The EU: Competitiveness issues

Issues relating to the competitiveness of the EU fall within the responsibility of the Competitiveness Council. The Government attaches great importance to measures to increase freedom of movement in the internal market. The internal market with free movement for goods, services and persons needs to be strengthened and modernised. If the jobs of the future are to be created in Europe, the EU must be at the forefront of digital developments.

More about the Competitiveness Council on the Council of the European Union website

EU internal market one of the cornerstones of cooperation

The internal market is one of the cornerstones of EU cooperation and aims to create free movement of goods, services, people and capital.

The internal market provides tangible benefits in the form of a greater selection of goods and services at more competitive prices. It should be easy to move capital across national borders and people must naturally be able to move freely for study or work without any unnecessary or complicated barriers.

Single market strategy for goods and services

A relaunch of the single market is one of the European Commission's main priorities, which is why it has launched the single market strategy for goods and services.

The strategy represents the most important event in the single market area, as it takes a new approach by linking up the goods and services areas, as well as aspects that are important for the development of the digital economy. The three overarching objectives of the strategy are to:

  • Create opportunities for consumers and companies (by facilitating balanced development of the sharing economy, helping SMEs and newly started companies to grow, creating a market for services without barriers, counteracting restrictions in retail and preventing discrimination under Article 20 of the Services Directive).
  • Encourage modernisation and innovation (through modernisation of the standardisation system, more transparent, efficient and reliable public procurement, and consolidation of the European framework for intellectual property).
  • Ensure practical delivery (through a strengthened culture of compliance and smart application of single market regulations, an improved effect of the Services Directive through reform of the notification procedure, and a strengthened single market for goods).

Sweden welcomes, as a whole, the Communication from the European Commission on the strategy and shares the Commission's opinion on the importance of taking measures to promote and strengthen the EU single market so as to create effective and efficient cross-border trade of goods and services for companies and consumers.

More about the Single Market Act on the European Commission website

A strategy for a digital single market in Europe

In 2015, the European Commission also presented a communication about a strategy for a European digital single market. The strategy contains 16 key measures aimed at getting the European single market and free movement to work efficiently also in an increasingly connected and digital economy. The three overarching objectives of the strategy are to:

  • Improve access to digital goods and services for consumers and companies.
  • Create good conditions for digital networks and services to flourish.
  • Maximise growth potential for our European digital economy.

Sweden welcomes, as a whole, the Communication from the European Commission on the strategy for a European digital single market. The Government is working to ensure that initiatives in the strategy for a European digital single market result in a market in which European companies can grow and create jobs and sustainable growth, and that they support digital developments and innovative business models.

Where Sweden is concerned, measures in the services area and the digital single market are top priorities, in particular in sectors with the highest potential for growth and cross-border trade within the EU.

Modernisation of copyright

In December 2015, the Commission presented a proposal for a modernised copyright regime. The Government's standpoint is that selective measures should be considered where necessary, rather than far-reaching harmonisation or fundamental changes of the regulatory framework. The EU should strive for tailored solutions that strengthen the digital single market without prejudicing the possibility of services adapted to national needs deriving from linguistic, cultural or other conditions.

It is reasonable, from a single market perspective, that consumers who subscribe to digital services should have better opportunities to use them outside their home countries as well. In addition, it is important that any future initiative is well-balanced and safeguards the interests of both copyright holders and users. Europe must be able to offer copyright protection that guarantees the development of an innovative creative sector. For Sweden, it is important to monitor that the proposals do not negatively impact the effective domestic system with collective licences.

Long-term sustainable European industry policy is important

The aim of the EU’s industrial policy is to create the best possible conditions for competitiveness and good framework conditions for the business sector.

Sweden is working to achieve a cross-sector and sustainable European industrial policy. As part of these efforts, Sweden is pushing for good framework conditions for companies. Important themes in this work are sustainability, energy and resource efficiency, the application of the principles of smart legislation and the strengthening of efforts for small businesses. Sweden is working for free trade and openness in the EU’s internationalisation efforts.

More about EU industrial policy on the European Parliament website

Research policy to strengthen the EU’s scientific and technological foundations

The EU and its Member States have shared competence in the area of research and innovation. The aim of this policy is to strengthen the EU’s scientific and technological foundations by establishing a European Research Area, with free movement for researchers, scientific findings and technology, and by promoting the development of the EU’s competitiveness. The EU’s financial contributions in this area are channelled via a special framework programme.

The EU framework programme for research and innovation is called Horizon 2020, and runs from 2014 to 2020.  Sweden’s contribution to ensuring that Horizon 2020 is implemented effectively is primarily made through the work of the programme committees and the drafting of their two-year work programmes. Representatives of the Swedish Government Offices and government agencies are members of the programme committees, which are led by the European Commission.

More about Horizon 2020 on the European Commission website