On June 3rd, at the annual Forum for the European Forum of Northern Sweden (EFNS), the EFNS adopted two position papers. One of the papers proposes measures for how northern Sweden contributes to the EU's green transition, with industrial transformation planned in line with regional innovation systems and smart specialisation strategies. The second suggests that the EU's growth-creating efforts in small labour markets (SME’s) should be based on methodological development to support entrepreneurship and innovation capacity in sparsely populated areas.
EFNS is a network for politicians at local and regional level in northern Sweden from Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Jämtland Härjedalen and Västernorrland. For more than 20 years, EFNS has offered a meeting place where Sweden's four northernmost regions together monitor and take a stand on important issues with a clear link to EU level policy and legislation.
Europaforum Northern Sweden’s views of the Green Industrial Transition in EU regions
The EU's ambition is to limit climate impact through a green transition. The European Green Deal sets out the overall growth strategy that is put into practice in, for example, the EU Industrial Strategy, the EU Strategy for SMEs, the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Critical Raw Materials Action Plan. These strategic documents set out the EU's ambitions - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. The regions of northern Sweden have been targets for large industrial investments due to the increased global demand for sustainable processes and products, and the availability of green energy, combined with a strong innovation system, that has attracted companies to locate their production and development in northern Sweden.
That is why the EFNS welcomes the high ambitions set by the EU and the confidence that European companies have gained in leading the green industrial transition and proposes the following:
- Strengthening of the long-term capacity building in the regions so that they can receive large industrial projects of European interest.
- Examining synergies between EU industrial development actions and site-based support measures, for example under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), are being explored.
- The planning of industrial transformation measures in line with regional innovation systems and smart specialisation strategies.
Europaforum Northern Sweden's views on the EU's growth-creating efforts in small labour markets
EFNS wants to invite the EU to the knowledge arena for method development of regional policy initiatives that Northern Sweden can represent. For over 20 years, the network has gathered experience for an effective growth policy adapted to northern Sweden's specific conditions where the global market mechanisms affecting Europe's regions become clear in sparsely populated regions, but especially in the extremely sparsely populated areas of northern Europe.
The region can be a testing area for innovative regional policy measures, says the EFNS, with a focus on strengthening the attractiveness of research and entrepreneurship. In the light of the analyses and recommendations carried out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), there are prerequisites for developing the application of innovative regional policy tools.
The EFNS proposes that methodological development should be based on:
- Promote a testing framework for tailored policy applications in line with OECD analyses and recommendations.
- Design and apply more ground-based policies for economic growth, education, skills supply and innovation.
- Strengthen the link between regional urban and rural areas.
- Invest in digital and transport infrastructure.
- Address territorial market failures.
- Support entrepreneurship and innovation capacity in sparse environments.
- Harness the potential for green transition.
Furthermore, the EFNS believes that the establishment of regional policy tools with this focus has the potential to revitalise Europe's small labour markets and thus the effect can be to develop and streamline the internal market.
Read the EFNS position on the Green Industrial Transition here
Read the EFNS position on the EU's growth-creating efforts in small labour markets here
Read all EFNS position documents here