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:

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.
NEWS Published:

Worries over Brussels minimum wage initiative

EU The Swedish Labour Market Council for EU Affairs has sent a letter to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. The letter contains several sharp messages to the Commission, where one is that EU lacks competence in the area of pay. 
NEWS Published:

Stellinger on Trade Policy Day: "Protectionism means everyone loses"

INTERNATIONEL TRADE What is the way forward for EU trade policy during these turbulent times? This was the central issue during the European Parliament’s discussions on trade policy. "We live in an entirely new trade world" said Anna Stellinger, Deputy Director General, international and EU affairs.
NEWS Published:

The GDPR alone is insufficient

GDPR The GDPR compromise from 2016 has been shown to have both strengths and weaknesses - particularly from a business perspective. It is vitally important to delivering proper data protection and trust, but it is demanding and costly to adhere to vague and overly-detailed legislation. This creates compelling reasons to discuss how to support compliance and important processing in order to remain technological competitive, says lawyer Carolina Brånby at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. The report, entitled “What’s wrong with GDPR?”, is now available in English.
NEWS Published:

Questions vital for the future of the industry

SEMINAR The Swedish Construction Federation and MEP Abir Al-Sahlani (RE) have organised a seminar "Building Europe - Future of work the construction” in the European Parliament.
NEWS Published:

Anna Stellinger: Director of International and EU Affairs at Confederation of Swedish Enterprise

NEW LINE OF WORK Anna Stellinger today takes up the newly created position of Director of International and EU Affairs at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. She will also join the management team.
NEWS Published:

Review the Swedish Exemption Regarding Financial Transactions

TAX The VAT exemption regarding financial transactions is often used in Sweden as an argument to raise taxes in the financial sector. However, the exemption is harming the business climate as well as growth and development.
NEWS Published:

EU lose much of its attraction without the single market

EU A fully developed single market is central to fight climate change, promote sustainable development, to fully harness the potential of digitalisation and strengthen Europe’s competitiveness. Without the single market, the EU would lose much of its attraction.
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.