Swedish Enterprise about the Green Deal

NEWS Published

EU – There are several elements contained in the initiative that will be important for Swedish industry, says Lina Håkansdotter, Head of Sustainability and Infrastructure.

Lina Håkansdotter

Lina Håkansdotter, Head of Sustainability and Infrastructure.

The new EU Commission has recently launched an initiative that aims to make the EU the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050. To achieve this, the Commission has unveiled a package of measures which it calls the European ‘Green Deal’. This package is designed to facilitate the transition to a sustainable green economy for the benefit of both Europe’s citizens and businesses.

However, what does Swedish Enterprise have to say about the Green Deal? We asked Lina Håkansdotter, Head of Sustainability and Infrastructure, a few questions.

Why is this initiative important?
– EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has stated that climate change is one of the EU's top priorities for the future. The Green Deal is a way of demonstrating its commitment. The Green Deal brings together a number of initiatives, which will be developed over the coming years, in the areas of environment, energy and climate. The most frequently discussed issues cover the EU's long-term climate neutrality target for 2050, a climate law, the ambition to raise the climate neutrality target by 2030 and a plan for a circular economy.

What does the Green Deal mean for Sweden and the Swedish business community?
– There are several elements contained in the initiative that will be important for Swedish industry. Setting a long-term goal of climate neutrality provides a clear basis when companies are making strategic decisions. It is important that the industrial strategy is linked to the climate target - competitive companies are a prerequisite for reducing the EU’s climate emissions.

– There will also be an action plan for a circular economy, something we at the Swedish Confederation welcome, particularly given EU-based initiatives in this area. We currently conduct a great deal of trade within the internal market; common guidelines and requirements are a prerequisite for closing the existing linear economic flows.

What does the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise think?
– We see it as positive that the EU wants to take a holistic approach to the climate issue. It is not a question of either achieving reduced emissions or growing the economy within the EU, we must both manage. Currently, it remains unclear what the concrete proposals will be, and there remains a risk that the policy will be more symbolic than action oriented.

– Also, competitiveness is crucial – we must avoid inefficient policies. It will cost a considerable amount of money to convert to climate neutrality; how such investments will be financed is far from clear. There are also proposals for a ”Just Transition Fund”, which will provide for redistribution of money to help those countries that still have a long way to go in terms of achieving emission reductions. Clearly, we must show solidarity within the EU, but this will be a balancing act. Confidence must be maintained in those countries that have done their homework and started on this journey, already having reduced their emissions; it must not reward those who have chosen to ”lie on the sofa and do nothing”.

– In terms of the circular economy action plan, we are positive about many of the proposals set out to date in both the Green Deal and the roadmap. However, the action plan must be synchronised with other policies and regulations; how this will be done in a positive fashion remains unclear.

Would you and the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise want to adjust or change the Green Deal in any way? If so, how?
– It is still too early to comment on what aspects may need to be changed or adjusted. The European Commission’s Green Deal came just before Christmas. It shows a level of ambition in the field, but as yet there are no concrete proposals for a Directive or similar initiatives. The spring should see proposals for climate legislation; we insist that this establishes a clear link between competitiveness and climate goals. The industrial strategy will come in March; here it will be important to identify the role of companies and industry in reducing climate emissions, both within and outside the EU. When the circular economy action plan is presented together with the industrial strategy in March, then we will analyse the measures outlined.