"We are not in any way newcomers in Brussels – we have been frequent visitors for years, although using the "fly in, fly out" method. With an office here and permanent representation through Anna Holmberg, we are stepping up a notch with the aim of exerting an influence earlier in the political processes, building even stronger networks and continuing to contribute constructively" said CEO Carina Håkansson in her speech at Swedish Forest Industries Open House, which marked the launch of the company's permanent office in Brussels.
"I am convinced that a growing forest-based circular bio-economy plays an important role in the shift towards a more sustainable world. The Swedish forest industry sees itself as part of the solution, not as the issue. When others talk about contributing in ten or twenty years from now, we are offering solutions today that are generating instant climate benefits."
Carina Håkansson also looked to the future and highlighted a number of interesting issues that are awaiting the new Commission, based on Ursula von der Leyen's policy statement.
"The European Green Deal is on our radar screen, as well as A New Plan for Circular Economy, the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan and the updated Biodiversity and Industrial Strategies."
Two questions for some of the evening's guests
- A permanent presence for Swedish Forest Industries here in Brussels – what do you think will be the effect of that?
- How important is it for the EU to transform its economy to be circular and bio-based? What is the role of the forest industry in this development?
Risko Artjoki, European Commission, Cabinet of Commissioner Katainen
- It is a positive move. When you are present in Brussels, you can really be involved in all the discussions and use all opportunities to be part of the discussions about circular economy, bio-economy and other topics.
- In order to have a functioning circular economy, you also need new material from time to time. The bio-economy is a sustainable way of producing new input for the circular economy. The Green Deal represents an opportunity for bio-based industries, but the sector will have to make its case and explain how it can be part of the sustainable future.
Lena Ek, Södra
- It is incredibly important! Negotiations in Brussels proceed quickly. And there are legislative matters in progress that can mean life or death for the Swedish forest sector.
- If we look at the global challenges and the UN's Sustainability Development Goals, it is impossible to achieve them without working on forest issues and circular bio-economy.
Jeremy Wall, European Commission, DG GROW
- It will help the Commission's and other forest-related networks to have ongoing contact and dialogue with experts from the Swedish Forest industries, adding to the range of opinions we listen to across the EU. We will be able to meet more frequently and easily than hitherto. Sweden is, after all, one of the EU's very big forestry and forestry industry countries. So, we are looking forward to deepening and strengthening the good relations we already have.
- It is absolutely essential to the EU to transform to a circular bio-based economy to meet its energy and climate targets for 2030 and 2050. The forest-based sector is already a part of that in many ways, especially for primary raw materials and for energy. However in the next decades, this sector will have to become increasingly a part of the real circular economy, through secondary raw materials which are recovered from post-consumer streams and then re-used and/or recycled into new, innovative and more highly added-value products. In this context, hopefully the forest-based industries can be a role model for other material sectors in resource and energy efficiency.
Linda Reinholdsson, South Sweden Office
- It is greatly welcomed, because we need a stronger presence from representatives of the Swedish forest bio-economy. It is important, from a democratic perspective, to make your voice heard – otherwise there will always be others who are happy to speak for you.
- It is important to link together the two concepts of circular economy and bio-economy. Together, they represent the answer to several of the difficult issues facing us today. And for Sweden, a circular bio-economy is our strength, indeed our competitive advantage in relation to other countries.
Johan Elvnert, Forest Technology Platform
- With Swedish Forest Industries, the Swedish forest sector is gaining yet another ear to the ground in Brussels. It is good to have a strong team, with different players raising different perspectives in an issue.
- There is a trend in society nowadays to look for problems. Few people know where they should be looking for solutions. The bio-economy and the forest sector jointly represent an important solution. We can make a substantial contribution to solving the climate challenges.
Sofia Lindbom, assistant to MEP Jessica Polfjärd
- For me personally, it makes my work easier. With Swedish Forest Industries here in Brussels in the form of Anna Holmberg, it will be easy to get in touch and discuss issues when necessary.
- The forest is a high priority issue for us in the Moderate Party. Our aim is to create the conditions for a bio-based economy. This represents a green, forward-looking alternative to today's fossil-based economy.