ARTICLE1 December 2021

Prioritise competitiveness and regulatory improvement during Sweden’s EU presidency

On 1 January 2023, Sweden assumes the presidency of the EU. This will provide an important opportunity for Sweden to set the agenda for what the EU should focus on, as well as to decide which issues and topics should be addressed and prioritised during Sweden’s six month-presidency. One area that should be prioritised is regulatory improvement for business. 

Photo: Unsplash, Wesley Tingey

The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise is a member of the Board of Swedish Industry and Commerce for Better Regulation, (NNR), which represents the business community on regulatory improvement issues. The NNR has proposed a number of important measures in the area of rule improvement that should be prioritised during the Swedish EU presidency, some of which are presented below.

In its proposals, the NNR emphasizes that a key issue for all parties should be growth and competitiveness. This is because EU member states – and the business community in particular – have an acute need to recover, and because this is necessary to meet the high ambitions that exist in the climate and environmental sphere.

Rule improvement for strengthened competitiveness. It is crucial that regulations are designed to be competitive and effective. This means, among other things, that rules need to be flexible and technology-neutral and provide sufficient flexibility for the emergence of technical innovations and new business models.

Increased requirements for impact assessments, follow-up and evaluation. Businesses often incur unnecessarily large costs and are subject to regulations that are perceived as unpredictable. Therefore, there should be a significantly greater requirement on the Commission to actually make impact assessments of all proposals that could have a significant impact on business.

The European Parliament and the Council also need to take responsibility for, and account for the effects of, their proposals for substantial amendments to the Commission’s proposals before an act is adopted. Today, this happens only to a very limited extent, if at all. As a result, acts are passed that have negative effects on the competitiveness of businesses or which entail increased regulatory burdens and undesirable effects without this being known in advance. In addition, the regulations need to be evaluated and followed up to a greater extent than is currently the case.

A more democratic and transparent regulatory process. Transparency needs to increase in EU decision-making processes so that regulations can become more democratic and predictable. This includes greater transparency in the trialogues, where EU institutions negotiate legislative proposals presented by the Commission. Today, for example, not even meeting dates and agendas for these important negotiations are made public.

Another example of how processes need to be improved is the use of delegations from the Council and European Parliament to the Commission to produce so-called delegated acts. Delegated acts can be used to supplement or amend non-essential elements of enacted legislation. Despite this, there are several examples when delegated acts have had significant impacts, for example, within the framework of the EU’s new taxonomy. By reducing the use of delegated acts and making processes more transparent, it is possible to avoid delegating issues that may have significant effects.

Improved implementation of legislation and realistic implementation times. Implementation times are increasingly becoming short and unpredictable. This is partly due to the delayed adoption of delegated acts and technical standards and recommendations. In addition, when implementing EU directives, member states often go beyond what is required as a minimum agreed at EU level, so-called gold-plating. This results in a fragmented internal market and uncertainty about what rules actually apply in various countries, which makes it difficult for businesses that want to trade and operate in additional EU member states.

NNR’s priorities for Sweden’s EU presidency include the following:

  • Better regulation for improved competitiveness
  • Flexible and technology neutral rules and regulations that promote innovations
  • Increased requirements for impact assessments, follow-up and evaluation
  • A more democratic regulatory process
  • Better implementation of EU legislation

Read more here.

A longer version of this article has been published in Swedish on Europaportalen here.

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Publisher and editor-in-chief Anna Dalqvist