Report: Making the EU Safer, Greener, more Competitive and Digitalised

International trade contributes to economic security in peacetime and is a lifeline in times of war and crisis.

Anders Ahnlid Director-General

anders ahnlid

Trade policy can contribute to make the EU safer, greener, more competitive and digitalised. The National Board of Trade Sweden has structured trade policy recommendations to the new European Commission around these four areas.

Director General Anders Ahnlid, what is the National Board of Trade Sweden’s most important message to the new Commission?

International trade contributes to economic security in peacetime and is a lifeline in times of war and crisis. We face many challenges, including geopolitical conflicts, climate change and increasing protectionism; international trade plays a vital role in countering their negative effects.

Experts from the National Board of Trade Sweden have described problems and given recommendations related to four areas. What are the recommendations specifically linked to Trade for Security?

One is that the European Commission must ensure that the EU’s global competitiveness is not undermined by excessive investment screening. Of course, the EU must consider the new security risks that we are facing, but we want to emphasise that this must not be at the expense of the benefits that legitimate direct foreign investment brings, such as increased productivity and innovation. This is something that is important to our long-term security.

How can the new Commission make European companies more competitive?

One recommendation is to remove all MFN-tariffs on raw materials, intermediate goods and components. This would increase resilience and transparency and reduce the administrative burden on EU companies, as well as on Member State authorities.

Another recommendation is to consider the impact on trading partners during the Commission’s legislative processes. This would prevent technical barriers to trade (TBTs) from arising, which facilitates trading with the EU. Another recommendation is to reduce companies’ administrative costs that occurs as a result of new EU legislation.

The National Board of Trade Sweden has pointed out, in a number of reports, that trade policy can play a significantly greater role in climate adaption. What can the new Commission do to speed up this work?

One recommendation is that the Commission work towards a multilateral agreement in the WTO on prohibiting fossil fuel subsidies, as these increase emissions and distort trade. Another recommendation is that the Commission should work both bilaterally and multilaterally to improve market access for green services.

When it comes to digitalisation, what more can the new Commission do?

The Commission needs to strengthen its impact assessments before presenting new EU legislation in the digital area. For example, the Commission should consider how proposed legislation will affect EU companies and their suppliers, to avoid the EU being dismissed as a potential trading partner.

Finally, what do you hope the new Commission will tackle first in terms of trade policy?

First and foremost, the Commission must ensure that future EU trade policy is evidence-based and in line with international commitments, especially the WTO agreements. Trade policy should also contribute to an open, transparent and inclusive trading system that promotes sustainable trade and trade cooperation with countries outside the EU, not least developing countries.

What is the National Board of Trade Sweden?

The National Board of Trade is the Swedish government agency for international trade, the EU internal market and trade policy. Our mission is to facilitate free and open trade with transparent rules as well as free movement in the EU internal market. We provide the Swedish Government with independent analyses, reports and policy recommendations and take into account the views of businesses of all sizes in international trade policy-related matters.