France and Sweden will cooperate on green innovation

Opinion piece published in Dagens Nyheter 16 November, by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Following the challenges of recent years, we are now seeing a much-needed debate about the kind of Europe we should have in the future. We welcome this debate, and have each laid out our visions in speeches delivered at two of the oldest and greatest European universities, the Sorbonne in Paris and the University of Uppsala.

We both believe in a strong and united Europe, and in the possibility of the EU leading the world forward in a time of great transition and uncertainty. We know that when we work together as Europeans, we can deliver better solutions to reduce unemployment, increase growth, improve working conditions and gender equality, fight climate change, achieve a sustainable and equitable migration policy, and increase security for our citizens.

One key area on which we are committed to doing more is the social dimension: how we can create more jobs, how we ensure that people obtain the knowledge and skills needed to do the new jobs that are emerging, and how we can achieve fair working conditions that foster mobility without leading to lower wages and unfair competition. These themes will be discussed at the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg.

We have both worked hard to bring about an improved Posting of Workers Directive that guarantees equal pay for work of equal value, regardless of where workers come from. It should no longer be possible to compete on the basis of unfair conditions or wage-dumping. But this is not enough – we want to continue to pursue efforts for a fair labour market, and the Social Summit in Gothenburg is an important step towards fulfilling the European promise of shared prosperity.

We will also discuss how to achieve increased growth in Europe. The Single Market is one of our greatest assets, but it needs to be developed. We must set the bar high – the EU must become the most dynamic market, where we compete with the sharpest skills, the best products, the smartest innovations, and the greenest technologies.

We are convinced that the judicious management of one of the most crucial issues of our time – climate change – can bring new opportunities for jobs and growth for France, for Sweden and for Europe.

Both our countries have set ambitious targets to live up to the Paris Agreement. The One Planet climate summit to be held in Paris on 12 December will focus on promoting concrete and innovative solutions to increase the pace. France has drawn up a Climate Plan that includes ending sales of fossil-fuel cars by 2040 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. In Sweden, the Government is guided by a target of becoming one of the world's first fossil-free welfare nations, with a sub-target of reducing emissions from the transport sector by at least 70 per cent by 2030. Sweden also aims to be carbon-neutral by 2045. These are ambitious targets, and show that we are prepared to shoulder our responsibilities. This is not just an act of altruism; these targets are also a means of securing the long-term competitiveness of our economies.

Now we want to take our cooperation further. Sweden and France are world leaders in the area of green innovation and will contribute to the transition to a more sustainable society. The countries and companies that are first to showcase their solutions will not only increase their competitiveness, they will also lay the foundations for the export successes and new jobs of tomorrow. To this end, France and Sweden will today sign a strategic partnership for innovation and green solutions.

This partnership will build on the innovative capacities of our industries, start-ups, academic communities and public sectors in four areas: developing green solutions to power our transport and our cities; boosting 'green finance' mechanisms; promoting healthier lifestyle choices for our citizens through medical and environmental innovations; and leveraging the world-class expertise of our digital companies and start-ups in this transition.

Public and private stakeholders will be fully involved and mobilised to implement the actions and projects set out in the operational roadmap of the partnership. Our ambition is to present concrete progress in two years.

We are convinced that our French-Swedish innovation partnership will create considerable value for our citizens, and contribute to a more innovative, greener European Union.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven

French President Emmanuel Macron