European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently delivered her annual keynote ‘State of the Union’ speech, identifying a wide range of areas on which the EU must focus. The content is positive, but Confederation of Swedish Enterprise’s President Fredrik Persson would have preferred to see an agenda that showed a greater focus on competitiveness and entrepreneurship.
In her speech, Ursula von der Leyen outlined the current status of the European Union, listed the main proposals that are currently underway and offered her thoughts and ideas for the future. The President of the European Commission mentioned that - among other issues - the importance of global cooperation and trade. She also underlined the continuing importance of the single market.
– This is a positive thing. At the same time, however, I would have liked her to have been clearer about how the single market would be developed and how it would be made easier for companies to trade globally, says Fredrik Persson.
Von der Leyen highlighted a number of initiatives and new projects during her speech, but Persson noted that entrepreneurship and business were barely mentioned. Nor did she mention the importance of investing in research and innovation.
– It is the companies that provide the engine of this work. The right conditions for them are crucial to achieving all the ambitious green and digital goals that von der Leyen has set, noted Persson
Central to Ursula von der Leyen’s’ speech was, of course, the EU’s recovery from the pandemic.
– The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise is fundamentally in favour of the EU’s recovery package; at the same time, however, it wishes to emphasise how important it is that the money is used for measures that strengthen both Sweden’s and the EU’s competitiveness. However, I do not just want to see a recovery, but stronger growth for companies and thus citizens in all Member States. We have tabled a proposal for a Recovery Scoreboard, in order to be able to follow up and ensure that the investments end up in the right place - something I hope the Commission will take further.
Climate and green transformation
Not unexpectedly, President von der Leyen focused on the climate crisis and the green transformation. The ‘Fit for 55’ initiative sets out a clear roadmap for the EU to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, with virtually all energy and climate policies to be reviewed.
The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise supports the goal of the EU reaching net zero emissions by 2050. Fit for 55 is a crucial component in the journey to a greenhouse gas emission-free EU, and there are great opportunities for Swedish companies within the transition.
– At the same time, we believe it is important to safeguard the fundamental principles of cost-effectiveness and competitiveness, says Persson.
The way forward
In conclusion, Persson said much of the speech was positive.
– But again, it is important that we focus primarily on what is the EU’s core strength - a competitive single market with successful companies, which are able to operate in a global market. This is the path to stable growth for the entire Union, he concluded.