BUSINESSEUROPE Day 2015 "Invest in Europe"

On March 26th, BUSINESSEUROPE Day was organized in Brussels. The theme of this year’s full day event was “Invest in Europe”, and a large number of participants showed up from the business side and media. Among the speakers were President of the European Commission (EC) Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Parliament (EP) Martin Schulz and many more.

Easier exports with free trade agreement

FREE TRADE Small family business Ahlberg Cameras from Sweden, is a world leading manufacturer of camera equipment for the nuclear power industry. 90% of their production goes to export – with 50% alone to the US. But costly trade tariffs on sales to the US throw a spanner in their works. “A free trade agreement would make things much easier for us,” says CEO Joakim Ahlberg.

Stråberg hands over the reins

INTERNATIONAL TRADE Hans Stråberg stepped down as co-chair of the executive advisory group Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue in the Trans-Atlantic Business Council, where he has been the leading voice of European businesses and commerce for the past two years. He tells us his most satisfying achievement was the Business Dialogue being able to get reluctant politicians become more enthusiastic for the ongoing free trade negotiations between the EU and the US.

The Nordic Corporate Governance Model

The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has sponsored and supported a project aimed at defining a common Nordic model of corporate governance within SNS (the Centre for Business and Policy Studies), Sweden’s leading policy research institute, in co-operation with leading researchers, experts and business people from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. As a result the book “The Nordic Corporate Governance Model” was launched.

Advice (x3) for the Swedish National Council for Innovation and Quality in the Public Sector

OPINION The centre-left coalition government (Swedish Social Democrats and Green Party) just launched a new national council for Innovation and Quality in the Public Sector. Taking experiences with earlier tries at similar policy council, the Globalisation Council and the Future of Sweden Commission, Tobias Krantz, Head of Education, Research and Innovation, and Emil Görnerup, Head of Research and Development Policy at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, outline several principles to guide the new council.

An EU Energy Union Facing Challenges

OPINION The European Commission presented its plan for the EU energy union, designed to ensure access to environmentally sustainable energy at reasonable prices to all European households and businesses. The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise welcomes this initiative, but sees that several challenges await as energy markets of member nations are integrated in terms of infrastructure and legislation, writes Linda Flink, Energy and Climate Specialist. 

New EU-VAT – threat to small businesses

NEW LEGISLATION Many small Swedish IT-companies will have a hard time surviving under new EU VAT rules. Many companies aren’t even aware of it, notes Anders Ydstedt, who runs the company Rymdweb. “For us, it means we have to turn down all private customers from other EU countries than Sweden,” he says.

An important wake-up call

ECONOMY The government must tackle its responsibility to increase investment after the Riskbank announcement on the 12 February that it is lowering the main base rate to -0.10%. This can be as investment in infrastructure or cutting red tape.


Investor-state dispute settlement – better than its reputation

COMMENTARY Investor protection, known as ISDS (Investor-state dispute settlement), is the issue in Sweden raising most criticism about the current free trade negotiations for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and USA. This dispute settlement procedure enables companies to claim compensation when states expropriate their assets. The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, through expert on international trade Olof Erixon, argues ISDS actually works much better than its reputation.

The Executive Board visits Brussels

THE EXECUTIVE BOARD OF CONFEDERATION, The Executive board of Confederation, consisting of 18 people under the direction of President Jens Spendrup and Director General Carola Lemne, flew to Brussels this week to increase their involvement in the Confederation’s top priorities in the EU sphere. They had a busy program with meetings with some of the key influential persons for Swedish business. To mention a few of the points on the agenda the group had a dinner at the residence of Swedish Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the EU Anders Ahnlid and met Swedish members of Parliament from C, M, MP and S.

Will research policy be the next EU crisis?

EU Excellence in research and innovation is key for creating growth and jobs in Europe. Total investment in research globally is increasing substantially. Eastern and Southeast Asia makes up for more than a third of global investment, China has doubled its investment in the last decade. With just 2 percent of GDP in research investment, Europe, home to many world-leading companies, is less research-intensive than the US, China and Japan.

Continue to Focus on Real Jobs

DEBATE The Statistics Sweden (SCB) official unemployment measure doesn’t give an accurate representation of the total number of unemployed in Sweden. The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has therefore created an expanded measure of unemployment that provides a broader view. This measurement shows that the real unemployment rate is at one of its lowest levels since the mid-1990s.

For a better Europe with Sweden

THE CONFEDERATION OF SWEDISH ENTERPRISE celebrated 40 years of engaging with EU policy-makers in Brussels, with a big event and several distinguished speakers to shed light on the role of business in shaping the EU of today and on how to create a bright and competitive future for Swedish and European business.

An inviting Sweden can gain in the global talent hunt

LABOUR MIGRATION Globalisation and technical developments are creating fantastic opportunities. Recent decades have seen hundreds of millions of people rising above poverty due to technological and trade improvements. Countries previously linked only with hunger and war, are now seen as global tiger economies, writes Carola Lemne, recently installed as new General Director for the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

Sweden should work to promote simpler EU regulation

REGULATORY RED TAPE Current practices in public procurement and VAT regulations impede Swedish companies trying to grow in Europe. This and other findings were recently published in a report from the Board of Swedish Industry and Commerce for Better Regulation (Näringslivets regelnämnd, NNR). “VAT is a greater concern for small enterprises than for larger businesses,” concludes reporting author Andrea Femrell.

Financial Reporting – too little or too much?

NEW REPORT Do we have a “disclosure problem” in financial reporting for listed entities? If so, is this a problem of information overload or inadequacy? During 2013 three researchers at the Stockholm School of Economics initiated a study, supported by the Swedish Enterprise Accounting Group at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, in order to contribute to this debate. The study was presented at a seminar last week.

Successful job seeking “down under”

LABOUR MARKET Australia’s jobs agencies are all private and compete with each other for assignments. 15 years after this sea- change, everyone wants to hear about their favourite successful national employment services model. “We have a lot to learn,” notes Ulf Lindberg Head Private Sector Policy for Almega (the Services Sector employers’ association).

The internal market tears down barriers

EU The internal market has brought European nations closer to each other and broken down protectionism, according to Per Linde, Senior Advisor at Linde Metallteknik. Still, plenty of red-tape remains to trouble businesses. That’s why voting in the upcoming EU parliamentary election is important to work for change, Mr Linde says.

Debt crisis priority issue in Swedish election debate

BRUSSELS Austerity policies in Europe, current free trade negotiations between the EU and USA, the climate threat, and the internal market were several of the heated issues addressed when the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise helped organise an election debate with Sweden’s EMPs in Brussels.

eCommerce business started thanks to the internal market

EU Scandinavian Design Online, an eCommerce company selling specially designed interior design products over the Internet, would not exist without the internal market. MD Jörgen Bödmar has also taken a personal interest in working to improve the EU cooperation.

Welcome proposal for greater mobility across borders

COMMENTARY The centre-right coalition government has agreed with the Green Party on a series of proposals to make it easier for foreign students and entrepreneurs to stay and work in Sweden. These changes are welcomed by the business sector, writes labour market expert Karin Ekenger for the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

The ‘I’ in the TTIP will create a global gold standard

TRANSATLANTIC TRADE Sir, EU and US trade negotiators are meeting this week for the fourth round of negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). As the name suggests, our partnership stands on two firm pillars: trade and investment, writes Mr Peter M Robinson, Mr Karsten Dybvad and Mr Urban Bäckström in Financial Times.

How to create a half million new jobs?

LABOUR MARKETS Swedish unemployment rates currently lie at historically high levels, so the opposition Social Democrats promised in their shadow budget to achieve the lowest EU unemployment levels by 2020. Such, clear definition of objectives is always good, but more important is being realistic in understanding the prerequisites to achieve such ambitious targets. Clearly, these objectives require additional serious consideration, writes chief economist Ann Öberg and Urban Bäckström, Director General, Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

Employers shift gears to advance EU

GETTING THE MESSAGE OUT Getting the message out—The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise is currently working flat out for the EU parliamentary elections. Through a series of activities, the organisation is promoting its positive view towards open boarders and freedom of movement.

"The internal market must be allowed to grow"

EU Family business Svalson AB, located in the farthest northern Swedish county of Norrbotten, is a global leader in producing sliding teller or transaction windows. 40% of their production is exported to Europe. ”The internal market has made it much easier for us. Less paperwork and fewer regulations mean we can sell at a lower prices – which is better for our customers and lets us increase sales,” explains Maud Spencer, MD for Svalson AB.

Zero Tariffs between EU and USA – for jobs and growth

TTIP NEGOTIATIONS Chief negotiators in the TTIP free trade agreement between the EU and USA met in Brussels to discuss tariffs on industrial goods and agricultural products. ”We hope these negotiations can agree on zero tariffs for most goods,” write Hans Stråberg, Europe Co-Chair for the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue, and Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson, President of the LO (Swedish Trade Union Confederation).


Business friendly Europe can create jobs and growth

COMMENT The EU Commission recently issued its Communication “For a European industrial renaissance,” which expresses a desire to make Europe more business-friendly. The Communication states this can be done by implementing a series of measures already in place. But, the primary message is how it is vitally important for all member states to understand the necessity of a well-functioning industrial and business base to create growth and jobs, writes Sara Lowemark, the Brussels office.


Productivity increase when LAS reformed

EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS 2001 amendments to the Swedish Employment Protection Act (LAS) order of termination rules excepting small companies led to increases in labour productivity of 2.5% or more, as reported by economist Carl Magnus Bjuggren in his doctoral thesis.

More difficult recruiting foreign students

SKILLS SUPPLY The Swedish government has made it harder for youth from outside the EU to study and work in the country. Entrepreneur Tommy VeittiKoski Deputy MD for Smartshake AB, wants to see a change. "We’re experiencing high growth and have huge recruitment needs," he says about his company with sales in 50 countries.

140 countries committed to entrepreneurship

GLOBAL Next week we’ll see this years’ edition of Global Entrepreneurship Week. This time there are 140 countries taking part, and the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has enthusiastically clicked ’Like’. Everyone who arranges an activity linked to entrepreneurship and innovation during the week is welcome to make an appearance under the event’s umbrella – entirely free of charge.


When education gets taken for granted

EDUCATION "Lax attitudes among Swedish students; teachers with entirely too low demands." Thus, a female Master’s student at one of Sweden’s larger universities summarises her experiences, writes Mikaela Almerud, expert on tertiary education.

Climate targets vs Industrial policy - can we do both?

EU EU has committed itself to promote the role of industry and its competitiveness. Which target or targets for energy and climate policy should be set – only one for CO2 emissions or do we also need a renewables target? Do we need targets for competitiveness and security of supply? These and other questions were on the table at a seminar in the European Parliament organised by the Swedish Society for Business and Politics (SPN).