Free flow of data can power European growth
INTERNAL MARKET The digital revolution is no small thing, write six representatives for the Confederation of Swedish Enterpise.
INTERNAL MARKET The digital revolution is no small thing, write six representatives for the Confederation of Swedish Enterpise.
Over the last couple of years the issue of how to protect the tax base has been very high on the agenda in countries and on the European agenda. The G20/OECD BEPS project is in full swing and will have a tremendous impact on the tax landscape.
FREE TRADE Swedish trade unions and employer organisations agree a trade agreement between the EU and the US, the TTIP, is important to Swedish companies and jobs. However, several issues must still be resolved, as with disputed investor protection clause.
FREE TRADE EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, made a quick visit to Stockholm based Firefly. “The daily operations of small and medium sized companies (SMEs) are a recurring topic in the transatlantic free trade agreement negotiations,” Ms. Malmström said.
DIGITALISATION The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise hosted a seminar with the Latvian Embassy on the ‘Digital Future of the EU — Engine of European Competitiveness’. This highlighted the challenges the EU faces in global competitiveness and digitalisation. “We are far from having a common digital market”, was the message of the participants.
OPINION In Europe we have an understanding that diversity in corporate governance models is important for our companies. This understanding is challenged by the European Commission’s proposal to revise the Shareholder Rights Directive, writes Carola Lemne, Kristin Skogen Lund, Jyri Häkämies, Almar Guðmundsson and Karsten Dybvad, Chief Executives of the Nordic Confederations of Industry.
FREE TRADE An agreement on free trade between the EU and the US would simplify daily operations for manufacturers FLIR from Täby, just north of Stockholm. 99% of their production goes to export. “It would be easier for us to buy components internally from the US and sell finished systems back”, says Rickard Lindvall, General Manager for FLIR Systems in Täby.
NATIONAL ECONOMY A new report shows that the share of women in managerial positions at all levels has increased among members of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. Currently, over one in three managers are women.
OPINION In Europe we have an understanding that diversity in corporate governance models is important for our companies. This understanding is challenged by the European Commission’s proposal to revise the Shareholder Rights Directive.
EU Europe is at a crossroads. How can we make sure to reap all the benefits of the data revolution and use them to our advantage? What challenges in our society can be solved by facilitating data-driven innovation in the EU? How do we remain competitive in an increasingly digital network of global value chains? Those and other questions were on the table at a seminar organised in Brussels by the Swedish Society for Politics and Business, SPN.
FREE TRADE Winches made by Sepson in north-central Sweden are used world-wide, but bureaucratic barriers delayed it from opening business for in the USA. “A free trade agreement would help our expansion significantly,” says Mats Elfsberg, CEO at Sepson AB.
BUDGET BILL The Swedish governing coalition of Social Democrats and Greens, recently introduced their spring budget bill, but which includes a series of proposals harmful jobs, investment, and enterprise, noted Carola Lemne, General Director of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. “It’s a dangerous path to follow just when Sweden’s competitiveness need reinforcing,” she added.
OPINION The EU’s free trade agreement with South Korea has been in place since July 1 2011. The latest European Commission progress report on its implementation highlights the benefits gained by both parties. Facts that for all those who reflexively oppose international trade agreements should give good reason to pause and reconsider.
FREE TRADE Finalizing a free trade agreement between the EU and the US rests in many ways on Swedish shoulders. Cecilia Malmström, the Swedish EU Commissioner for Trade, has joined the negotiations at a crucial stage. She needs to ease public concerns, placate opposition, and act as a driving force when the parties sit down to discuss details of the agreement. The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise’s magazine had an exclusive interview with Cecilia Malmström.
THE SAUDI AFFAIR Cancelled business meetings and broken contracts have followed in the wake of the diplomatic crisis between Sweden and Saudi Arabia. Confederation of Swedish Enterprise General Director, Carola Lemne, finds the situation worrying and hopes the government can straighten out all misunderstandings as soon as possible.
OPINION Economic growth is often depicted as an obstacle to rather than a necessary condition for creating environmentally sustainable development. But this view is increasingly being questioned, as research and empirical data now clearly point to a convincing conclusion — that economic growth and investment are essential to stemming environmental and climate challenges, writes Nicklas Skår, environmental rights specialist.
ENERGY The red-green coalition government in Sweden announced an agreement with Norway regarding an increased Swedish interest in the European Energy Certificate System, and a bill is expected in the late April. Maria Sunér Fleming, Energy Specialist at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise is critical to the announcement. “Implementing a change that hems in the recently appointed parliamentary energy commission, restricting it in any way is unfortunate,” she says.
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.
CHANGES The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has increased its emphasis on global issues. A new secretariat has been opened to support our international operations. As well a new advisor for international issues has been appointed. The organisational change is already in place!
REPORT "Women’s participation in business is growing, and has reached record levels in 18 Swedish counties. More worrying is that 18% of all entrepreneurs are above the age of 64, as reported in the recently published study ‘Entrepreneurship in 2015’. “Conditions for women have improved. When markets are opened in areas like healthcare, more women are been able to start and run their own businesses," says Carolina Brånby, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise Business Climate Expert.
OPINION Swedish electronics flagship Ericsson announced over 2,200 redundancies in their home county, a clear signal of tough competition in the global economy. Companies always change, restructure, and evolve. As must Sweden’s policies to keep from falling behind. So far, however, the new left leaning Swedish government has brought no good proposals. Ericsson’s redundancy notice signals a tightening global economy – with high-paced change and razor sharp competition, says Tobias Krantz, Head of Education, Research and Innovation.
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.
Trade unions and employers within the industry have agreed on a policy as a contribution to the negotiations between the EU and US.
EU The Advisory Committee of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise visited Brussels on February 25-26. The delegation consisted of the executive management of the Confederation, as well as CEOs for the main sector organisations.
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 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.
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.
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.
DEBATE The transatlantic trade and investment partnership, TTIP, is being negotiated between the EU and the US. A successful agreement between the two the biggest economies in the world would have a huge positive effect on the world economy. Against this backdrop, the Swedish Society for Business and Politics, SPN, organised an important policy debate in the European Parliament together with more than 200 participants from European institutions, businesses, NGO’s and other stakeholders.
LETTER We the undersigned business groups, which together speak for more than 3.4 million companies in all sectors across Europe employing over 55 million European citizens, believe that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) offers significant benefits for our employees and European growth.
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.
TRADE Here we give answers to myths about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
TRADE In a survey commissioned by Swedish Enterprise, 700 small and medium-size enterprises point to current legal uncertainty, unequal requirements, double bureaucracy and tariffs as major obstacles to trade with the US, writes Carola Lemne, CEO Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
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.
FREE TRADE When Cecilia Malmström was nominated as European Commissioner for Trade, delight in the corridors at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise was almost palpable. Niklas Bergström, International Coordinator for the Confederation, notes that the appointment opens an opportunity to influence trade policy for a long time to come.
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.
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.
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.
COMMENTARY The recently elected centre-left government seems keen on raising what is already the world’s highest marginal tax rate. If this becomes reality, the Swedish economy could be severely harmed to the extent that this would barely increase tax revenue at all! What’s more, it might even bring in less, writes Krister Andersson, chief of tax department.
REPORT "Europe has fallen behind in the global knowledge economy. The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise recently published a report promoting a redirected European research and innovation policy. Cutting the CAP agricultural and structural funds distributed throughout the EU would free significant resources to invest in reducing the current research gap to the USA", wrote Carola Lemne General Director for the Confederation.
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.
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.
EU Directives have simplified participating in public procurement across EU member states, notes Björn Falk, MD for Swedish public transportation specialists Samres AB, “simply converging all the processes within the EU has proven extremely beneficial.”
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
EU Mobility should be promoted. Providing facts and raising knowledge about the benefits of free movement is now more vital than ever. This was the main message in a seminar organised by the Swedish Society for Business and Politics, SPN, in the European Parliament.
EU The strongest competitive card in the EU’s hand is the internal market. Much has been done to create the world’s largest economy. But there is still more to do. This conclusion is found in a report from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
COMMENT It´s crucial that the EU and the Member States keep up with the work on eliminating Double Taxation within the Union and worldwide, writes Hussein Abdali, taxexpert, Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
GENDER EQUALITY Company boards of directors are indeed becoming more equal in gender distribution according to Petra Hedengran, Corporate Governance Manager at Swedish conglomerate Investor. Cautiously optimistic, she states that "promoting diversity is important, and involves both gender and ethnicity, but formal regulation is not the way to go."
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.
COMMENTARY The recent international climate summit round in Warsaw ended by establishing planning to have a binding climate agreement ready for acceptance at the Paris summit in 2015, to take effect 2020. Unfortunately, this conclusion was rather vague and imprecise. Innovative businesses can provide a variety of solutions to climate issues, writes Maria Sunér Fleming, Climate and Energy Manager at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
NEW DIRECTOR GENERAL A unanimous board decided to make the current CEO of Praktikertjänst the new Director General of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise
GENDER QUOTAS A series of business representatives and researchers have publically argued that reasoning against legislating gender quotas for company boards are hard to understand. "Companies with gender-mixed boards are governed better and are more profitable than other companies" – is a common argument used by mandatory quota advocates.
THE EU ELECTION My last Outlook and Debate article from 25 October discussing how extreme parties are benefited by a kind of ‘somebody-else-ism’ in debate about the EU attracted many encouraging comments – thank you for all of them!
COMMENTARY Many recent analyses show that the EU Directive on maritime fuel sulphur content will lead to significantly higher costs for many industries reliant on maritime transport. The Swedish government has promised that the directive will not negatively impact Swedish industrial competitiveness. The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise questions how this promise can be kept.