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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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."
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.