“The EU is of vital importance to Sweden. That’s why Swedish business must be even more active in our efforts to influence the EU and with our presence in Brussels,” said Alfa Laval CEO Tom Erixon in introductory remarks he made at a meeting in Strasbourg earlier this spring.
At the meeting, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, together with its Nordic sister organisations, brought together MEPs and company representatives from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, also spoke at the meeting. There was a high level of interest among participants and it was prominent that Nordic co-operation remains robust.
Erixon, talking from a Swedish business perspective, stressed that business has long been positive about effective EU co-operation with the Single Market and free movement at its heart. Erixon hence believes that the business community must stick to a fundamentally EU-positive approach, while at the same time ensuring that the EU focuses on the right areas.
There are currently a large number of proposals [emerging from Brussels] that do not align with the nordic values nor are business friendly, Tom Erixon continues.
– The key to ensuring that the EU goes in the right direction is, in part, greater involvement from the business community itself. Since the EU is so important to Sweden, to our business climate and to our prosperity, our commitment must also increase. The business community must be more interested in EU policy and get involved earlier in the decision-making processes. Businesses can contribute by explaining the realities we face and our perspectives to European decision-makers. Through networking and knowledge sharing, we can contribute to improvements that benefit companies and the entire EU, Erixon explained.
The green and digital transitions are high on the EU agenda and permeate most EU initiatives. Erixon, who also is Vice President of Swedish Enterprise and Chairman of the Association of Swedish Engineering Industries, said that it is businesses that de facto drive development and that it is obvious where investmest will take place .
– It takes a long time to change energy and transport systems. Research and technological development will address climate issues, but we need a ten-year perspective. At Alfa Laval, we’ve developed innovative solutions that are used to purify, refine and reuse materials and natural resources. These solutions contribute to improved energy efficiency and heat recovery, streamlined water purification and reduced emissions. I see similar innovations in many other European companies and believe that a technology-optimistic view of development is the right way forward.
This is where EU decision-makers must increase their understanding of how business works and contribute with strong regulatory improvements and better conditions for business in the long-term.
– The role of politics is to provide frameworks, not to control activity. As businesses, we often do not know ourselves what the next groundbreaking innovation is or which technology is best-suited for developing new solutions. That’s why the EU must set the rules of the game, but not over-regulate, regulate in detail or control innovation. Creating better long-term conditions for businesses and encouraging collaborations supports more sustainable and more positive development.EU