The future of Europe

NEWS Published

New ways to tackle protectionism and the challenges of the union the upcoming years was on the agenda when the Swedish Society for Business and Politics, SPN, arranged its annual winter mingle in Brussels on December 5. The SPN invited new and old colleagues to the Nordic House for traditional Swedish Christmas snacks and drinks but also for a joint policy discussion. Participants for the discussion included the Swedish MEPs; Gunnar Hökmark (EPP), Fredrick Federley (ALDE) and Jakop Dalunde (The Greens), and also Thérèse de Liedekerke, Deputy Director General at BUSINESSEUROPE and Jens Hedström from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

SPN Mingle December 5th, 2016

SPN Mingle December 5th, 2016

Given the turbulent times globally, the invited speakers started to point out their visions for the EU in the upcoming 5 years. Gunnar Hökmark started by stating:

- A lot of people going on about that EU is in a crisis. I disagree, EU itself is not in a crisis but EU faces many external crises at the moment. In order to tackle this EU needs to get back to its main purpose and do what we are supposed to do in order to fulfill our aims.

The other panelists agreed to this statement. Jens Hedström emphasized that the EU needs to get back to ‘its roots’ to maintain a safer and more competitive Europe. The core is agreements to form a strong Europe that holds us together. Free flow of information and the single internal market are key factors in order achieve a successful Europe. De Liedekerke stressed that the single market is a key factor and that Europeans no longer can take the benefits of the EU for granted. Peace, social protection, among other issues, are not to take for granted without a functioning EU. “We have prosperous countries, but we also have countries struggling. And we need to remember that when dealing with these issues and the realities of the single market”, de Liedekerke put forward.

- To me, peace and to cure this disease called nationalism, are the most important tasks for the EU, Jakop Dalunde stated. He also lifted an example from the US, where it has taken a long time to form a common identity within the country. “We might not realize how hard it is to socially unite 28 member states, but I believe that we can overcome this and work together in the EU”, he said.

Federley also pointed at the aspect about the member states’ role in the EU and the upcoming challenges to get member states working together. Federley expressed a frustration that a lot of the problems that the EU have with implementation of legislation is due to the lack of commitment of the member states and also the lack of agreements in the European Council. When new policy is failing, it is often because of the member states are blocking the proposal, not because of the European Parliament, Federley declared.

When the discussion continued to the topic of free trade, all of the participants agreed upon that politicians and the business sector needs a new way of talking about free trade and highlight the benefits of free trade more clearly. Anti-EU forces does not understand where all the jobs comes from. They usually think that countries can close their boarders and everything will be alright. Antagonists of free trade do not see that it is the ‘average Joe’ who will pay the price in the end, Federley said.

Dalunde continued talking about how the benefits of trade must be put into light.

- The benefits of trade must be acceptably shared in the society. Many people want protection from trade and globalization because they do not see how they could benefit from open and traded markets. For example, Sweden and the UK have been successful in distributing the trades befits in society.

Hedström added that this can be done when the society is working together, not just businesses, but also trade unions and politicians working together and standing up for free trade.  Hökmark closed the discussion by stating the following;

- I have an economic theory and that is that ‘export require import’ and that ‘import require export’. You have to buy goods and services from others in order to make them buy from you. Where you have trade, you have more prosperity and more jobs, and we see that those countries who trade the most have the highest employment. Politicians needs to speak up in order to defend the principals of free trade.

Hökmark, who also is the Chairman of SPN, thanked all the participants at the event and the evening continued with mingling and ‘lusselbullar’ in the Christmas atmosphere.


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

INNOVATION 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.
NEWS Published:

Government Welfare Inquiry proposal leads to total ban on profit

WELFARE SERVICES – WELFARE SERVICES – The Government Welfare Inquiry led by Ilmar Reepalu presenting a proposal for regulating profits was premised on enabling continued private sector provision of welfare services. The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise begs to disagree, based on a special study we assigned auditors PWC, and as argued by Caroline af Ugglas and Anders Morin.
NEWS Published:

Proposal on Pillar of Social Rights threatens the Swedish model

PILLAR OF SOCIAL RIGHTS The EU is pushing strongly to address social problems. However, the Commission’s recent proposal restricts Member States’ right to decide, and so threatens the Swedish model.
NEWS Published:

Free Flow of Data crucial for the Data Economy

COMMENTS Do not burden the digital development in the EU with a complicated framework that is too complex for companies to understand, let alone comply with. The digitisation of society and business will bring us great opportunities if the policies governing the data economy can develop strategically with an eye to the future.
NEWS Published:

Creating a competitive EU post-Brexit

BREXIT The British government is expected to trigger Article 50 in a few months and the ultimate effect on both Britain and the European Union are still largely unknown. Since the British referendum on the exit of the EU, intense discussions on the future UK-EU relationship have unfolded. What is missing from the debate is an emphasis on how to make sure EU competitiveness is strengthened in this period of political uncertainty.
NEWS Published:

The EU Commission publishes its “Services Package”

FREE MOVEMENT On 11 January 2017, the EU Commission a package containing four initiatives aimed at improving the free movement of services in the single market. The Commission’s ambition is to create “A European services economy that works for Europeans”. The services package was first announced in the Commission’s Single Market Strategy “Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and business” adopted on 28 October 2015. The response of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise to the Single Market Strategy is available here
NEWS Published:

Free movement in the internal market

EU For companies engaged in cross-border trade within the EU, it is particularly important that the obstacles to free movement in the internal market are removed.Särskilt angeläget är ett effektivt samarbete mellan EU:s institutioner och medlemsstaterna för att förfärdiga den inre marknaden. It is especially important that there is an effective cooperation between the EU institutions and Member States to complete the internal market.Större politisk tyngd måste ges till den gemensamma inre marknaden som är nyckeln till framgång i EU-samarbetet och avgörande för EU:s ekonomiska tillväxt. Greater political weight must be given to the common internal market, which is key to the success of EU cooperation and crucial for EU economic growth.
NEWS Published:

Low growth expected for Swedish economy

ECONOMY The economy continues to show slow growth, in Sweden and around the world – as shown in the latest forecast from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. “Most concerning is the labour market. Bifurcation in the labour market is widening over time and will continue to do so without structural reforms,” says Bettina Kashefi, Chief Economist at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.