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Newly Nominated US Ambassador to Sweden

Written by Cecilia Helland on Friday, 31 October 2014. Posted in Right Top, Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 1

A new ambassador has been nominated to replace the current ambassador, Mark Brzezinski. The nominee, Azita Raji, is a former investment banker.

Azita Raji was born in Tehran and grew up in Iran and Western Europe. After graduating from high school in Lausanne, Switzerland, she earned her B.A. in Architecture and French from aziBarnard College followed by an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School. In her professional career, she has held a number of prestigious positions, including Member of the Bretton Woods Committee and Commissioner of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Her nomination has been submitted to the U.S. Senate for its consideration. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Ms. Raji would become the first female ambassador from the United States to Sweden as well as the first Iranian-born American to be appointed as a U.S. Ambassador.

Read more here.

Asylum decisions in the EU28

Written by Tony Harkén on Tuesday, 23 September 2014. Posted in Main 2, Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 1

EU Member States granted protection to 135 700 asylum seekers in 2013.

The EU28 Member States granted protection to 135 700 asylum seekers in 2013, compared with 116 200 in 2012. Over the last five years, more than 570 000 asylum seekers were granted protection status 1 in the EU.

Of the 35 800 Syrians granted protection status in the EU28, more than 60% were recorded in two Member States: Sweden (12 000) and Germany (9 600).

In 2013, the highest number of persons granted protection status was registered in Sweden (26 400), followed by Germany (26 100), France (16 200), Italy (14 500) and the United Kingdom (13 400). All together, these five Member States accounted for more than 70% of all those granted protection status in the EU28.

Download the PDF from Eurostat

Flemish exports reach record level in 2013

Written by Cecilia Helland on Thursday, 22 May 2014. Posted in Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 1, Main 5 - 3st

Flanders’ exports last year reached a record level of €293.6 billion, an increase of 1.64% on 2012, according to figures from Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT). The 2012 total was itself a record.

Read the story here and don´t miss the Seminar in Stockholm June 3

Soviet Sweden? Model Nation Sliding to Third World

Written by Tony Harkén on Wednesday, 09 April 2014. Posted in Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 1, Right bottom - 8st

When President Barack Obama visited Sweden last year, he expressed his deep admiration for the Swedish model.

But that should make Americans a little nervous.

Read the article at CBN News

Sweden grants blanket asylum to Syrian refugees

Written by Tony Harkén on Wednesday, 04 September 2013. Posted in Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 2, Main 6 - 3st

Sweden on Tuesday became the first European Union country to announce it will give asylum to all Syrian refugees who apply.

Read the hole story at France24

”LAN party tax” hits Swedish gamers

Written by Tony Harkén on Thursday, 27 June 2013. Posted in Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 4, Right bottom - 8st

Gamers in Sweden suffer a hard financial blow as authorities decide to tax so-called LAN parties.

From now on, organizers of multiplayer get-togethers will be forced to pay a fee of up to $5,000 in order to receive a "permit" to connect PCs and video game consoles for gaming purposes.

The ruling was made by the Gambling Board, the supervisory authority for gambling and lottery, in accordance with the liberal government’s revised slot machine regulation of last year.

The thriving gaming culture in Sweden – which hosts DreamHack, the biggest LAN party in the world – is expected to be struck hard by the decision.

Video games, too, are included under the new authorization.

”In the eyes of the law, these are slot machines. There is no difference,” Johan Röhr, general counsel at the Gambling Board, told the computer magazine M3.

According to Röhr, the new rules do not apply to, for instance, Internet cafes, where computers are mainly connected for purposes other than gaming.

In addition to the new tax, LAN organizers may be forced to pay an extra inspection fee should the Gambling Board decide to supervise the party.

Erik de Basso, Accounting Manager of the LAN party organizer Inferno Online, is highly critical of the new tax, which will cost his company additional thousands of dollars of expenses every year.

”They equate our business with playing slots at the local pub. Of course you get pissed,” he told M3.

The Gambling Board now requests all companies and economic associations which organize games on computers in a LAN environment to apply for a permit. For purely private gaming authorization is, so far, not needed. A permit is valid for two years.

People call on GAP and H&M to clean up the Bangladesh “deathshops”

Written by Tony Harkén on Sunday, 12 May 2013. Posted in Right bottom intervju, Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 1, Main 5 - 3st

Huge pressure is building on CEOs of GAP and H&M to take the lead in cleaning up Bangladesh’s clothing “death shops” with 780,000 people backing Avaaz’s campaign this week urging them to sign a new enforceable fire and building safety agreement for Bangladesh.

This comes as it was confirmed that over 1000 people died in the Rana Plaza disaster and a further 8 people died in a separate clothing factory fire in Dhaka last night.

The major fashion companies who get their clothes made in Bangladesh are now in discussions about new, binding industry-wide building safety standards to replace the patchwork of self-regulated plans that the recent tragedies have shown to be totally inadequate. Industry negotiations with workers on this agreement are due to end on Wednesday 15th May.

Alex Wilks, Campaign Director for Avaaz said:

“These factories aren’t sweatshops, they’re deathshops. Hundreds of women have been crushed to death making our clothes. Now 780,000 people around the world are calling on the CEOs of H&M and GAP to sign the pact to stop more Bangladesh fashion disasters.”

Avaaz’s campaign is being delivered by hard hitting ads calling on the two companies’ CEOs, Karl-Johan Persson and Glenn Murphy, to take personal responsibility for the decision to sign the safety plan. Yesterday, however, the ads were refused by leading Swedish paper Dagens Industri and the industry magazine Women’s Wear Daily. Avaaz is approaching other publications to run similar ads in the coming days.

Avaaz is targeting H&M because they buy clothes from 200 factories in Bangladesh, and GAP source from 50 factories there. Bangladesh is the second biggest garment maker in the world with four million workers. Many of them face chronically unsafe conditions - with blocked or non-existent fire exits and shaky foundations -- on barely subsistence wages.

Two major clothing companies have signed the robust safety agreement, including PVH -- the owner of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger -- but GAP and H&M have yet to state their positions.

AVAAZ - is the campaigning community bringing people-powered politics to decision-making worldwide >

THE AVAAZ MOVEMENT: 21,478,356 members worldwide

Ericsson concludes its planned reduction of operations in Sweden

Written by Tony Harkén on Wednesday, 27 March 2013. Posted in Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 1, Main 7 - 3st

Ericsson in Sweden has reduced its operations by 1,399 positions by adapting the organization, in cooperation with the unions. This has resulted in 919 employees being given notice

As announced previously, in absolute numbers, the majority of the reductions are in Ericsson's Networks unit, but all parts of the organization in Sweden are to some extent affected, impacting all its Swedish sites except Falun, Hudiksvall, Kalmar and Katrineholm.

Actual employees made redundant per site: Borås (24 employees), Gothenburg - Lindholmen and Mölndal (100), Karlskrona (30), Kumla (89), Linköping (78), Luleå (7), Lund (14), Malmö (8), Stockholm (569).

Expected restructuring costs associated to these actions estimated to approximately SEK -1.5 b., impacting Group results in Q1, 2013.

Successful immigration reform attracts experts to Sweden

Written by Tony Harkén on Sunday, 03 March 2013. Posted in Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 1, Right bottom - 8st

Over 60,000 work permits have been issued under legislation enacted in 2008 that allows greater labour migration to Sweden.

Few of these migrants stay in Sweden for longer periods. ”Open fears of excessive immigration have not been borne out”, states Karin Ekenger, Labour Market Specialist at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

Read more here

EIB supports development of Stockholm metro

Written by Tony Harkén on Monday, 18 February 2013. Posted in Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 1, Main 6 - 3st

The President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Werner Hoyer, will sign a SEK 3.5 billion (some EUR 400 million) loan agreement with Stockholm County Council (Stockholms Läns Landsting) for the development of the Red metro line.

During their official visit to Sweden, Mr Hoyer and EIB Vice-President Jonathan Taylor will also meet members of the Swedish government: Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, Minister for Finance Anders Borg and Minister for EU Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson.

“The EIB strongly promotes the creation of sustainable cities and projects improving the competitiveness and attractiveness of public transport. The modernisation of Stockholm’s metro is one of these, and we particularly welcome the agreement with Stockholm County Council as this project will provide a reliable, efficient and fast public transport service” said EIB President Werner Hoyer.

Thanks to the EIB loan, modern trains will be purchased and the existing signalling system will be replaced with communications-based train control. What is more, a new underground depot in Norsborg will be constructed and the existing Nyboda depot will be upgraded to enable the servicing of the new rolling stock. The Red metro line development will not only improve the level of service, but also cater for the future increase in demand from Stockholm’s growing population.

As the EIB targets environmentally friendly subway transport services, the new metro trains will be designed to minimise energy consumption and noise. In addition, a modernised metro will encourage a modal transfer from private to public transport, thus contributing to the reduction of emissions from private vehicle use.

The support of the EIB will also trigger growth in jobs – the increased service level of the upgraded metro line will require more train operators.

Last year, the Bank provided nearly EUR 400 million for sustainable transport projects in Sweden. It supported the extension of the Tvärbanan light rail line between Alvik and Solna, the acquisition of associated new rolling stock and the construction of a new depot at Ulvsunda. Furthermore, the Bank granted a loan for the acquisition of seventeen electric and three diesel trains improving passenger services in the Västra Götaland region (western Sweden).

Nordic Life Science Days – invest, partner and network

Written by Tony Harkén on Friday, 01 February 2013. Posted in Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 1, Main 6 - 3st

SwedenBIO, along with its sister organizations in Denmark, Finland and Norway – Biopeople, the Finnish and Norwegian BioIndustry Associations – invites you to an international partner and investor meeting together with the national and regional organizations of each country.

 “Each year, this meeting has attracted a growing number of visitors,” says Jonas Ekstrand, acting CEO SwedenBIO. “This year, we have expanded the sphere and we are pleased to share this invitation with our Nordic sister organizations. We are preparing to show the best of Life Science in the world’s 12th-largest economy.”

“The Nordic countries are world leaders in innovation, research and investments in Life Science. So, the place to be for partnering and networking is Stockholm City in October”, says Olivier Duchamp, Conference Director, Nordic Life Science Days. “Stockholm is one of the most beautiful capitals in the world, built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges. Join us, breathe the fresh air and participate in the growth of the Life Science partnering community.”

The focus is on partnering and face-to-face meetings, company presentations, as well as networking, plenary and parallel sessions on major Life Science industry issues.

Four hundred delegates attended last year’s meeting in Malmö. With the enhanced Nordic focus, the organizers expect 600 participants in Stockholm. The Nordic Life Science Days (former Life Science Investment Day Scandinavia) will take place at Stockholm Waterfront on Oct 14 to 15, 2013 and replaces the previously announced BioPartnering Future Europe (BPFE) 2013 meeting.

More information at www.swedenbio.com

Graphene appointed an EU Future Emerging Technology flagship

Written by Tony Harkén on Wednesday, 30 January 2013. Posted in Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 1, Main 7 - 3st

The European Commission has chosen Graphene as one of Europe’s first 10-year, 1,000 million euro FET flagships.

The mission of Graphene is to take graphene and related layered materials from academic laboratories to society, revolutionize multiple industries and create economic growth and new jobs in Europe.

Graphene has been subject to a scientific explosion since the groundbreaking experiments on the novel material less than ten years ago, recognized by the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 to Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov, at The University of Manchester. Graphene’s unique combination of superior properties makes it a credible starting point for new disruptive technologies in a wide range of fields.

With today’s announcement Europe is launching a new form of joint, coordinated research initiative of unprecedented scale. The Graphene Flagship brings together an academic-industrial consortium aiming at a breakthrough for technological innovation. The research effort will cover the entire value chain from materials production to components and system integration, and targets a number of specific goals that exploit the unique properties of graphene.

Key applications are for instance fast electronic and optical devices, flexible electronics, functional lightweight components and advanced batteries. Examples of new products enabled by graphene technologies include fast, flexible and strong consumer electronics such as electronic paper and bendable personal communication devices, and lighter and more energy efficient airplanes. On the longer term, graphene is expected to give rise to new computational paradigms and revolutionary medical applications such as artificial retinas.

From the start in 2013 the Graphene Flagship will coordinate 126 academic and industrial research groups in 17 European countries with an initial 30-month-budget of 54 million euro. The consortium will be extended with another 20-30 groups through an open call, issued soon after the start of the initiative, which will further strengthen the engineering aspects of the flagship. The flagship will be coordinated by Chalmers University of Technology based in Gothenburg, Sweden. Director is Professor Jari Kinaret who will lead the research activities together with the leaders of the 15 work packages. The management team is supported by a Strategic Advisory Council that includes the European Nobel Laureates Andre Geim (chairman), Albert Fert, Klaus von Klitzing and Kostya Novoselov, industrial representatives from Nokia and Airbus, and two representatives of the global graphene research community.

“Although the flagship is extremely extensive, it cannot cover all areas. For example, we don’t intend to compete with Korea on graphene screens”, says the Professor Jari Kinaret at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, Flagship Director. ”Graphene production, however, is obviously central to our project.”

During the 30 month ramp-up phase, the Graphene Flagship will focus on the area of communications, concentrating on ICT and on the physical transport sector, and supporting applications in the fields of energy technology and sensors. After the ramp-up phase, the flagship will grow to full size and include many new groups and activities. The details of flagship implementation after the ramp-up phase are still open and form a part of the discussions on the Horizon 2020 research program of the European Union.

Increase in exports to other continents lifts Port of Gothenburg

Written by Tony Harkén on Monday, 28 January 2013. Posted in Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 2, Right bottom - 8st

Despite the downturn in the world economy, strong export trade, particularly to other continents, helped lift freight volumes at the Port of Gothenburg in 2012.

This can be seen in a presentation of port volumes for the year presented today.

With total freight of 42 million tonnes, Port of Gothenburg volumes increased by one per cent during 2012.

"We handle a great deal of Swedish foreign trade and although we noted a slowdown last year it was far from the dramatic events of 2009," says Magnus Kårestedt, Port of Gothenburg Chief Executive.

Three distinct patterns Three distinct trade patterns emerged at the Port of Gothenburg during 2012: a rise in trade with other continents coupled with a fall in European trade; an increase in exports and a decrease in imports; growth in freight volumes from the Swedish east coast passing through the Port of Gothenburg.

Magnus Kårestedt explains: "A fall in demand in Europe has forced industry to find new markets farther afield. In 2012, we saw a substantial increase in volumes on our deep sea services to other continents while many of the short sea services in Europe have lost volumes." 

Container exports via the Port of Gothenburg, largely paper, wood, steel, vehicles and industrial components, rose during the year by three per cent while imports fell by five per cent.

Two new deep sea services to Asia, in combination with three new rail shuttles, including one to Sundsvall, have led to more companies on the east coast choosing to run their freight through the Port of Gothenburg.

According to Magnus Kårestedt, the chance for companies throughout the country to transport freight for just five to eight hours by rail shuttle straight to the quayside is an attractive proposition. From there they can reach 140 destinations directly without transshipment.

The number of containers transported by rail to and from the port rose by 10 per cent during 2012 – a new record.

Containers up, ro-ro and cars down 900,000 TEU were handled at the Port of Gothenburg in 2012, one per cent up on 2011 and a new all-time high. Ro-ro traffic (trailers and other rolling goods) fell by four per cent during 2012, closing the year at 534,000 units.

The most significant decrease during 2012 was the number of vehicles shipped – down 31 per cent. This can be attributed largely to the fall in car production at the Volvo Torslanda plant.

Full speed ahead at the Energy Port Gothenburg has the largest energy port in the Nordic region. Half of Sweden's crude oil imports pass through the port. Ethanol, diesel, asphalt and a range of other products are also produced. In total, 22.2 million tonnes of energy products were handled in 2012, up 9 per cent on the previous year. The upturn is mainly due to higher volumes at the refineries. One product that has shown a marked increase is diesel – up 35 per cent.

Blog.com International - Shuts down pro-Assange website

Written by Tony Harkén on Thursday, 10 January 2013. Posted in Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 2, Right bottom - 8st

Blog.com International shut down the famous Swedish free political investigating website and blog, http://www.undermattan.com without any explanation or prior notice.

The site went dark shortly after it revealed the Swedish army’s involvement and their possible connection to the Swedish media in the Julian Assange case.

The censorship came suddenly as the subject at the same time was up for discussion on the popular Flashback forum in Sweden. Independent sources say the censoring of the website was done by request of Swedish authorities who acted on the behalf of the Swedish government.

Similar behavior by Swedish authorities has been observed and documented in both 2011 and 2012.

The takedown was done in the manner a Middle Eastern dictatorship would do it.

- Without prior notice – In the middle of the night, and afterwards refusing to answer any questions or revealing why they did it. So far there have been no arrests.

http://www.undermattan.com hosts a large amount of crucial public information regarding the Swedish government’s suspicious handling of the Julian Assange case.

The site had among other things published the police interviews with Anna Ardin, Sofia Wilén and Julian Assange and hosted lots of unique material regarding the case which could not be found anywhere else on the web.

Before the takedown, the website also revealed some suspicious and possible criminal activity by Swedish intelligence and the Swedish foreign department where Carl Bildt, the Swedish minister for foreign affairs, is in charge.

Read more here

Uncertainty continues to frustrate forecasters

Written by Tony Harkén on Thursday, 27 December 2012. Posted in Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 1, Main 6 - 3st

Economic policy uncertainty has increased in recent years, and has made recessions deeper and recoveries slower.

Going forward, the uncertainty index shows an upturn in the US as it faces the fiscal cliff, and a small decrease in the euro area in line with the steps taken to ease concerns about a euro collapse. Still, uncertainty levels are high and point to worse economic developments ahead than if uncertainty was lower. The good thing – it is not too late for politicians to make a difference!

Swedbank - Cecilia Hermansson

Mercuri International starts operations in Serbia

Written by Tony Harkén on Friday, 07 December 2012. Posted in Sweden, Articles of Sweden, Main 1, Main 7 - 3st

Mercuri International is starting business in Serbia in January 2013.

The Serbian team will mainly deliver services in Sales Management, Powerful Sales Performance, In Company Implementation Projects and Open courses.

“We see a large potential in Serbia due to the country approaching the EU. Many multinational companies choose Serbia as the location for their headquarters and we are looking forwards to enable the Serbian business community to grow.” says Mr Ola Strömberg, CEO Mercuri International Group.

The office will be located in Belgrade and the managing director will be Milomir Ždrale. Previously Mr Ždrale has worked as a Sales Director for two international companies in Ukraine and Serbia before becoming a sales consultant. His expertise is in Sales Management and in the optimization of Sales Processes and Systems.

The opening ceremony was held on December 5 2012 at the Hotel Belgrade. Mr. Jiri Sedivy, Regional Director Mercuri International Central Europe and Mr. Davor Fabčič, Managin Director Slovenia presented Mercuri International and the results of Mercuri International’s global Sales Excellence survey.

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