If companies are to be able to emerge from the crisis and continue to grow, we need to see an ambitious and coordinated recovery plan for the EU as early as possible, write Anna Stellinger, Deputy Director General, and Anders Edholm, Head of EU-office.
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Europe's economy and politics will inevitably undergo major changes; this is in spite of all the efforts of governments and EU Member States. Unfortunately, even a gradual easing of the current stringent restrictions will not be sufficient to prevent numerous bankruptcies and the closures of companies. This will lead to higher levels of unemployment, lower tax revenues, poorer public finances and threats from national governments to introduce protectionist measures.
If companies are to be able to emerge from the crisis and continue to grow, we need to see a clear, ambitious and coordinated recovery plan for the EU as early as possible. This should focus on encouraging investment, promoting growth and creating employment.
The Council has charged the European Commission with developing a recovery plan for Europe. As a basis for discussion, as well as offering a response to the Swedish government and the Swedish EU parliamentarians, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise therefore presents here a number of constructive proposals to promote jobs and growth and where the EU's European Green Deal initiative is a key element. In the past, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has also produced proposals for crisis packages at the national level and submitted these to the Swedish government.
These proposals for the EU fall under main four headings; they can be read in full in the document available for download below.
European Green Deal - a boost for growth
The EU should put its green ambitions at the heart of any plans for Europe's recovery. The EU should focus on an effective environmental and climate policy, at the same time as strengthening the conditions for a competitive business sector. A genuinely successful climate policy should ensure that the EU reduces emissions, boosts growth and increases the number of jobs, as well as strengthening the EU’s competitiveness and prosperity.
The European Union - doing business at the speed of light
The digital transformation will be an important driver of Europe's future competitiveness. It is time to promote innovation capabilities; automation, cybersecurity and the increased use of AI, IoT and 5G. A principle-based, technology-neutral regulatory framework, support for research and a favourable investment climate will be central to ensuring Europe's digital competitiveness and strengthening its capacity for innovation and technological development.
Turbocharging the EU’s growth engine - the internal market
The core of any recovery plan must be to develop and strengthen the EU's internal market. The internal market is also the basis for the EU's global competitiveness. The priorities should be to remove existing bottlenecks in the internal market and to strengthen the free movement of goods, services, people, capital and data. These moves will accelerate the EU's economic and social recovery. Member States should therefore oppose any proposal that restricts the EU's internal market.
The European Union - open for business
Trade will be vital in promoting a sustainable economic recovery and enabling companies to rebuild those value chains adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Trade priorities should be to initiate plurilateral negotiations, leading to a suspension of import duties on medical equipment and protective equipment. Until this is done, the EU must urge all countries to suspend tariffs temporarily. Simplifying and updating customs procedures and maintaining foreign direct investment is crucial.