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Which enforcement barriers are hurting Nordic businesses?

  • Published 21/10/2013
This study summarizes the main findings from a previous Nordic Innovation study, Delivering a stronger Single Market (2012) and identifies the areas which have the largest impact upon Nordic business. The areas identified is the Service directive, mutual recognition and public procurement.


The Nordic region is particularly competitive in services, transport, food, green technology, communication services and equipment, machinery and health care services including pharmaceuticals. This leads to high exports in these industries which generates jobs and brings wealth to the region. Barriers to exports in these industries are thus particularly harmful for growth and wealth creation. We find evidence that a subset of these industries namely services, transport, food and green technology are facing barriers due to EU legislation that is not being applied as intended. For example, the existing public pro-curement directives ought to pave the way for non-discrimination between domestic and Foreign Service providers. Yet, it is not always the case, which an example of emergency service provider Falck demonstrates. 

By taking the lead and push for better enforcement of existing EU legislation within these targeted industries in the other EU countries, the Nordic countries will directly strengthen the competitiveness of its businesses eventually leading to higher economic wealth. However, what is at least as interesting, but often overlooked, is that pushing for better enforcement within the Nordic region may indirectly increase economic wealth creation. The reason is that a level playing field in the Nordic countries provides a 'training' ground for Nordic businesses sharpening their offerings and production processes, stimulating innovation and supporting the build-up of larger businesses to name a few. This allows them to better compete in the EU – barriers or not – and even more importantly, to compete globally.