ECLA’s First-Ever Annual Conference – A Success!

In the week leading up to the 2019 European Election, ECLA hosted its long-awaited Annual In-House Legal Conference, a two-day event gathering company lawyers, stakeholders and representatives from the EU institutions, which saw lively debates and fascinating presentations on topical issues and challenges facing in-house counsel across the continent.

The topics of discussion ranged through various fields of interest for company lawyers, from panel discussions on the digitalisation of legal departments and Brexit, to crisis management, compliance, employment law and the practical implications of GDRP.

On the first day of the Annual Conference, ECLA had the pleasure to welcome MEP and co-chair of the Greens/European Free Alliance Group, Philippe Lamberts, who delivered a thought-provoking speech about the future of European Union and the rebalancing of the European Parliament’s political landscape following the EU elections.

Taking a break from the spirited discussions of the event, the two days were punctuated by a spectacular Gala evening at Train World, the official museum of the National Railway Company of Belgium, featuring delicious food, engaging conversations and a truly spectacular backdrop of historic trains wagons and locomotives.

The Annual Conference also featured an address from Marc Beyens, president of the Belgian Federal Institute for Company Lawyers (IBJ-IJE), who gave an overview of the law recognising the benefits of legal professional privilege to Belgian in-house counsel, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year.

After two days of intense exchanges and debate, ECLA was honoured to have former Vice President and three-term European Commissioner Viviane Adélaïde Reding deliver the closing keynote speech on the future of the Digital Single Market, the upcoming EU elections, and how the surge of populist political movements could, rather than destroy Europe as some have prophesised, end up giving it the boost it desperately needs to reinvent itself and its integration process.

In particular, Commissioner Reding addressed the implementation of GDPR over the last year, and pointed out how other countries and states, most notably Japan, Australia and the State of California, are rallying behind the data protection rules set out by the regulation by adopting similar legislative provisions, proving how the European Union remains a powerful force in setting standard and ethical principles around the world in the digital ages. According to Reding, EU policy efforts in these areas must continue, especially considering the large-scale violations of personal rights that looser data protection regulations can lead to in countries like the United States, as the European Union ought to “be a standard maker not a standard taker”.

ECLA would like to thank everyone who took part in this very successful Annual Conference: stay tuned for our third edition of Legal Disruption, which will take place in Paris on 25 to 26 September, we hope to see you all there!