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:

Proposals for competitiveness

REPORT The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, in co-operation with its experts and membership organizations, has produced concrete proposals for measures to ensure that Europe will maintain its competitiveness in the global arena.
NEWS Published:

How EU-decisions affect Swedish companies

REPORT The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has evaluated how the major decisions taken within the EU during the last mandate period affect Swedish companies. Our evaluation shows that 24 of the 57 legal acts we have chosen to look at have been positive for Swedish companies.
NEWS Published:

SME-companies in the digital economy

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.
NEWS Published:

SME-companies in the digital economy

BUSINESS 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.
NEWS Published:

The Nordic countries need to block EU assault on tax veto

TAX For countries with a common currency and a limited common budget, it is particularly important to be able to pursue an active national fiscal policy when an external shock is encountered, writes Claes Hammarstedt.
NEWS Published:

Artificial intelligence on everybody’s mind

EVENT Artificial intelligence is on everybody’s mind in the EU capital. The European Commission recently launched its strategy for artificial intelligence, which focuses on promoting research and development of AI across European sectors.
NEWS Published:

AI made in EU

JOINT EFFORT The EU-commission has presented a joint effort with Member States to promote the development and use of artificial intelligence, AI, in Europe. To strengthen AI-technology and uptake in Europe is welcome. Swedish Enterprise believes that the conditions within Europe must be strengthened in order to successfully improve the global competitiveness of our companies. Here are our thoughts and proposals.
NEWS Published:

Swedish expert represents European industry in expert group on AI

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise’s digital expert Carolina Brånby is representing BusinessEurope in the European Commission High Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence, AI HLEG. Their role is drafting ethical guidelines, and to create recommendations on how to strengthen the uptake of AI within the EU.
NEWS Published:

What impact of the Social Pillar on EU prosperity?

The EU’s approach to social policy is currently changing. In November 2017, the European Pillar of Social Rights (the Social Pillar) was proclaimed as a visionary document setting up goals for an upward convergence in this area. In this year’s State of Union address, the president of the EU-commission Jean-Claude Juncker asserted that “It is time we turned the good intentions that we proclaimed at the Gothenburg Social Summit into law”. And, as a matter of fact, this process is well under way.
NEWS Published:

The entrepreneurial perspective is being neglected in the EU digitalisation process

The digital single market is a hot topic in the EU right now. Sweden has plenty of confidence when it comes to digitalisation, which does by its nature transcends all borders. The government’s overall goal is for Sweden to be best in the world at using the opportunities offered by digitalisation. But unfortunately the entrepreneurial perspective usually comes second when the European countries attempts to create a digital inner market.
NEWS Published:

American tariffs hurt Swedish and European industry

"President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports is very unfortunate. It will hurt Swedish industry both directly and indirectly", says Carola Lemne, Director General of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
NEWS Published:

The EU-commission wants to go big on AI

AI  The US and China are way ahead of Europe regarding development of autonomous computer systems. That disadvantage must change if European business and industry is to retain its competitive edge into the future, writes Olof Erixon, Senior legal counsel.
NEWS Published:

EU – the clearest voice for free trade

In the beginning of May, the Free Market Road Show (FMRS) took place in Stockholm. Jens Hedström, Head of Brussels Office, International Director, Swedish Enterprise, was one of the panellists together with PJ Anders Linder, CEO Axess Foundation, the British economist Richard Teather among others.
NEWS Published:

Sweden should oppose the digital tax proposals

TAXES The Swedish Government should oppose the controversial digital tax proposals from the EU Commission and work with the OECD to find an internationally acceptable solution.
NEWS Published:

Controversial EU tax proposal on digital services causes concern for small exporting economies

TAX The Director Generals for the Swedish, Danish and Finnish business federations have, in a joint letter addressed to the Finance Ministers of their respective countries, expressed their concern for the EU Commissions digital tax plan.
NEWS Published:

Protectionism only produces losers

The impact of globalisation has been positive for most of the world’s population. However, the economic integration of economies also accelerates change which puts increasing pressure on societies to be able to adapt to such change. We need to stand up for the clear advantages of globalisation, while making sure our societies have the flexibility necessary to adapt to rapid changes in technology and labor markets. These were the main conclusion at a seminar about free trade and globalization in times of protectionism, organized by The Society for Business and Politics in the European Parliament.
NEWS Published:

Let’s talk about the losers of protectionism

European politicians have a big role to play in communicating why globalisation matters. We need politicians that are brave enough to talk about the losers of protectionism, not just the losers of globalisation, writes Carola Lemne.
NEWS Published:

The European Commission: Swedish companies best at innovation

Within the framework for the European Commission’s EU Industry Day February 22-23 in Brussels, Teknikföretagen and RISE was chosen to present how Swedish enterprise and academy cooperate around invention under the headline TESTBED Europe, accelerating innovation and strengthening eco-systems. The seminar proved to be one of the events most popular, and gathered experts from all over Europe. The participants all agreed that Sweden is the leading example of innovation, but why?
NEWS Published:

OECDs ambassadors meeting – act for growth and prosperity

January 19th marked the date for BIACs annual meeting with the ambassadors of OECD. This year’s theme was ”Business priorities for OECD action: a call for growth and prosperity” and tackled subjects like entrepreneurship, multilateral framework for trade, tax and investments, creating opportunities for business to create the jobs of the future and developing high quality regulation that strengthens businesses competitiveness. 
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.