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New film: Economic Freedom in the EU – stay like Brunei or become more like Denmark?

Pressmeddelande   •   Maj 14, 2014 16:14 CEST

Europe has been struggling with unemployment, deficits and low growth for decades. Even though much has been accomplished, even more needs to be done if the European Union is to reach its goal och being the most dynamic and competitive region in the world.

In a new video and a background memorandum, Timbro explains why so many European economies are still struggling – and shows a way to move ahead.

- We wanted to compare economic freedom across the European Union. Our conclusion is that many important countries like France and Italy, as well as a weighted average for the EU as a whole, receives a shockingly low ranking. Economic freedom in Europe is viewed to have more in common with countries like Uruguay, Jordan and Brunei than with important competitors like Australia, Canada, the United States, Taiwan or South Korea, says Gustav Blix, Member of Swedish Parliament for the Moderate Party and author of the memorandum.

- The good and important news is that change is possible. And good examples can be found right across Europe. All we have to do is learn from the best countries and adopt reforms already introduced in other European countries. The best example is perhaps to study Denmark. Although far from perfect in any way, it has a free and competitive economy that also provides social security, growth, opportunity and – strikingly – the world’s happiest population

- If European countries decided to learn from successful friends and neighbours we could rapidly create the world’s largest and most competitive market place in only a few years. The upcoming European elections should focus more on successful reforms to promote economic opportunity for all. We need to choose freedom, concludes Gustav Blix.

See the movie #ChooseFreedom here.

Read the memorandum, Economic Freedom in the EU: Mediocre today – world leader tomorrow?, with background, method and numbers here.

Read a brief summary below.

For more information:

Gustav Blix, author of the memorandum, Member of Swedish Parliament,,  +46-70-674 74 00

Håkan Tribell, Director of Ideas, Timbro, 0708-922916


Over five years have passed since the outbreak of the most severe economic crisis of our time. Since then, there has been an ongoing global and European debate on how to restore economic growth. Several years before the outbreak of the crisis, the EU set an ambitious goal with the Lisbon Strategy to become the most dynamic and competitive region in the world. There is widespread consensus that today’s levels of unemployment, exclusion, deficit, and debt are undesirable and unsustainable, and need to be addressed.

None of these challenges will be overcome without boosting economic growth.  As growth cannot be commanded, the ongoing debate on “austerity measures” vs. “growth” is misleading and false.

Rather, the challenge lies in creating societies where individuals, families, and companies are able to work, trade, consume, save, invent, and invest without tangled regulation, high taxes, or other obstacles. Simply put: the challenge lies in increasing economic freedom.

This paper seeks to contribute to the debate by showing that while many EU-countries, i.e. Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, and Germany have seen an increase in economic freedom over the last years, much remains to be done. In regards to economic freedom, the EU in total is nowhere near its goal of being a world leader. The European Union bears more resemblance to countries like Brunei, Rwanda, and Uruguay than major competitors such as USA, Canada, Australia, and Taiwan.

Thus, Europe is in need of further reforms. Luckily, the solution is not hard to find. What needs to be done is to use the method of best practices by learning from those EU member states which are freer and more successful than others. As shown in this memorandum, the method of “follow the leader” would rapidly transform the EU into a global leader position, ahead of comparable countries and regions. The example should be used as an illustration of how to reach the goal of the Europe 2020 strategy, which aims to create the world’s most dynamic and competitive economy.

First and foremost, the reforms would be an important step in the fight against youth unemployment, deficit, and stagnation. A strategy to increase the economic freedom in the EU as well as in individual member states would tackle both the short term challenges as well as align with the European Union’s long term agenda.

About Timbro
Timbro's mission is to develop, promote and disseminate ideas and issues supporting the principles of free markets, free enterprise, individual liberty and a free society.