Creating a competitive EU post-Brexit

NEWS Published

BREXIT The British government is expected to trigger Article 50 in a few months and the ultimate effect on both Britain and the European Union are still largely unknown. Since the British referendum on the exit of the EU, intense discussions on the future UK-EU relationship have unfolded. What is missing from the debate is an emphasis on how to make sure EU competitiveness is strengthened in this period of political uncertainty.

Creating a competitive EU post-Brexit seminar

Creating a competitive EU post-Brexit seminar

The British government is expected to trigger Article 50 in a few months and the ultimate effect on both Britain and the European Union are still largely unknown.

Since the British referendum on the exit of the EU, intense discussions on the future UK-EU relationship have unfolded. What is missing from the debate is an emphasis on how to make sure EU competitiveness is strengthened in this period of political uncertainty. Britain’s pending departure from the Union makes the competitiveness of the remaining 27 countries crucial and cause for a more focused debate on how to make sure EU stays competitive and increases its strength as a global economic player.

In order to address this important topic, the Swedish Society for Business and Politics, SPN organised a debate between representatives from five of the largest political groups in the European Parliament on how to ensure EU competitiveness in the aftermath of Brexit.

Among the speakers were Gunnar Hökmark (EPP, SE), Hans Olaf Henkel (ECR, DE), Fredrick Federley (ALDE, SE), Philippe Lamberts (Greens, BE) and Marita Ulvskog (S&D, SE).

Philippe Lamberts, Belgian MEP from the Greens, underlined in his intervention that the EU has a vested interest to reach a good deal with the UK.

- We must not be punitive, but it would not be conducive for a good relation if the UK decides to create a tax haven 30 km from EU. If we look around ourselves, we have political unrest and threats in all directions, including political leaders in both east and west dead set to divide Europe. This, however, should help to pull ourselves together. In order to rekindle trust in the European project we must also remember the founding ideas of peace, extension of democracy and shared prosperity. As for competitiveness, UK will be sorely missed. We need now to be even more outward looking. We need to focus on high value competitiveness and out-innovate our competitors. One important area is devising innovative solutions on how to fit our way of living within the biophysical limits of the planet, he concluded.

Hans Olaf Henkel (DE) from the ECR group thought that the euro was partly to blame for a dwindling trust in the EU project in the UK and a reason for Brexit.

- Why was Brexit possible? Partly, because Europe had to save the euro, we had to centralise and harmonise policies and socialise of public debt and politicians such as Nigel Farage could point at a Europe that Britons didn’t want. Brexit is a qualified disaster for Europe. EU will suffer much more than UK. How to become more competitive? By competition! Some say Europe has done too little and too late, but in fact EU has done much too much to harmonise and centralise. Europe is a continent of diversity. We need more competition at all levels and between small units. Less Europe and not so fast, concluded Henkel.

Marita Ulvskog (SE) from the S&D group also believed the EU had to strive for a good deal with UK and avoid being punitive.

- We must discuss and find compromises with UK and focus on factual issues. But I can see problems with the their position on migration. Europe cannot and should not backtrack on its position. We need free movement and open labour markets, but with xenophobic and what I call fascist views on the rise, we also need regulations, especially those that protect wages and working conditions, said Ulvskog.

Fredrick Federley (SE) from the liberal ALDE group:

- I don’t want the centralist, super-state EU as advocated by some. My vision is a multilevel federalist EU of 28 member states. I am in favour of a strong European constitution. As for the effects of the Brexit, they will be particularly noticeable in the area of research and innovation and the Horizon 2020 programme, where the UK participation is crucial. At a more practical level, we need to reinforce implementation of EU rules, also in situation when the rules are formally implemented but not applied. We also need to be better in capitalising on inventions and innovations, said Federley.

Gunnar Hökmark (SE) representing the EPP group argued for a good and close relation with a post-Brexit UK as possible.

- Europe today is doing better than ever. Thanks to the European Union, we live in freedom, the iron curtain is gone, we have a bigger internal market than ever, open borders, more competition and less regulation than ever. Globally the number of people living in relative poverty is drastically shrinking. It is not the fault of the EU that the Italian economy has been overspending for 40 years, that Italy, Romania and Bulgaria are at the bottom of the league when it comes to digitalisation, that bureacracy and red tape in UK is higher than the EU average? No, but people need a scapegoat and that scapegoat is often the EU. Looking to the future we must strive for a good European partnership with UK and to enhance our presence as global trade partner, said Hökmark.

The seminar was led by Gunnar Hökmark, Member of the European Parliament for the EPP-group and president of SPN, the Swedish Society for Business and Politics. It was held in the Thon Hotel Renaissance in Brussels and gathered around 50 participants from European institutions, business organisations, trade unions, NGO’s and other stakeholders.

News

NEWS Published:

American tariffs hurt Swedish and European industry

"President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports is very unfortunate. It will hurt Swedish industry both directly and indirectly", says Carola Lemne, Director General of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
NEWS Published:

The EU-commission wants to go big on AI

AI  The US and China are way ahead of Europe regarding development of autonomous computer systems. That disadvantage must change if European business and industry is to retain its competitive edge into the future, writes Olof Erixon, Senior legal counsel.
NEWS Published:

EU – the clearest voice for free trade

In the beginning of May, the Free Market Road Show (FMRS) took place in Stockholm. Jens Hedström, Head of Brussels Office, International Director, Swedish Enterprise, was one of the panellists together with PJ Anders Linder, CEO Axess Foundation, the British economist Richard Teather among others.
NEWS Published:

Sweden should oppose the digital tax proposals

TAXES The Swedish Government should oppose the controversial digital tax proposals from the EU Commission and work with the OECD to find an internationally acceptable solution.
NEWS Published:

Controversial EU tax proposal on digital services causes concern for small exporting economies

TAX The Director Generals for the Swedish, Danish and Finnish business federations have, in a joint letter addressed to the Finance Ministers of their respective countries, expressed their concern for the EU Commissions digital tax plan.
NEWS Published:

Protectionism only produces losers

The impact of globalisation has been positive for most of the world’s population. However, the economic integration of economies also accelerates change which puts increasing pressure on societies to be able to adapt to such change. We need to stand up for the clear advantages of globalisation, while making sure our societies have the flexibility necessary to adapt to rapid changes in technology and labor markets. These were the main conclusion at a seminar about free trade and globalization in times of protectionism, organized by The Society for Business and Politics in the European Parliament.
NEWS Published:

Let’s talk about the losers of protectionism

European politicians have a big role to play in communicating why globalisation matters. We need politicians that are brave enough to talk about the losers of protectionism, not just the losers of globalisation, writes Carola Lemne.
NEWS Published:

The European Commission: Swedish companies best at innovation

Within the framework for the European Commission’s EU Industry Day February 22-23 in Brussels, Teknikföretagen and RISE was chosen to present how Swedish enterprise and academy cooperate around invention under the headline TESTBED Europe, accelerating innovation and strengthening eco-systems. The seminar proved to be one of the events most popular, and gathered experts from all over Europe. The participants all agreed that Sweden is the leading example of innovation, but why?
NEWS Published:

OECDs ambassadors meeting – act for growth and prosperity

January 19th marked the date for BIACs annual meeting with the ambassadors of OECD. This year’s theme was ”Business priorities for OECD action: a call for growth and prosperity” and tackled subjects like entrepreneurship, multilateral framework for trade, tax and investments, creating opportunities for business to create the jobs of the future and developing high quality regulation that strengthens businesses competitiveness. 
NEWS Published:

Trilogue negotiations – striking the right balance between transparency and efficiency

A trilogue is just what it sounds like – a dialogue between three parties. In a European context the three parties in question are the European parliament, the European Commission and the Council. There are advantages to these trilogues; it’s a quicker decision process which can be used ad hoc with the three most important parties present. But the opposition is growing against the increased frequency, particularly because of lack of transparency that trilogues entail.
NEWS Published:

Entrepreneurship crucial for successful companies in Europe

We need a holistic perspective to be able to create a better European ecosystem for entrepreneurs. Innovation is not enough, the products must be commercialised and reach the market if companies are to be able tocreate growth.
NEWS Published:

A framework for free flow of non-personal data in the European Union

COMMENT The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise welcomes this regulation with its aim to ensure the free data flow within the European Union. Europe can no longer afford to keep the Digital Single Market held back by protectionism and fragmentation, says Göran Norén, Head of Department, Industrial Affairs, and Carolina Brånby, Digital Policy expert.
NEWS Published:

Nordic labour market models and the Social Pillar – complementary or colliding?

SOCIAL PILLAR The Nordic employer organizations organised a seminar in Brussels where invited representatives from the EU institutions, industry and trade union discussed their views on the Social Pillar taking into account the Nordic labour market models.
NEWS Published:

Connected consumers: risk or opportunity?

New technology and data-driven innovation create new business models and services that enable companies to help their customers by adjusting their products and become more relevant. At the same time, access to and analysis of data challenges the personal integrity and the view of how integrity should best be safeguarded. How shall development of new services and personalisation be balanced with demands of personal integrity? Do consumers have access to relevant information? And who is responsible for what?
NEWS Published:

Business and politics hand in hand to solve environmental challenges

The world and humanity are facing some of our greatest challenges. More people are using more natural resources. Fish stocks are running the risk of extinction, freshwater resources are far from adequate, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing and biodiversity is becoming depleted. Never before has a creature been able to affect our planet to the extent humanity does today.All of this constitutes major challenges - but there is hope for our future. And many solutions can be found within the business community.
 
NEWS Published:

The recipe for a competitive EU

The success of the EU’s can be measured largely in the level of exchange in goods, services, people, and capital. The complete implementation of the Single Market is key. Much remains to be done in many areas, such as the free movement of services and labour, eliminating restrictive national processes, regulations and standards, and ensuring that common legislation is applied uniformly and consistently. As long as barriers to the four freedoms remain, European competitiveness will continue to be held back.
NEWS Published:

Trump cannot kill climate hope

As the USA now plans to exit the Paris Climate agreement, the EU and Sweden can have the greatest impact by demonstrating that combining competitiveness and high levels of prosperity with continuing to reduce climate emissions is possible. The entrepreneurial sector will drive climate issues forward, more than policy makers. Technical innovation is advancing quickly in many fields, reducing costs for new technology. Even US President Donald Trump cannot change these facts despite his misguided passion for coal, writes Maria Sunér Fleming, Head of Energy and Climate Policy at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
NEWS Published:

Do we need a more social Europe?

Is a “Social Europe” the right medicine to stop growing populism? Can new social rights and social legislation foster growth and jobs? Is the fight against social dumping in fact a pretext for protecting domestic workers? What is the role of the EU and the Member States?
NEWS Published:

Trust in the European Union at a crossroads – Europaperspektiv 2017

Swedish universities have since 1998 cooperated in national networks within political science, economics and law. The purpose is to enhance the interest and knowledge in the European Union. Each year a book is published to disseminate knowledge to a broader audience. The book is divided into three main areas, political science, economics and law and each year grasps a specific topic. The topic of the year is trust, which incorporates trust both between member states but also between citizens and institutions.
NEWS Published:

How the Nordics achieved an integrated electricity market – Lessons for Europe?

Last November, the European Commission presented its package "Clean Energy for All in Europe". Among the proposals currently being discussed in the Council of Ministers and in the European Parliament are the draft legislation on the electricity market design, security of supply and governance of the energy union.