A well-functioning EU that sets the right course for its future development are crucial for Sweden’s continued prosperity. Growth, trade and jobs are all directly dependent on which path the EU chooses to follow. A competitive Europe is also the best way to face a challenging global environment. Sweden needs to be a driving force behind ensuring that the EU has the right focus and makes building a strong single market and a competitive EU a top priority.
Let Sweden’s Presidency of the EU in 2023 act as a launch pad to translate such ambitions into action.
Sweden holds the presidency for 33d 15h 4m 53s
In view of the Swedish Presidency, we have identified five priorities for a more competitive Europe:
Strengthen and deepen the single market.
Take global leadership in free trade.
Promote a green transition.
Promote companies’ research and development activities.
The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise wants to see a strong EU, one that can hold its own in the face of increasingly tough global competition. We want to contribute to the discussion on how we develop the internal market, and how the digital and green transitions can be successfully combined with growth.
To address this, we have developed - in the run-up to the Swedish Presidency - five key priorities for a more competitive EU.Download
Europe is facing strong economic headwinds. Addressing the short-term needs of businesses is imperative. At the same time, we must also take on the longer-term challenges, not least closing the gap between Europe and the global leaders at the frontier of growth and innovation.
There is currently no common approach to boost competitiveness at EU level. But with a joint strategy the gap can be closed. Therefore, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise presents a competitiveness compass for the EU - with a focus on policies and reforms necessary for the next five to ten years.
With reforms that only moderately reduce the regulatory burden, opens for more trade integration with the world, and increases spending on R&D with a few percent, the European economy would grow by 3 percent. Another €430 billion in value added would go right into the EU economy, boosting productivity, income, jobs and tax revenues.Download the brochureRead the report form ECIPEEconomic dividend
The Presidents of BusinessEurope’s 40 member federations have mapped out a direction for Europe and business in the years ahead in the StockholmDeclaration, which you can find below.
More than half of Sweden’s exports go to the EU, therefore the development of the EU as a trading area is crucial for our growth.
The total number of jobs created by exports amounts to 1.2 million, of which 770,000 are in goods production and 430,000 in services production. We have assumed that the share of jobs corresponds to the share of the value of goods and services production respectively to calculate the share of jobs related to exports to the EU, which is an approximation.
Source: Harry Flam (2021) ”Den internationella handelns betydelse för Sverige”.
European competitiveness is based on a strong single market that promotes coordination and transparency between Member States. One specific area where the single market has unexploited potential is the services sector.
An action plan is needed in which existing obstacles to a growing services market are reviewed and concrete action is proposed by the European Commission to remove these. Other issues that should be prioritised to strengthen businesses’ competitiveness include the free movement of workers, avoiding micromanagement of the European standardisation system and working towards greater harmonisation of market surveillance.
International trade is crucial for Swedish prosperity. For trade to work, we need predictable and transparent rules that guarantee openness.
A positive trade agenda that increases opportunities for international trade is of considerable importance in order to balance the growing number of defensive instruments that are now being developed within the EU. Sweden should therefore actively support negotiations and the ratification of new free trade agreements. Similarly, Sweden should encourage the EU to take the lead in reforming the World Trade Organization (WTO) and continuing to develop relations with the US, including within the Trade & Technology Council (TTC).
It is vital for our future that the green transition is managed successfully. To achieve the EU’s more ambitious climate goals – which the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise supports – future measures must be produced with a view to growth.
Unless the transition also puts people in a better position, the climate will not be prioritised on a sufficiently broad front. The green transition must therefore take place in a cost-effective manner that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation. Favourable conditions for industry to transition to more circular alternatives, and a goal of security of supply for the electricity system, are examples of topics that should be prioritised for the Swedish Presidency and that will have an important role in final negotiations on the major climate package “Fit for 55”.
Industry must be given the best possible conditions for continuing to drive technological development. Technological protectionism must be discouraged, with technological capacity being encouraged and the right balance being struck between innovation, integrity, and transparency.
Updated laws and regulations are therefore needed around data flows, data sharing, AI, and e-commerce. For example, data flows should be enabled to a greater extent through more adequacy decisions in respect of third countries and greater inclusion in EU free trade agreements. In addition, the Swedish Presidency should work on legislation that promotes, rather than restricts, the use of trustworthy AI.
Research and development provide much of the foundations for competitiveness. However, investing public funds in research projects for future technologies selected for political purposes is not the way forward. Instead, the public sector should create well-designed rules that enable companies to compete – on a level playing field – to produce the best possible technical solutions.
The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise would therefore like to see the upcoming Swedish Presidency prioritise proactive initiatives in joint EU programmes – such as Horizon Europe – with competition remaining the starting point for investment and innovation.