Discours

28-03-2017

Working lunch BELFIUS - Let’s build tomorrow’s smart solutions together

March 28th, 2017


- - - the spoken word alone prevails - - -

 

 

[Introduction]

Deres Excellencer,

Mine damer og herrer,

Kære gæster,

Det er en fornøjelse at stå her i dag og byde Dem velkommen til dette frokostmøde, som Belfius Banken afholder. Dette møde er nøjagtig hvad Belgiernes Kong Phillippe og Dronning Mathildes statsbesøg skal være, det vil sige et møde som bringer eksperter og beslutningstagere sammen med henblik på at styrke vores forbindelser både på det akademiske, kulturelle og økonomiske område. Dette tredages besøg vil give os mulighed for at udveksle synspunkter om temaer som bæredygtig udvikling, vedvarende energi, sundhed, transport, logistik og selvfølgelig smarte løsninger.

Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear guests,

It is a true pleasure to be here today and to welcome all of you to this lunch-meeting, organized by Belfius. This is exactly what the State Visit of Their Majesties King Philippe and Queen Mathilde to Denmark is all about: bringing together experts and decision makers, and in this way strengthening the bond between our two countries on an economic, academic, and cultural level. This three-day visit will enable us to exchange views on topics as sustainable development, renewable energy, health, transportation logistics, and, of course, smart solutions.   

 

[Smart Solutions]

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The main focus of this meeting lies on the word “Smart”, which has somewhat become a buzzword in the past years, going from smartphones over smart cars and smart grid to smart TVs, smart glass and smart boards. Everyone wants to be smart indeed! Yet, it still is the best word to cover our objective of bringing qualitative innovation in an all-inclusive and efficient manner in order to prepare ourselves for the future.

 

And I have some personal experience with “smart” initiatives also. During my past tenure as Belgian Minister of Defense, I stood at the cradle of the concept of “Smart Defense” within NATO, a cooperative way of thinking about how to generate and sustain the modern defense capabilities that the Alliance needs for the future. And as mayor of the Flemish town of Aalter, I recently launched a collaboration on Smart City Vision, with experts from LivingTomorrow and the incubator TomorrowLab, making us pioneers in this kind of cooperation in Belgium.

 

Yet, regardless of the method being used or the field of application, the objective always remains the same: to provide a future-oriented and often technological answer to challenges that we are facing in many different fields, including those of energy, economy, mobility and environment. In particular, I am thinking about the increasing urbanization and population density, but also about mobility, air quality, an aging population, the impact of climate changes, and digitalization.  In order to turn these challenges into opportunities, we need to organize ourselves in a smart, sustainable and intelligent way. The aim is to increase the quality of life and, of course, also to improve the quality of society as a whole. I would even state that each Smart Solution has to contribute to a more sustainable, more ecological, and more social society, otherwise it isn’t to be called ‘smart’. So, as one of the most innovating countries in Europe, Belgium attaches great importance to this topic and our King and Queen are also very much involved in the Smart Solutions concept, because of all the benefits it provides to the population, as well as its important role in the realization of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

 

[Denmark and Belgium]

Ladies and Gentlemen,

However, there is no need to tell or to convince the Danish people about the benefits of Smart Solutions. You are true pioneers in this field and we are here to discuss a lot of ideas and opportunities. And there surely are a lot of them, as Denmark and Belgium are very much alike. We are rather small countries in size or citizens, but we really pack a punch. Belgium, like Denmark, is considered a world-class innovative hub with an open economy, built on important international ports that offer a privileged access to the European inland. Yet, there still is an important scope for growth of our bilateral trade and investments. The total export of goods from the European Union to Denmark amounts to € 56 billion, with a Belgian share of 5%, making us the 6th European exporter to Denmark. Total imports of goods from Denmark to the European Union amounts to some € 50 billion a year, with a Belgian share of 2,5%, making us the 10th largest European importer of goods from Denmark. Not bad, but we could do much better. The same goes for our mutual investments. Numerous Belgian companies have important investments here, including H.Essers, Agfa Gevaert, Solvay and UCB, D’Ieteren, Zetes, and Van de Velde. Some 60 Danish companies also have an office in Belgium, of which seven have more than 100 employees. But here also, many opportunities are left untapped.

 

[Conclusion]

Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our challenges are very similar, our knowhow extended and our experiences sometimes different. So today, we are united around these tables to talk, to exchange views and ideas, and to assist each other in tackling our challenges together by using new scientific knowledge and technologies. This State Visit will undoubtedly offer many new opportunities to invigorate the bilateral trade, investments, and cooperation between our Kingdoms. I will conclude by thanking Belfius for having organized this meeting, and I fully support their “Smart Belgium” project, which is a great initiative to work constructively towards a sustainable and smart society in the future. But Mr. Marc Raisière, Chief executive officer at Belfius, will tell you everything there is to know about this project.

Thank you, Jeg takker Dem alle for Deres venlige opmærksomhed !

 

Pieter De Crem

Secretary of State for Foreign Trade

 

- - - the spoken word alone prevails - - -


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