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The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise on Nordic cooperation

| Text: Fayme Alm

How does the Nordic cooperation on the employers' side look today? The Nordic Labour Journal asked the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise to answer a list of questions and got the following answers from their Press Secretary Olle Bring.

Nordic Labour Journal: How well does the Nordic/European/international cooperation between employers’ organisations work? 

Confederation of Swedish Enterprise: It works well. The formal cooperation is mainly Nordic but also happens on a European and international level at slightly longer intervals. On a Nordic level, we formally meet once a year while there is continuous cooperation on many issues. Other levels of cooperation are more informal.

NLJ: Is the cooperation formalised, and in which case how?

CSE: There is both formal and informal cooperation, depending on the issues at hand. Regular meetings and exchange of information between our member organisations is a tradition that goes all the way back to the 1920s.

NLJ: What issues do the organisations collaborate on? 

CSE: Most things within our role as business and employer organisations.  

NLJ: What limits are there to the cooperation?

CSE: The operational conditions of our member companies and the tasks they assign to us.

NLJ: What impact has the fact that Norway and Iceland are outside of the EU had on the cooperation?

CSE: In addition to cooperating with us, a tradition that dates back longer than the EU (see above), they operate within the mechanisms of the Agreement on the European Economic Area and exert influence that way. Both countries have a significant presence in Brussels, as do their business communities.

NLJ: Are the Nordic employers’ organisations more different from each other than what the central trade unions are?

CSE: We are not in a position to judge that. 

NLJ: Are the Nordic employers’ organisations becoming more similar or more dissimilar?

CSE: The biggest difference is that NHO, EK and SN have a broader mandate than DA and SA* – which are pure employers’ organisations. Beyond that, our work is influenced by institutional conditions and, regarding employer issues, by the development of our counterparts. 

NLJ: How is the cooperation affected by the fact that differences within the Nordic business sector are so different – the Swedish internationalised manufacturing companies, Norway's partially state-owned raw material-dependent industries, and Denmark with a higher proportion of small and medium-sized enterprises?

CSE: We have great opportunities to learn from each other since labour market regulations in all of the countries are mainly built on negotiations with limited state interference. 

NLJ: The Nordic contribution to a green transition for the social partners primarily focuses on ensuring that the transition is fair. If it is not, there will be less support in society. The Iceland conference is about solving this through tripartite cooperation, with the participation of governments. However, it has proven difficult to produce a common document that can be signed. What could be the reasons for this?

CSE: We are used to change and adaptation in our economies and already have structures to handle this, regardless of the cause. This is due to our approach to change, which is generally also embraced by our counterparts because sustainable businesses can provide favourable conditions while individuals get support if they are made redundant. In Sweden, we cooperate closely with the trade unions.

NLJ: Employers seem to prefer working with BusinessEurope, where Norwegian NHO and Icelandic SI also are members. Is that correct? Right now, the organisation is run by a Swede, Fredrik Persson. How does the contact between the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and BusinessEurope work?

CSE: BusinessEurope is a very good and highly regarded business organisation with which we collaborate extensively. It is membership-based and works on behalf of its members. In addition to serving on the board and executive committee, members also actively engage in policy committees and working groups, among other activities. It is true that Fredrik Persson is the Chairman of BusinessEurope. He is a very capable person who has previously served as the Chairman of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, so we are naturally familiar with him. 

*NHO – Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise; EK – Confederation of Finnish Industries; SN – Confederation of Swedish Enterprise; DA – Confederation of Danish Employers; SA – Confederation of Icelandic Employers


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