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Quinyx Happy workforce – Happy Business

The Chamber meets Sam Mirson, Country Manager Quinyx Netherlands, for an interview for Swedish Chamber Annual Review 2019.

  The Quinyx story began in 2005, when Erik Fjellborg Founder & CEO, was flipping burgers at McDonald’s in Örebro at the age of 17. He noticed that there were problems with scheduling the shifts for the personnel and he developed an idea that wouldn’t just change his life, but would change the lives’ of millions of people around the globe. In 2007 he had created Quinyx, a workforce management system recently named one of the top 50 super-scaleups in Europe. In 2019 Quinyx opened their office in Amsterdam. Now they have offices in 8 countries: Sweden, UK, Finland, Germany, Norway, Denmark, and the US, and customers in around 40 different countries. The urgency for workforce management Millions of people are working on an hourly basis around the world. Sectors like hospitality, logistics, healthcare, retail and other service industries are currently employing over 1.5 billion people worldwide. People who work uncomfortable hours, earn minimum wages, have no say and experience a huge lack of trust, as well as lack of flexibility – in industries where it is needed the most. This is the field where Quinyx wants to make a difference. Creating a happy workforce, creates a happy business.  Sam Mirson, Country Manager at Quinyx Netherlands explains how they make a difference: “Quinyx supports business from bottom up. I think this is a Swedish mentality if you look internationally. We empower the employees by improving their work lives. Because an engaged workforce, according to Gallup, is 20% more productive. People who enjoy their work will grow, develop, provide better customer service, and create a successful business.”   Everything in one place Quinyx makes labor-intensive processes easy. With a 4.5 score in the App-store and Google ratings they are the best in class. Sam Mirson “We invest heavily in our product, all the money that Quinyx makes we put back into the product, so the product is evolving very quickly. It’s more than managing schedules or time registrations, the AI-forcasting, and integration to external salary systems are important features for businesses.”   The value of data Artificial intelligence feeds on the amount of data, with 800 clients, 500.000 active users and 14 million app logins per month Quinyx has a lot of data on how people interact with work. Sam Mirson: “This is really interesting to look at, for example how much people look at their schedules, applying for leave, giving notice of interest to take shifts and swapping shifts with each other. You can compare your own data or with data from other companies to optimize for better results. The data gives really good insights. If we see that in the Amsterdam area, a lot of people are applying for sick leave on the app it can help other customers to prepare for that by saying that they might have a 90% chance that somebody will call in sick next Monday. Then they can make the decision to call in an extra shift”. Flexibility is key Research in the Netherlands showed that the number one reason why people leave their jobs is lack of flexibility. With 54% the percentage is much higher than any other countries in Europe. Followed by career progression and salary at third place. Sam Mirson: “If we look at the data, temporary employments in the Netherlands is at 21,5% which is 85% higher than the rest of Europe according to OECD. In the Netherlands 55% of the people aged 15 to 24 have a temporary contract. And that is also quite high but people here seem ok with it because only 6.3% of those are involuntary.” This is why we make things easier for the managers with our app. For example, with the shift swaps. They can push a button and see who is available with the right skills, and possible within HR regulations within a second. And we can also enable to punch in and out at more places when a company has multiple locations”   The answer to laws and regulations “At Quinyx we have the highest standards of security. With banks and government institutions as customers, you can imagine how important this is. Quinyx is compliant with all the GDPR-related (AVG) and personal data security regulations. It is only the encrypted data that you can use in comparisons and research. When it comes to compliances in the Netherlands it helps us being from the Nordics because our labor laws are quite similar. There are also changes in the Netherlands because of the new WAB rules that came into force the first of January this year. We are fully compliant to those new regulations.” Clients & Partners Quinyx is working with many global brands in the Netherlands such as Rituals, Hanos, Swarovski, Flying Tiger and many more. Sam Mirson explains their strategy: “We work very tightly with partners. We collaborate with sales & marketing activities so we can introduce our customers to each other. Organizing lunch & learns to inspire business for example. And we use some partners with the implementations so they can leverage on our success. We are open to expand even more with partners to generate more local presence.” The benefits for customers “We save at least 50% of admin time for our customers. So just saving that time, if you translate those hours into money, because those hours are still utilized, but into more productive tasks than scheduling. So that helps our customers to earn more money. We also see that the employee engagement goes up with 10% across all our customers and that employee engagement is translating into 5% percent more sales. We see a reduction in 12% on payroll costs when you start using Quinyx and you are able to reduce sick leave because you actually co-create the schedule with your employees.” Sustainability policies With the green movement in full swing, what is the Quinyx policy for Sustainability? Sam Mirson: “We have sustainability policies at Quinyx. For example, we do a lot of video conferences instead of meetings in person. And when you have to travel we use the train if possible instead of the plain to reduce the carbon footprint. In our social updates we motivate each other to calculate how much CO2 emissions we saved.”   By Johanna Lund and Kerstin Gerlagh, Swedish Chamber of Commerce Annual Review 2019   Welcome to read more Member interviews in Annual Review 2019 https://swedishchamber.nl/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/2020_Annual-Review-2019_FINAL.pdf  
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Words of the Chairman
AT THE MOMENT of writing my Words we acknowledge that this is a stressful and concerning time for many due to the prevailing situation around the infectious virus Corona, covid-19/2019-nCoV. Although it is hard to measure the impact of this pandemic, the experts agree that it is safe to say that the hit to the global health situation and global economy is already severe. We would like to do our very best to support all our members and your business in the best way we can. Unfortunately, this means that we had to decide to cancel some of our events, however, as soon as the situation has stabilized and things are under control again, we hope to have them back on our agenda very soon.   Ranked no. 4 in the world by Forbes’ “Best Countries for Business”, the Netherlands is truly a world-class business destination. The Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands are excited to operate in this international environment and to help Swedish companies with an interest to expand their business on the Dutch market by connecting them to our existing business networks to help them grow their business. We are also pleased to offer an excellent Mentorship Program for Young Professionals in the NL and a Women Business Leadership Program allowing female leaders to thrive. For 2019, The Swedish Chamber of Commerce is looking back on a very successful year with many highlights, new useful business networks and business opportunities for our members. Moving office to Epicenter Amsterdam and starting a serious collaboration with the Epicenter founders and team has made it possible for the Chamber to realize inspiring and innovative events together. This also made it possible to connect the Epicenter tech community to the Swedish Chamber members for mutual benefits and new collaborations. Our contemporary office space represents the new trend of an open and transparent Chamber where everyone is welcome, and we are happy to connect and help companies in any way we can to grow. I would like to extend our sincere thanks to Honorary Chairwoman, H.E. Ambassador Annika Markovic and her team for the great collaborations which have made it possible to organize Summits together with an impact on topics such as Circular Economy, Gender balance, and Tech Bridge Sweden – Netherlands – Women in Tech, enabling us to highlight Swedish values and creating new collaborations on different levels from governments to entrepreneurs. Another important and inspiring partnership is the #NordicTalks together with our Nordic Chamber colleagues. This year the #NordicTalks presented a very inspiring AI Summit featuring speakers from Ericsson, Microsoft, Rockstar and many more tech companies on the edge of innovation. The very good collaboration between Sweden and the Netherlands was this year again visible by an invitation from Prince Daniel of Sweden to Prince Constantijn, TechLeap, to visit Stockholm to find out more about the Swedish Startup and Tech ecosystem and a visit by State Secretary Mona Keizer for the same reason a few months later. The Swedish Chamber is proud that our Startup Summit in May 2018 has continued to inspire and encourage collaborations and knowledge exchange and created new business possibilities for the Startup eco systems in our two countries.  Last but not least I would like to thank all our members for the fruitful collaborations, fantastic sponsoring and support which has made it possible for the Swedish Chamber to once again present a fantastic business program with nearly 1400 participants at the different events throughout the year. This year the Swedish Chamber of Commerce is celebrating 60 years anniversary in the Netherlands. Founded in 1960 – by business and for business – we have represented, inspired and promoted our members, extended commercial relations between our countries, and delivered first-class services and events for 60 years! It is through our collective effort that we make the Chamber dynamic and diverse and what makes it possible to connecting Swedish and Dutch companies and to form the ultimate business platform. Sweden and the Netherlands celebrate centuries of friendship and trade, and our business and political spheres are tightly interlinked as a result of it. On November 19, 2020* we are therefore celebrating the Swedish-Dutch 60 year’s Anniversary Summit and Gala Dinner about 21st century innovation and leadership, bringing together business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians and academics from both Sweden and the Netherlands to address the greater trends facing us, from tech to climate change, the future workforce and global trade.The Anniversary year will be highlighted on November 19, 2020 but throughout the whole year we are underlining the anniversary and the good relations between Sweden and the Netherlands. We cordially thank the exclusive 60th Year Anniversary sponsors for making our Anniversary year possible and we welcome all our members and relations to take part in the celebrations and inspiring programs during the year and to take the opportunity to highlight your company, products and services. Finally, I would like to share the strong values of IKEA which, in my opinion, resonates very well with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce. The IKEA values are: Togetherness, cost consciousness, renew and improve, give and take responsibility, caring for people and planet, simplicity, different with a meaning.“Most things remain to be done. Glorious future!” — Ingvar KampradYours sincerely, Ehsan Turabaz Chairman *Due to the Corona Pandemic the Swedish Chamber of Commerce 60th Anniversary Celebration will be postponed until Q1 2021.
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The Chamber meets Jon Abrahamsson, newly appointed CEO of Inter IKEA Group
First of all, we would like to congratulate you with your appointment - How do you feel? “I’m very happy! It’s really a fantastic opportunity and a dream come true. We have such a strong heritage to stand on, and there are so many opportunities out there. It could not have happened at a better time. Under Torbjörn Lööf’s leadership, we took steps to complement our traditional stores with more city-centre stores, online shopping, home delivery and assembly. Going forward we will continue this work. We want to make IKEA affordable for many more people, and we want to make IKEA more accessible for many more people. At the same time we want to help many more people to live a more sustainable life at home. Doing these three things together is a great opportunity for IKEA going forward. A lot of people across IKEA have already put in so much hard work to get this far. On top of that there has been a lot of work to structure and set up an even more solid franchise system that we can continue to build on for many generations to come. So I think the table is set to continue that journey. Now we can develop even better products, find more clever solutions and create an even more rewarding customer meeting – in an even more sustainable way.  I think that’s when we’re at our best at IKEA. Through innovation, constant improvements and occasional fundamental changes, we can create more sustainable products at better prices. We have lots of good examples already: board-on-frame coffee tables, affordable low-energy bulbs and – coming soon – plant balls in our restaurants and Swedish food markets. The ingredients have just 4% the climate footprint of a traditional meatball, it tastes better, and it comes at a lower price. There’s a lot to like about that example. If you create something more sustainable and raise the price, people can’t afford it. So you limit its impact. And if you make something affordable at the expense of sustainability, it doesn’t help anyone either. To be successful long-term, you have to put affordability and sustainability together. That’s a lot of hard work! But we’re in a position to lead the way. For me it’s actually our duty. Our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people, and we do this by making our products both more affordable and more sustainable. Luckily we have the long-term view and structure to make it possible. We have 9,500 IKEA products, and our range is very focused. That means we get big volumes for every product. And we’re very focused on a limited number of products that you can combine in different ways. Today we’re looking at each step in the product life cycle – from raw materials through manufacture and distribution and finally to people’s homes. At each step we ask “what can we do differently to prolong its life?” With big volumes like ours, even a small change can make a big impact. This is not a sprint, and we need to set the right conditions for long-term growth. IKEA started in Sweden more than 75 years ago, then it expanded to the Nordics, Europe, North America and Asia. Today we’re in a little over fifty markets. Now we’re taking the natural step into South America with our partner Falabella, a South American multinational retail group. We’re working with them to open IKEA stores in Chile, Colombia and Peru. As I said earlier, we think a lot about the “back-end” when designing new products. The same goes for our stores and e-commerce. We need to have the back-end in place first. So opening stores on a new continent takes time. But we’ll soon be ready. These kinds of partnerships are key to our success. Our franchise model gives us a strategic advantage: a local anchor and a strong player who knows the market. Of course there is a long selection process to become an IKEA franchisee. We look for companies with good business- and investment capacity. More importantly – we look for companies that share our values. So we’re happy to partner now with Falabella. They’re a great match, and they know the South American market so much better than we do. This is the strength of our franchise system.” How do you implement the Swedish-based IKEA values into the new markets where you operate? “It’s a lot of hard work. And you’re never really done - you always have to work on it in one way or another. We were talking about it the other week here in the office. You can visit IKEA anywhere in the world and meet new people you can connect with right away. It all starts with the recruitment process and continues as people grow and develop within IKEA. Being close to or far from Sweden isn’t really the challenge – it’s the constant changes. So we have to nurture our culture and values in all parts of our business. Worldwide! The IKEA culture and value are our core strengths. We achieve this by being consistent about our culture and our vision. Our values have always been the backbone of IKEA, and of course it all started with our founder Ingvar Kamprad. Business and People together form our core values, and that’s how we run IKEA still today. Ingvar always talked about the importance of creating good conditions for everyone that works at IKEA. When you visited a store with Ingvar, he was always engaged with our co-workers. We were at the store at five o’clock in the morning because that was when the truck drivers arrived, and he wanted to know how they were doing. He wanted to make sure they got a sandwich and a place to sit and rest and refresh. And whenever we visited a store, we always visited the staff areas to see what they were like. Again – business and people together.” What does IKEA look like in 5 years? “We’ll be more affordable. We will lower our prices even more so that more people can afford us. This is still our number one goal. Our biggest hurdle is to be truly affordable in all parts of the world. For everyone, really. We’ll also be more accessible. Today our 436 store are a fantastic cornerstone of our customer experience. This year we had one billion visitors, and it’s still increasing. Our e-commerce share is 8% of our total sales, and we plan to continue to grow in all channels. And then of course we’re also testing new formats and smaller formats so we can be in even more places than just out by the big highways. In city centres, but also shopping centres and suburbs. We want to be where people are. Finally, we’ll be an even more sustainable business. IKEA is committed to make a positive difference on climate change. By 2030 our ambition is to reduce more greenhouse gas emissions than the IKEA value chain emits, while growing the IKEA business. We made a small step this year by reducing our climate footprint even as we continued to grow. Transforming IKEA into a circular business is one of our biggest ambitions and challenges for the future. It will impact the business in all aspects: from how we develop products and services, source materials, develop the IKEA supply chain, to how and where we meet our customers. This will enable us to prolong the life of products and materials. So five years from now we’ll be affordable for many more, we’ll be accessible for many more and we’ll do it all in an even more sustainable way. That I promise you.” You have been working with Ingvar Kamprad and of course he is the founder and icon of IKEA and even of Swedish industry. What have you learned from him and what kind of leader are you and how will you lead the way for the coming years? “Working with Ingvar was a fantastic opportunity, and I learned a lot from him. But there are two things in particular that super inspire me and I try to do a little bit of myself. One is that he was constantly curious. Curious all the time about everything actually! And of course he very quickly related it to IKEA. But he was really very interested about what was happening all over the world. He was also very curious about people. This nearly constant curiosity was really a very good skill. The second thing was that Ingvar was consistent about the big picture – yet he was always open to test, try and explore in the details. He created an amazing balance between consistency and renewal, and I do my best to do keep the same perspective. IKEA and the Swedish Chamber of Commerce collaboration We are very happy with the cooperation with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce here in the Netherlands and in many other places as well. There are two reasons for this. One is of course that it is a part of our Swedish heritage and a very good link and connection to Sweden that we value a lot. The second is based on my experience with IKEA in China and Canada, where the chamber provided great opportunities to meet a broad spectra of influencers. It’s a very good vehicle for us to meet other companies, academic resources and the public sector. That’s why I value this kind or cooperation so much.” We would like to let you know that the support from you is very important for the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands. And since this year, we are celebrating our 60 years anniversary of the Swedish Chamber and we are very happy and grateful that you are supporting this as Exclusive Sponsor together with Handelsbanken. By Kerstin Gerlagh and Josefina Lund   Welcome to read more Member interviews in the Swedish Chamber of Commerce Annual Review 2019 
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Thank you to Swedish Chamber Interns Spring 2020
The Swedish Chamber of Commerce would like to thank Josefina Lund, Linn Hodell and Lina Stackegård for their outstanding commitment and contribution to the Swedish Chambers activities during this extra ordinary and challenging spring with COVID-19 changing everything for us all. Due to the circumstances they had to adapt to working from home from one day to another and the Swedish Chamber is very impressed and grateful for the great work they have all been doing to transferring the Chamber's activities from life personal to digital and to monitor news and information in the Chambers Newsletters as well as on the Chambers social media channels. We wish Josefina, and Lina lots of success with their upcoming assignments and hope to meet again soon in Amsterdam or in Sweden.
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Swedish Chamber of Commerce AGM June 30, 2020
Invitation to the Swedish Chamber of Commerce 60th Annual General Meeting
- Zoom Meeting- to be held on Tuesday, June 30, 2020AGM from 10.00 10.30
10.30 - 11.15 Address by the H.E. Ambassador of Sweden Mrs. Annika Markovic and Panel discussion about how the COVID-19 pandemic has effected business and the expectations looking forward o.a. Johan Uhlin, Scania Production, Annika Hult, Stena Line, Ehsan Turabaz, Inter IKEA Systems 
Dear Members,
The Swedish Chamber of Commerce is very pleased to invite you to our 60th Annual General Meeting. The Swedish Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting will take place online and will  be held with an adjusted and shortened agenda and is followed by an address by H.E. Ambassador or Sweden Mrs Annika Markovic and a panel discussion by some of our leading Swedish businesses about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and their expectations for the near future. 
 for all documents to our forthcoming AGM available on our website: :
You will find the Swedish Chamber Financial Statements & Review Report in 9
Like in other years, the 2020 AGM is an important moment for the association. We therefore make a warm appeal to all Members to join us online on June 30, 2020.. Registration We kindly request all Members to register in advance. You are welcome to register digitally on our website or by sending an email to  if you plan to attend. All meeting details will be sent to you in advance.
Voting Procedure
During the AGM, the Members present will be asked to approve the Minutes of last year's AGM as well as the Financial Statements of 2019 and elect the Members of the Board. As we will be working with a modified voting procedure, we ask all Members to submit questions or comments with regard to the issues on our agenda in advance as much as possible - by email to . Instead of asking for approval by a raise of hands, we will include a small timeslot for Members to react via Chat. If no comments or objections come in, the topic at hand will be considered approved. We look forward to welcoming you on June 30, 2020 at our AGM Zoom meeting.
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AstraZeneca to supply Europe with up to 400 million doses of Oxford University’s potential COVID-19 vaccine

Company exploring further additional global capacity to provide broad and equitable access at no profit during the pandemic

We have reached an agreement with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), spearheaded by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, to supply up to 400 million doses of the University of Oxford’s potential COVID-19 vaccine, currently in clinical development. With today’s agreement, the IVA aims to accelerate the supply of the potential vaccine and to make it available to other European countries that wish to participate in the initiative. The IVA is committed to providing equitable access to all participating countries across Europe. AstraZeneca continues to build a number of supply chains in parallel across the world, including for Europe. The Company is seeking to expand manufacturing capacity further and is open to collaborating with other companies in order to meet its commitment to support access to the vaccine at no profit during the pandemic. Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, said: “This agreement will ensure that hundreds of millions of Europeans have access to Oxford University’s vaccine following approval. With our European supply chain due to begin production soon, we hope to make the vaccine available widely and rapidly. I would like to thank the governments of Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands for their commitment and swift response.” The Company has recently completed similar agreements with the UK, US, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance for 700 million doses, and it agreed a licence with the Serum Institute of India for the supply of an additional one billion doses, principally for low-and-middle-income countries. Total manufacturing capacity currently stands at two billion doses. Oxford University last month announced the start of a Phase II/III UK trial of AZD1222 in about 10,000 adult volunteers. Other late-stage trials are due to begin in a number of countries. AstraZeneca recognises that the potential vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical programme with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk. The Company’s comprehensive pandemic response also includes rapid mobilisation of AstraZeneca’s global research efforts to discover novel coronavirus-neutralising antibodies to prevent and treat progression of the COVID-19 disease, with the aim of reaching clinical trials in the next three to five months. Additionally, the Company has quickly moved into testing of new and existing medicines to treat the infection, including the  trials underway for Calquence (acalabrutinib) and the  trial for Farxiga (dapagliflozin) in COVID-19 patients. Source: https://www.astrazeneca.com/media-centre/articles/2020/astrazeneca-to-supply-europe-with-up-to-400-million-doses-of-oxford-universitys-potential-covid-19-vaccine.html?linkId=90775004
 
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New Honorary Consul General in Amsterdam
Mr. Nils van Dijkman has been appointed as the Honorary Consul General of Sweden in Amsterdam as of June 3, 2020.
Nils van Dijkman is partner in the employment law practice of HEUSSEN Attorneys and Civil law notaries in Amsterdam, where he heads the Sweden Desk. He has extensive experience in advising on various employment law matters and is listed in the prestigious Legal500 as a recommended employment lawyer in the Netherlands. Nils is fluent in Dutch, English and Swedish (native), and with his Dutch and Swedish background he will be an excellent promotor for the Swedish-Dutch business community in the Amsterdam region. In his professional role, he advises both Dutch and international companies, with an emphasis on Swedish companies. He served as Chairman of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the Netherlands 2007–2015. In 2015 he was awarded the title of Honorary Member of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce as a recognition of his work. Nils van Dijkman succeeds Edgar Peer, who has been Sweden’s Honorary Consul General in Amsterdam since 1998. Source: The Swedish Embassy for the Netherlands https://bit.ly/30Iagns   The Swedish Chamber of Commerce is very pleased to congratulate Nils van Dijkman to his appointment and contacted him for a reaction: What are your tasks and ambitions as the new Honorary Consul General of Sweden in Amsterdam? "My role is to represent Sweden in The Netherlands, specifically in Amsterdam that I am responsible for. It is important to not only represent Sweden as a country but represent the Swedish values. I also promote Swedish Business in the Netherlands, including trade for example trade missions or Swedish companies interested in the Dutch market. The tasks also include providing information to Swedish citizens in the Netherlands in case of emergencies etc. I am the link in between individuals and the Swedish Embassy in The Hague, so in any specific consular matters I refer to the Swedish Embassy. Another part is to assist Swedish businesses to connecting to Dutch organizations, government, or communities etc. For me, having been the Chairman of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for The Netherlands, between 2007-2015 it is a great opportunity to continue to promote Sweden and  I am now looking forward to continuing to develop this in my new role". How would you describe the collaboration between Sweden and the Netherlands today?  "I think the collaboration is closer than ever. The Netherlands was the first country where Sweden had an Embassy more than 400 years ago, so the Netherlands has been an important country for Sweden since centuries. With the current situation with Brexit, Sweden and the Netherlands has become even closer diplomatically. I also see an increased interest in business and many other areas". As a member and Patron of the Swedish Chamber what collaboration possibilities do you see in your new role? "I always supported the Swedish Chamber as a Chairman an Honorary Member and still today after I resigned as a Chairman, my law firm HEUSSEN is supporting the Swedish Chamber as a Patron member. I think the combination of being a Patron member and supporting the Chamber with contacts will help me as the Honorary Consul General to make this link even stronger. I look forward working with the Swedish Chamber as both a Patron and as Honorary Consul. I will use every opportunity to strengthen the ties and reach the common goals and I am looking forward to continuing to participate in the Chamber’s Events as much as possible".
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​REFLECTIONS BY THE DUTCH AMBASSADOR H.E. INES COPPOOLSE, ON THE RELATIONS BETWEEN SWEDEN AND THE NETHERLANDS
​Dear members of the Swedish Chamber in the Netherlands and the Dutch Chamber in Sweden, Swedes and Dutch are made for each other. That was the title for the webinar early June, organized by the Chambers of both countries. A very appropriate title, which also reflects the title of the book that was published during our 400 years of friendship. Sweden and the Netherlands decided to exchange resident ambassadors in 1614, so my Swedish counterpart Annika and I are honoured to be part of a very long list of ambassadors for our countries. In the past 5 years, I have had the privilege and pleasure to work with Håkan Emsgård, with Per Holmström and since 2 years with Annika Markovic. Annika being the first female Swedish ambassador to the Netherlands and I was the first female Dutch ambassador to Sweden. Now that both Chambers are also chaired by 2 women, Kerstin Gerlagh in Amsterdam and Els Berkers in Stockholm, I feel that things have really changed. For the good! My departure from Sweden is imminent, so it is the right time to share my reflections with you, members of both chambers. You have all done your bit to shape this bilateral relationship and I hope you will keep contributing. I have three words or labels to describe our relationship: like-mindedness, partnership and inspiration. These words more or less cover the past 400+ years, but I am convinced they will keep their relevance in the many years to come. Allow me to explain those three words, to start with like-mindedness. We share the same values, whether it’s folkhemmet or poldermodel, we are both appreciative of openness, transparency. Journalists can write what they like, and we are all at ease with criticizing our governments or CEO’s. We don’t like to flaunt our wealth, but prefer a more egalitarian society. Whether you call it ‘lagom’ or ‘doe maar gewoon dat is al gek genoeg’, to me it’s the same sort of modesty as a virtue. We feel that sharing is key, which is why we are both great advocates of the Sustainable Development Goals and why we feel that helping other countries is the right thing to do. To Dutch and Swedes, a deal is a deal, and rules are there to obey. Especially international rules, as enshrined in international laws and treaties. Maybe it is a socio-cultural mentality, or maybe it is simply because our economies and societies depend on a level playing field. We don’t feel very comfortable with powerplay, although our economic situations do give us some leverage. At the same time, we would like to spend our money wisely. You don’t spend what you don’t have, and you try to keep your financial house in order. All of the above have created a strong fabric of likemindedness that will last for a long time. Regarding partnership, there have always been successful ways of cooperating. Whether in business (Akzo-Nobel, Nuon/Vattenfall) or in military missions (mixed crew during the operation Atalanta on board of the Dutch ship Johan de Witt, helping each other in Mali), Sweden and the Netherlands find it easy to cooperate. Not because we áre the same, but because we share the same values and then take a slightly different approach in getting things done. We both believe in hard work, and cherish a market economy. Our societies are built on slightly different economic foundations (services/logistics vs industry/mining), but have the same goals: international markets, export driven companies, importance of innovation, digitization and the need for a more sustainable and green transition. Working together on those issues is a necessity, but certainly also a pleasure. Inspiration has been the consequence of our differences. Swedes tend to be a bit more careful and mindful of the group opinion. The Dutch can be somewhat more boisterous and tend to speak out without checking or consulting. Both characteristics have their disadvantages and advantages, but mixing them together results very often in inspirational projects or partnerships. The Dutch can learn from the way Swedes take pride in preparing. The Swedes can learn from the Dutch that provocation is not always a bad thing but could trigger something useful. So, with that as an introduction, I have looked at the various levels where Sweden and the Netherlands have cooperated in the past 5 years. Where are we on the same page, and will we keep it that way in the years to come? Where did we differ and are we going to solve those differences? Let’s take 5 levels to inventorize: within the UN, within the EU, on security, on the economy and within society. Within the UN, we have intensified. Our shared year within the UN Security Council in 2018 laid the foundation for countless G2G contacts. We have pushed and pulled together, and this has resulted in a stronger group of the so-called Elected Ten. Hopefully with long-term results. With our common push for the SDG’s and for the climate emergency, we managed to get more international attention. Sweden has put extra emphasis on the importance of women (no sustainable peace agreements feasible if women were not included at the negotiation table), the Netherlands has put extra emphasis on justice (accountability, peaceful settlement of disputes). Combining forces helped in agenda-setting and I am convinced that both countries will keep pushing together where we can in the years ahead. We differ with our approach to development cooperation. We share the same goals, but where Sweden has an independent agency (SIDA) that has projects in many countries around the globe, the Netherlands has merged development cooperation with foreign trade and has focused on fewer countries as partner countries. However, we both are strong supporters of UN organizations and one of the few that give core-funding rather than seeking out specific programs. On the EU, I observe a significant intensification as well. Of course, the Brexit was a (unwelcome) trigger. But Sweden and the Netherlands have grown as fierce supporters for a strong internal market, with the 4 freedoms as its pillar. Our push for an innovative and greener budget for the next 7 years, a budget that represents the fact that we have now 27 countries instead of 28, has resulted in the group of so-called ‘frugal 4’. Not something that we wanted to create, because both Sweden and the Netherlands depend on as many partnerships and coalitions as possible. But on the budget, we are on exactly the same page. Also, rule of law (or better formulated, the importance of upholding rule of law) has emerged as an issue where we stand strongly together. When I arrived in Sweden in August 2015, it was the start of the Luxemburg EU presidency. I had to take care of that, because Luxemburg does not have an embassy in Stockholm. After that, it was the Dutch who took the EU presidency and my team and I have tried to give maximum visibility to our priorities here in Sweden. Where Sweden and the Netherlands differ, is on the currency. We would be very pleased if Sweden would join the Banking Union and ultimately the Euro, but as an ambassador I have had very limited leverage on these issues :-(  However, it is good to realize that – unlike Denmark – Sweden does not have an opt-out. So at some point, the SEK will have to be SEKrified. I am convinced though that we can work together to create the circumstances within the EU in such a way that joining the common currency will become an economically attractive proposition for Sweden. On security I can be short. I already pointed out to the numerous missions we have done together, not to mention the joint exercises we have done in these past 5 years. Sweden’s political choice for non-military alignment is different from the Dutch firm commitment to NATO. However, Sweden has developed into one of the most active NATO-partners, which offers a good platform for future bilateral cooperation as well. The follow-up of the first Swedish-Dutch Defence, Security and Aeronautics Innovation Day that Annika organized last year, was meant to be hosted by me on the 14th of May this year. Much to my regret, the covid-19 came in between. I hope my successor will soon be able to go ahead with what we had prepared. Economically, we have grown in the past 5 years. In partnership with the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland, we have created a position for a Business Development Officer in Göteborg who works closely with the economic clusters at the Dutch Embassies in the Nordic Baltic Region. This position followed after a successful evaluation of the Regional Business Developer, stationed at Copenhagen, who has consistently informed business sectors in the Netherlands on opportunities in this region. I have seen the interest for the stable Swedish market grow in the Netherlands, and I note an increased presence particularly in the construction sector, the infrastructure market and the health sector. Also, there is a growing interest in Sweden for the Dutch expertise on circular economy. My colleagues at the embassy have worked hard and I am proud of the results that were achieved. Very often, we were able to work together with the Dutch chamber in the many events and seminars we have organized. However, there is still room for growth in trade volumes. Also, it is my wish to get more Swedish companies interested in the circular model – if possible in partnerships with Dutch companies. I want to mention one exciting initiative: we are going to open a Dutch Innovation House in the embassy. It aims to facilitate innovative solutions for challenges in the area of climate change, health care, mobility, food security and energy. We want to bring people together from the business sector, students, academics and literally offer them facilities to work on common projects and seminars. To be continued! Last but not least, our societies. I have witnessed an increase in the number of visits from the Netherlands to Sweden and vice versa. Whether they were commercial missions, NGO’s, governance sector, scientists or simply tourists; there is a growing interest and mutual curiosity. And still so much more to discover, and learn from each other! In conclusion: A relationship based on likemindedness, partnership and inspiration is easy and pleasant. But like in a good marriage, you cannot take its success for granted. We have to keep working together to maintain, to grow, and take it to the next level. It should be more than just an ad hoc cooperation, but how should we make this relationship more strategic without being seen as a closed club or without a formalized alliance? That is a challenge, and a few suggestions were made during the webinar that are worth exploring (promote certain business sectors, organize thematic meetings for SME’s, set up a CEO network in the respective residences, formulate common goals etc). I will challenge the members of both Chambers to work something out. But the heart of the matter is: our common values are more and more under pressure. So Sweden and the Netherlands must join forces, and must do so smartly in order to shape developments and preserve what we cherish. I am grateful for the past 5 years, it was wonderful being a temporary Swede. I will carry a part of Sweden with me to my next destination Canada. I am proud of what both embassies have done to give more meaning and depth to the bilateral relationship: by bringing people together, by providing information, by organizing network events and where possible we have done that jointly. I have been blessed with such lovely colleagues at the Swedish embassy in The Hague, and with the board members of both Chambers. Without that fruitful cooperation, which is not a given, I would not have been able to achieve anything. And of course, an Ambassador is literally nowhere without a team. I can honestly say that I have been very very lucky with my team in Stockholm. Let me end by wishing Annika, Els en Kerstin all the best in their endeavours and to express the hope that my successor Bengt van Loosdrecht will be welcomed in the way that I was welcomed. But of course he will, since Swedes and Dutch were made for each other and are made for each other. Together you will lay the foundation for the beginning of the next 400 years, good luck to you all!   /Ines Coppoolse
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