at the chamber and any recent chamber functions that had taken place.

Members too also had the chance to take out a page to promote themselves, although the adverts aren’t what you’d see today! (see below)

 

1980 advert

Overall, the chamber has grown over all of it’s 119 years and been through a lot of changes, from being joint with Luxembourg and being based in Antwerp to what you use today in Brussels. Although events are not all as glamerous as the 1960 Golden Jubilee Banquet, we now host many more events every year all of a high standard and covering a lot more topics than can be in one gathering a year!

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 This Friday is the International day of safety and health at work. Your health at work is vital as it effects all aspects of your life. We look at stress and burnout in the workplace with the Community Help Service which is a non-profit organisation helping to solve a range of difficulties encountered by the people who turn to it in times of stress through therapeutic methods. You can see more of their work on their website here.

Mental Health in the Workplace

The World Health Organization defines positive mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. Employees with good mental health will perform better in their work.”

Work is excellent for both our mental and physical health. Research has consistently shown that good quality work can boost and protect health.

Features of working life that are known to promote mental health include:

  • Being valued at work
  • Having meaningful work
  • Being able to make decisions on issues that affect you
  • Being adequately trained for the work that you do
  • Having the resources you need to do the work
  • Having a job that is well designed and not overloaded
  • Having work that is well organised in terms of work schedules and time off

A further positive element of the workplace concerns organisational culture, which can be supportive of mental health and wellbeing. Elements of culture such as management and communication style can contribute to positive mental wellbeing. In addition, positive management practices in relation to such areas as participation in decision making and providing timely and supportive feedback can contribute positively to employee wellbeing. Another vital element is the promotion of a positive health and safety culture. Social support in the workplace is also essential – colleagues can help individuals share, cope with and overcome personal problems.

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The Great Brussels Bake Off with Chair of the CHS Board Geoff Brown (right)

Stress is not always a bad thing. Some stress helps one stay focused, motivated and meet new challenges in the workplace. However, when positive work features are missing or inadequate we find that satisfaction declines at work and consequently mental health is adversely affected. When stress exceeds one’s ability to cope, it stops being helpful and starts causing damage to one’s physical and mental health.

 

Burn out’ is currently a very popular diagnosis which is mostly used in the workplace, particularly by self-diagnosis. People like the diagnosis as it implies an excellent work ethic and makes the experience less personal.  Whereas it is an extremely helpful concept, reflecting contemporary unhealthy work circumstances and ways to improve them, it can also sometimes camouflage and distract from the more complex clinical picture of a given client. This means that it is very important that we give each presenting client particular attention to understand their particular psychological profile and differentiate burnout from more serious mental health concerns.

Christina Maslach is an eminent “burn out” researcher. She defines “burn out” by the presence of three symptoms:

  • emotional, mental and physical exhaustion (complete breakdown),
  • losing interest and motivation for work and
  • being inefficient at the work place.

 

At CHS we often see clients who are experiencing stress in the workplace. These clients seek our help at different stages. Some are just starting to feel overwhelmed by work demands; others are bordering on burnout and others come to us when they have already ‘burnt out’ and are physically and emotionally unable to return to work. We try to help them at each stage.

Typically we find that many young and ambitious employees will overwork, ignoring work life balance so that work becomes too central. This is often to the detriment of social life and even adequate self-care. Often these ambitious individuals will forgo social engagements, exercise and other necessary parts of daily life in order to work unreasonably long hours. Some work up to 18 hours a day. This is obviously not realistic or even humanly possible to maintain.

Some of the warning signs that we as clinicians at CHS look for are the following:

  • Feeling anxious or depressed
  • Anger and irritability
  • Sense of meaningless, pointlessness and loss of sense of purpose
  • Feelings of being unappreciated
  • Low energy /exhaustion
  • Anxiety, particularly feelings of panic
  • Memory problems
  • Concentration problems
  • Stomach problems
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope

 

How to prevent burnout?

Some useful tips to stay mentally healthy at work and prevent burnout include the following:

  • Clarify your job description – ask your supervisor for an updated description of your duties
  • Ask for new duties if work is becoming tired and has lost its challenge
  • Prioritize tasks, tackling high priority or more challenging tasks first
  • Break overwhelmingly large projects into small steps that are more manageable
  • Delegate responsibility and don’t try to do everything yourself
  • Be willing to compromise
  • Adjust perfectionistic or unrealistic work standards which set you up to fall short
  • Change negative focus which can drain your energy and motivation and try to see what is positive about your work
  • View work tasks as challenges and not as difficult obstacles to overcome
  • Ask for help by turning to your co-workers for support
  • Create a balanced schedule, making time for yourself to regain your energy reserves and prevent becoming depleted and plan regular breaks
  • Don’t over-commit yourself to doing work that you cannot manage
  • Take time off if burn out seems inevitable and make sure you recharge your batteries
  • Support your health with exercise – make time to exercise because activity that raises your heartrate and makes you sweat is a very effective way of lifting your mood, increasing energy, sharpening focus and relaxing both mind and body
  • Make considered choices regarding food such as minimizing sugar and refined carbs
  • Reducing your intake of food that can adversely affect your mood such as alcohol or caffeine
  • Eat more omega-3 fatty acids to give your mood a boost
  • Avoid nicotine and drink alcohol in moderation
  • Turn off screens an hour before bedtime – light emitted from phones and tablets suppress your body’s production of melatonin and may disrupt sleep
  • Replace stimulating activities with calming activities before bedtime

 

If you are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted to the point that you are no longer able to make the necessary changes to prevent a crash, you can call CHS to set up a confidential appointment with one of our therapists on (+32) 02 6476780.

Last week we announced our 10 negotiation principles and now that Article 50 has been triggered we felt it was due for a timely reminder as to what the priorities of our members are going to be during the negotiations.

WHAT BUSINESS NEEDS FOR A STRONG EU-UK PARTNERSHIP – 10 NEGOTIATION PRIORITIES

In order to underpin a stable, attractive and competitive European economy, the British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels (BCCB) have identified ten priorities that should underpin any future UK-EU relationship:

TRADE & INVESTMENT

Equivalent access and treatment: European businesses should be able to access the EU and UK markets, participate in trading mechanisms, trade and provide services across Europe under compatible and equivalent conditions, so as to maintain free and fair economic relations. A deep and comprehensive agreement should guarantee the new UK-EU relationship enabling mutual market access, compatible with EU rules on free movement of goods and services.  A close stable regulatory cooperation should ensure continuation of equivalence in standards and treatment. This includes continuation of tariff-free trading, simplified customs procedures, absence of duty rates and other restrictions, coordinated trade defences vis-à-vis third countries and tariffs and mutual preferential access to third countries’ markets, as well as open data flows.

Freedom of investment and establishment: UK and EU businesses should continue to participate in Europe’s economic life by enjoying mutual protection and unrestricted conditions of establishment and investment. An agreement should ensure that all entities engaged in economic activities, as well as movement of capital between the EU, the UK and third countries, are not subject to unjustified or unnecessary restrictions, for instance being able to rely on unhindered financing under stable equivalent conditions.

LABOUR MARKET

Skills, Qualifications & Employment rights: European businesses need to rely on the right skills at the right time and place, to ensure innovative and dynamic economies and support full employment, as well as on clarity on the rights of the workforce and related obligations of employers during the transition to a new UK-EU relationship. A system between the UK and the EU that provides adequate availability of these skills throughout Europe is a must, including through continued (and where possible enhanced) mutual recognition of professional qualifications in the new EU-UK relationship.

REGULATION & LAW

Competition: UK and EU businesses should benefit from healthy competition and a level playing field, in the interest of all European consumers, while embracing the opportunity provided by under the new relationship. An agreement should foster regulatory cooperation for continued alignment and equivalence in competition and M&A rules, to facilitate approvals, prevent abuses, limit compliance burdens, and ensure proportionality of antitrust investigations, as well as ensure close coordination on clearance of notifications.

Contractual relations and dispute settlement: European businesses must be able to maintain smooth contractual relations, without uncertainty as to the applicability of law in EU-UK cross-border situations, as well as benefitting from streamlined cross-border judicial procedures, certainty as to the competent courts and mutual recognition and enforceability of judgments, to safeguard attractiveness of EU-UK trade and investments.

Better Regulation: The principles of better regulation and proportionality should underpin the new EU-UK relationship and the agreements enshrining it, so as to avoid undue regulatory burden.

ENERGY & CLIMATE

To ensure a level playing field and respecting the principles of the Energy Union, under the new relationship the UK should have continued access to the Internal Energy Market (IEM) and commit to Europe’s climate goals.

TAX

In the negotiations towards a new relationship it should be ensured that the taxation of cross border trade and business activities does not become unnecessarily complicated or lead to double taxation. This applies in particular to the following tax matters: clarity in the application of the UK-EU VAT; keeping or reproducing frameworks that abolish tax impediments, such as the EU Arbitration Convention or legal frameworks on cross-border dividends within groups of companies; and maintaining a common system of taxation applicable to interest and royalty payments between associated companies from the UK and different EU states.

INNOVATION

IP and anti-counterfeiting cooperation: European businesses should be able to rely on continued consistency in the application of IP rules, including the application and protection of trademarks, designs, copyrights and patents. This should be complemented with anti-counterfeiting and anti-fraud cooperation between UK and EU authorities.

Innovation: UK and EU businesses have a shared interest in ensuring ongoing cooperation on knowledge exchange, research priorities and funding, and maintaining open participation in EU and UK R+I+D and education programmes.

 

The British Chamber’s Annual General Meeting is set to take place on the 31st May, where the results of the President of the British Chamber will be announced. Following the changes in the articles of association, members will also be given the opportunity to vote for a new Council to be put into place.

Last year’s AGM, the British Chamber opened its doors to Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo who spoke about Gibraltar’s place in Europe. We also discussed the progress of the events organised in 2016.

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The formal agenda this year will allow us to report on the work that was done in 2016, as well as giving a summary of our financial performance for that year. It gives us a chance to discuss how that work has continued on into forming the programme for 2017 and the progress made in the current year.

We’ll also be taking a look at the big issues facing the chamber in 2017; the negotiations of the UK leaving the EU being the obvious example. We’ll discuss how the chamber is planning to aid you in this process and our strategy. Make sure you keep the date free and join us to discuss the progress we made as an organisation in 2016.

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The Annual General Meeting is a free event open exclusively to our members and attendees will be invited to stay a little longer for a networking cocktail. If you’d like to register, click here to visit our events page or contact Andrew (Andrew.moore@britishchamber.be)

 

 

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