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How Sweden can make things easier for foreign construction companies

A SABO explainer

Stockholm, 12 December 2016 | Economy, Energy

Complicated contracts, complex building and work environment rules, and documents only available in Swedish. Construction companies wishing to enter the Swedish market and fulfill the potential of the European Union face many challenges. This is underlined by a report from the Housing Europe member, SABO- the Swedish Association of Public Housing Companies, an industry and interest organisation.


By Johanna Ode*

Sweden has a severe shortage of homes and the highest construction prices in the EU, while at the same time lacks the manpower to build what is required. A difficult situation that could be improved if we increase competition in the construction sector. SABO has therefore made a strategic effort to improve capacity by attracting the interest of non-Nordic construction companies in becoming established in Sweden.

In the course of our work we have encountered several inadequacies in the function of the internal European market. Numerous small barriers combined constitute a major roadblock for foreign construction companies seeking to establish themselves in Sweden. One of the cornerstones of cooperation within the EU is the internal market, in which goods, services, capital and people move freely. Trade barriers – intentional or unintentional – are something that every state’s government and other stakeholders must try to prevent to enable EU cooperation to achieve its full potential.

Aiming to generate solutions, SABO presented a report based on interviews with foreign construction companies. What can we learn from their accounts? What can we improve to make their establishment easier and who should make these efforts?

It emerges from the report that the construction companies consider Swedish bureaucracy to be complicated and they would like an overview of readily accessible information. They also want the Nordic governments to work towards common building regulations.

SABO and the public housing companies could contribute by having tender documents, other documentation and correspondence in English. They also want contract works to be split so that companies without the capacity to take on a turn-key contract can participate.

* Johanna Ode is Head of International Affairs at SABO and Chair of the Housing Europe Energy & Construction Working Committee.

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