SME-companies in the digital economy

NEWS Published

EU 24 million small and mid-sized businesses are the greatest asset within EU. "Regulations must be dealt with to give SME-companies the opportunity to reach their full potential", says Anna-Lena Bohm, chairman of BusinessEuropes SME:s and Entrepreneurship committee.

Anna-Lena Bohm
Foto: ADAM IHSE / TT

Anna-Lena Bohm

There are 24 million small and mid-sized businesses, so called SME businesses, in Europe. These companies are a great – if not the greatest – asset when it comes to tackling todays economical and social challenges.

The vice president of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and president of Uniguide, Anna-Lena Bohm, is also the chairman of BusinessEuropes SME:s and Entrepreneurship committee. February 19 BusinessEurope arranged a seminar in Brussels on the subject of what SME companies can and should expect from the upcoming EU SME-policy.

BusinessEurope states that small and midsized businesses need the opportunity to work in a modern legal and administrative environment. The inner market needs to be more accessible for these companies, and they need help to do business outside the EU and take better advantage of the free trade agreements. The SME-companies need an easier way to find financing, fine tune their innovations and find both talents and external advice. And of course it’s important to be able to take advantage of the digitalisation process, which is what Anna-Lena Bohm dedicated her speech to.

Seen to today’s trends it is obvious that a large part of the future economic growth will be coming from digitalisation. It can give smaller companies the opportunity to act on a larger market, which can in turn be opened up and create opportunity for both innovation and commercialisation.

But thought this development seems bright, it might need a helping hand. 

– First of all it will take better regulation to protect the competitiveness that is a consequence of the market economy. Smaller companies have more issues with complicated and time consuming regulation; there is a risk that they simply find an expansion too complicated to go through with. Therefore the regulatory framework needs to be stable, technology neutral and predictable. A good regulatory framework, on the other hand, will give businesses even better opportunities. It should be as easy to sell a product in the whole EU as it is to sell it in the native country.  

European traders face 28 different sets consumer rules, ranging from legal warranty period to rules on the recognition on goods. It takes a lot of time and money for a company who wants to take advantage of the single market.

– The key word is harmonisation and simplification. Harmonisation of consumer rules, payment solutions, certifications and so on to apply to the whole single market. Simplification of the information duty is absolutely necessary; today an e-retailer needs to leave 39 points of pre-purchase information for a purchase.

Access to the data itself is crucial, not in the least for the tourist industry, hotels and platforms, and retail. When access is limited a hotel might lose access to information and knowledge about their customers and their behaviour, which makes it harder to create new offers.

– This is also a bigger problem for the smaller companies than the very large ones, and once again EU regulations contribute to an imbalance of the market. This must be dealt with to give SME companies the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Digitalisation and a top quality infrastructure for data communication go hand in hand. Here too there is room for improvement, not in the least concerning speed and bandwidth. EU should focus serious effort in this area if we are to be able to compete against the rest of the world. But here too it is important not to overregulate, warns Anna-Lena Bohm.

– We need to let principles such as transparency, non-discrimination, consumer choice and interoperability guide us and only regulate when and where the EU competition rules fail to prevent monopolies or when the marker forces are put out of play. We need to create conditions where all companies can compete on equal terms. If we handle the digitalisation process correctly it will be an enormous success factor for European small and midsized businesses. If we don’t we’ll soon be taken over by our competitors.

News

NEWS Published:

GDPR: More support for companies but no legislative changes

COMMENT Every four years, the European Commission evaluates the Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The first report states that Europe needs the acquis to be applied uniformly. This will help smaller companies and facilitate international data exchange.
NEWS Published:

"The legislative proposal sets out what pace the EU should adopt in its climate work"

EU In March, the European Commission published its proposal for a new European climate law. Therefore we asked the Swedish MEP Jytte Guteland (S, S&D) some questions.
NEWS Published:

"Other countries can not take advantage of our ambitious climate work"

EU In March, the European Commission published its proposal for a new European climate law. Therefore we asked the Swedish MEP Jessica Polfjärd (M, EPP) some questions.
NEWS Published:

Swedish Enterprise is contributing to EU:s data strategy

COMMENT Work is currently underway on the EU's data strategy, looking at how best to utilise data within the internal market. Swedish Enterprise is contributing to this work, among other things, by highlighting the needs and desires of the business sector, and has recently responded to a consultation on the EU Commission's ongoing work, writes Carola Ekblad, Digital policy.
NEWS Published:

An ambitious circular economy action plan from the European Commission

COMMENT In recent years, the European Commission has focused heavily on the circular economy in achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The Swedish business community wants to take a driving role in development and to contribute constructively to the work, writes Jenny Svärd.
NEWS Published:

"The Green Deal steer the economy towards a sustainable society"

EU The Swedish MEP Fredrik Federley gives his view on the recovery programme proposed by the European Commission.
NEWS Published:

A recovery plan for Europe after COVID-19

EU If companies are to be able to emerge from the crisis and continue to grow, we need to see an ambitious and coordinated recovery plan for the EU as early as possible, write Anna Stellinger, Deputy Director General, and Anders Edholm, Head of EU-office.
NEWS Published:

Necessary actions to mitigate the Corona crisis

TRADE Swedish Enterprise has sent a position paper to EU-commissioners, Members of the European parliament and several others in order to bring the attention to the list of proposals you can find below.
NEWS Published:

EU state aid regulations can save companies and jobs

COMMENT To help Member States preserve companies and jobs during the current coronavirus crisis, the European Commission has rapidly relaxed EU state aid regulations. At the same time, it is important to safeguard equal conditions for both competition and free enterprise, writes competition and state aid expert Stefan Sagebro.
NEWS Published:

Coronavirus crisis: Seven trade actions that need to be taken now

COMMENT The coronavirus outbreak is placing unprecedented pressure on the EU and international trade. The goal should be to lay the foundations for the best possible conditions post-Corona that keeps as many companies – and jobs – viable. We have no time to wait, writes Anna Stellinger, Deputy Director General Confederation of Swedish Enterprise
NEWS Published:

Information on coronavirus / COVID-19 for you as a business owner

CORONA (UPDATED REGULARLY) Due to the recent developments in the spread of the coronavirus, we have summarised the sources where you, as a business owner/operator entrepreneur, can find the latest information.
NEWS Published:

In times of crisis, barriers are not the answer

COMMENT EU must now take powerful measures in the field of trade policy. A constructive measure would be to completely remove import duties on necessary medical equipment, hand soap and disinfectants, imported from third countries, writes Anna Stellinger, Deputy Director General International and EU Affairs.
NEWS Published:

EU industrial strategy: "Now the real work will begin"

COMMENT The European Commission has presented an industrial strategy. This will lay out the course for the coming five years. The strategy presented today is simply the starting point. Now the real work will begin, says Göran Grén, Director Head of Business Policy and Law Division at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
NEWS Published:

"Most important a trade agreement with the UK"

FREE TRADE How should the EU relate to major powers such as the US and China? How does the EU best approach the defence of free trade and an open and a favourable investment climate? To find what our Swedish MEPs in the Trade Committee think, we asked Jörgen Warborn (M, EPP) a few questions.
NEWS Published:

"The US and China are blending trade policy with geopolitical goals"

FREE TRADE How should the EU relate to major powers such as the US and China? How does the EU best approach the defence of free trade and an open and a favourable investment climate? To find what our Swedish MEPs in the Trade Committee think, we asked Karin Karlsbro, L, Renew Europe.
NEWS Published:

This is how to shape Europe's digital future

COMMENT The European Commission is launching its strategy for Europe's digital future. “The debate on the surveillance society, the mapping of citizens and the profiling of consumers is an important consideration as we move into this future, writes lawyer Carolina Brånby.
NEWS Published:

A Competitive European Industry

EU The European Commission will present its industrial strategy on 10 March. In response to this, Swedish Enterprise has produced the position paper, "A Competitive European Industry". This summarises the organisation's views on a range of issues.
NEWS Published:

11 exciting climate projects from Sweden

Swedish companies have long been at the forefront of combining sustainability and environmental ambitions with growth and innovation. From fossil-free steel to CO2 capture, Sweden’s businesses are leveraging tomorrow's technology for a greener world. As innovation and climate-smart solutions become an increasingly important element in our competitiveness, we have listed 11 ground-breaking climate projects currently underway in Sweden’s business world.
NEWS Published:

"There are no long term winners in a protectionist world"

EU Anna Stellinger, Deputy Director General International and EU Affairs, believes that the new European Commission must demonstrate that it can manage several issues simultaneously. “It must keep the Union and the single market together, stand up for free movement and maintain its focus on core areas.”
NEWS Published:

Swedish Enterprise about the Green Deal

EU – There are several elements contained in the initiative that will be important for Swedish industry, says Lina Håkansdotter, Head of Sustainability and Infrastructure.