The recipe for a competitive EU

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The success of the EU’s can be measured largely in the level of exchange in goods, services, people, and capital. The complete implementation of the Single Market is key. Much remains to be done in many areas, such as the free movement of services and labour, eliminating restrictive national processes, regulations and standards, and ensuring that common legislation is applied uniformly and consistently. As long as barriers to the four freedoms remain, European competitiveness will continue to be held back.

The digital dimension of the Single Market is hampered by national regulations and out-dated legislation. The legal and physical infrastructure throughout the EU needs improvement and it is imperative that data can flow freely between Member States and into and out of the EU. Moreover, unless market failure is shown, new digital solutions should not be prohibitively regulated while rapid technological development is on-going.

The socio-economic benefits from free trade will not stop at the European borders. While it is important to remove the barriers remaining within the EU, the goal should be to minimize and preferably eliminate restrictions to trade in goods and services with third countries. Moreover, the EU has a central role in taking global leadership in promoting free trade, and, in the absence of multilateral agreements, in securing trade deals with our most important trading partners. This external dimension of the Single Market is necessary for the EU to be able to sustainably increase growth and create more jobs.

EU-wide legislation should be reserved for areas where it demonstrably provides added value. The principal of subsidiarity should be strictly applied. Any regulation must be necessary, proportional, and effective. These principles for improving regulations must apply to every EU institution that participates in legislation and be applied throughout the legislative process – including implementation and monitoring. The EU must set clear objectives for reducing the regulatory costs of business, increasing transparency, improving impact assessments of planned legislation and evaluating existing ones. These objectives must be monitored moreconsistently and effectively.

Climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of our time. It calls for a strong international commitment and global solutions. The EU plays an important role under the Paris Agreement within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. If the EU raises its level of ambition without similar action by other countries, the competitiveness of European business could be undermined and, thus, their ability to contribute to a better environment globally. It is of great importance that European companies can compete on equal terms with their global competitors.

A Social Europe can only be built with high employment levels laying the foundation for better living conditions. This cannot be achieved through additional EU level social regulations, but through competitive companies and healthy economies in all the Member States. The EU has a responsibility to stimulate national reforms that contribute to increasing employment levels. Given the wide variation socially, economically and institutionally across the EU and the need for attention to national context, social policy should essentially remain a national competence. Benchmarking within the framework of the European Semester may be a way for the EU to promote positive progress in the Member States.

The EUs role as a catalyst for competitiveness-enhancing national reforms can be strengthened in other areas as well. By benchmarking Member States’ different solutions, the EU can stimulate the exchange of ideas and spread of best practice. Europe’s diversity is a competitive advantage that should be better utilized.

News

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A framework for free flow of non-personal data in the European Union

COMMENT The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise welcomes this regulation with its aim to ensure the free data flow within the European Union. Europe can no longer afford to keep the Digital Single Market held back by protectionism and fragmentation, says Göran Norén, Head of Department, Industrial Affairs, and Carolina Brånby, Digital Policy expert.
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Nordic labour market models and the Social Pillar – complementary or colliding?

SOCIAL PILLAR The Nordic employer organizations organised a seminar in Brussels where invited representatives from the EU institutions, industry and trade union discussed their views on the Social Pillar taking into account the Nordic labour market models.
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Connected consumers: risk or opportunity?

New technology and data-driven innovation create new business models and services that enable companies to help their customers by adjusting their products and become more relevant. At the same time, access to and analysis of data challenges the personal integrity and the view of how integrity should best be safeguarded. How shall development of new services and personalisation be balanced with demands of personal integrity? Do consumers have access to relevant information? And who is responsible for what?
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Business and politics hand in hand to solve environmental challenges

The world and humanity are facing some of our greatest challenges. More people are using more natural resources. Fish stocks are running the risk of extinction, freshwater resources are far from adequate, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing and biodiversity is becoming depleted. Never before has a creature been able to affect our planet to the extent humanity does today.All of this constitutes major challenges - but there is hope for our future. And many solutions can be found within the business community.
 
NEWS Published:

The recipe for a competitive EU

The success of the EU’s can be measured largely in the level of exchange in goods, services, people, and capital. The complete implementation of the Single Market is key. Much remains to be done in many areas, such as the free movement of services and labour, eliminating restrictive national processes, regulations and standards, and ensuring that common legislation is applied uniformly and consistently. As long as barriers to the four freedoms remain, European competitiveness will continue to be held back.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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Close the ecocycle – recycling is better than burning

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.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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”.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.