Plenty of red tape waiting to be cut

NEWS Published

BETTER REGULATION Cutting red tape has long been a dream of Swedish companies. But the current coalition government (Social Democrats and the Green Party) has put little effort into this issue. Strong measures are needed now, argues a second report from the project A Challenged Sweden. “We’re heading in the wrong direction. The numbers are alarming,” says Göran Grén, lawyer and author of the report.

Report author, Göran Grén argues that the Swedish government should take a holistic strategy to improving regulatory burdens including continual reporting on progress to the Riksdag.

Report author, Göran Grén argues that the Swedish government should take a holistic strategy to improving regulatory burdens including continual reporting on progress to the Riksdag.

Report author, Göran Grén argues that the Swedish government should take a holistic strategy to improving regulatory burdens including continual reporting on progress to the Riksdag.

In 2006, then Enterprise Minister Mauf Olofsson declared open hunting season on bureaucracy and red tape. This included her promise that companies’ administrative costs for regulatory compliance would be reduced by 25%.

The measures taken included requirements for impact assessments, problem statement, and explaining the purpose of new regulations when they are introduced. Additionally, the Swedish Better Regulation Council was created and tasked with reviewing the quality of the government’s impact assessments.

Despite these requirements, and the activities of the Swedish Better Regulation Council, regulations keep getting stacked on top of each other without any closer analysis, effectively discouraging enterprises.

A survey last year by the Board of Swedish Industry and Commerce for Better Regulation showed that 32% of entrepreneurs felt national regulatory compliance had become more difficult. Meanwhile, the share of entrepreneurs who say this has become easier has decreased since 2011. This figure was 21% then, while last year only 2% felt compliance was easier.

The declining trend is captured in the second section of the ‘A Challenged Sweden’ project report. It concludes that efforts to improve regulatory burdens have come to a halt, and that a revived process is needed to kick-start them again. It is vital that entrepreneurs have the opportunity and time to sell their goods and services, and to grow their businesses – instead of putting an increasing amount of time on administrative burdens.

“We are heading in the wrong direction. The numbers are alarming. Stifling regulations are being added, and Sweden is dropping in OECD rankings. We are falling behind many of our major competitors who are working to improve regulations to lighten the burden on their businesses,” argues Göran Grén.

He believes that many of the necessary instruments are already in place, they simply aren't used properly. Göran Grén highlights three vital changes:

First, the political approach must be holistic. The government should create a strategy for improving the current regulatory climate and to continually inform the parliament on its progress. “This is crucial in ensuring efforts to improve the regulatory climate are taken seriously and have a real impact -- extending beyond empty policy promises.”

Second, better impact assessments are needed. Most assessments conducted do not measure up. The latest Swedish Better Regulation Council’s report shows that of the 43 committee reports sent by the Government Offices, 81% did not meet the applicable requirements. The Ministry of Finance submitted 21 impact assessments. 19 where found inadequate by the Swedish Better Regulation Council, yet the Ministry of Justice did not investigate.

“The principle should be stopping all proposals from moving forward unless they include an approved impact assessment. Assessing and fully understanding the consequences of every proposal before taking any action should be the norm. But today, the opposite is true in many cases. The government starts by setting out its objectives and then the assessment is made,” notes Mr. Grén. “Fully adequate impact assessments also help to hold policy-makers accountable,” he adds.

Thirdly, he wants the Swedish Better Regulation Council to have a clearer role and organisation as a governmental authority – with a stronger mandate. The Swedish Better Regulation Council can play an important role, especially in terms of avoiding over-implementation of EU laws. “All the report's proposals can be implemented relatively easily, given the will to do so, and would have no budgetary impact in most cases.

Göran Grén would also like to see a broader business perspective when new regulations are implemented. “Businesses want regulations that are stable, proportional, and predictable. Poorly prepared regulation, unnecessary bureaucracy, and poor quality impact assessments are expensive and raise obstacles for business activities.”

News

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.
NEWS Published:

Close the ecocycle – recycling is better than burning

Anders Olsson is CEO for recovery business, Cassandra Oil, in Västerås, Sweden. He thinks that misdirected regulatory frameworks skew the way society manages plastic waste.
NEWS Published:

Free data flows in focus for the entrepreneurial sector

Global free trade, technical development and free data flows are entirely essential to export dependent Sweden. We are in the midst of a transformation to a thoroughly digitalised society where the possibilities for innovation are great and integrity needs equally great. Companies cannot conduct their business across national borders without moving data, as well – whether small or large, and in every industry. How can Sweden and Europe establish data-driven policy where all interests – personal, business, and societal needs – are preserved in the long term?
NEWS Published:

Plenty of red tape waiting to be cut

BETTER REGULATION Cutting red tape has long been a dream of Swedish companies. But the current coalition government (Social Democrats and the Green Party) has put little effort into this issue. Strong measures are needed now, argues a second report from the project A Challenged Sweden.
NEWS Published:

Red tape clogs the Single Market

RED TAPE Design and Lighting business, Watt & Veke, struggles with the administrative burden of selling to the EU Single Market. Right now, they’re having trouble with administering producer responsibility obligations and recycling electrical products. “Things are not as open as we would like,” says CEO Johan Pehrson.
NEWS Published:

Business community has an important role in the future EU

EU The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and BusinessEurope remain active in working to impact the EU’s agenda for the future. “The way forward will build on its original ideas of openness, trade, and economic integration,” commented Jens Hedström in celebrating the Union’s 60th birthday.
NEWS Published:

Reaction to the UK’s decision to leave the EU

COMMENT “We regret that the UK Government has decided to take this step” says Director-General of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Carola Lemne, “This is the beginning of a process entailing great risks for our companies and bringing few positive aspects with it”.
NEWS Published:

The VAT base and VAT rates - A contribution to the EU VAT Action Plan

TAXATION On the 7 of April 2016 the European Commission adopted the Action Plan on VAT - Towards a single EU VAT area. As a part of the action plan the Commission will present a proposal on VAT rates, with the aim of giving member states more freedom in this area. From a Swedish perspective this is the perfect time to further analyse and discuss how we want the VAT rules to be designed in the future.
NEWS Published:

Positive announcement on changed trading rules for emission allowances

EU The European Parliament voted on changes to the EU Emission Trading System for 2021 to 2030. The proposal includes an increase of emission allowances allocated free to industry, representing a victory for this globally competitive industry.
NEWS Published:

Is the EU single market SME-friendly?

COMMENT The European single market is supposed to be free from obstacles. People and goods, services and capital are to be treated equally - independent of which EU or ESS country they originate from. The single market is also a major reason why Swedish companies are generally very positive towards the EU.