On 12 November we held our first Online beer tasting. This was hosted by SME-member Louis Hedberg, who is the proud owner of the craft beer brewery Inlands Bryggeri. In the tasting we were shown through the factory facility and tasted 4 delicious handcrafted beers. Louis passionately guided the attendees through 4 different beers, it gave the spectators a unique insight in the Micro brewery and it's pearls. Paragraph. Klicka här när du vill redigera.
the Dutch Chamber has moved to a new office at the embassy, the so-called Innovation House. The new office is located on the ground floor with its own entrance to Peter Myndesbacke.
Annika Närling, board member communications, prepared a film to show you around the Innovation House (see below). She interviewed John Dekker from the embassy, who explains the thoughts behind the Innovation House: a meeting place for those who want to explore the Swedish market. One can only conclude that it is an obvious home for our members and network. Please contact Frank Cleeren if you want an individual tour.
Consul and DC member Kerstin Lindell opened the new Bona Headquarters, close to the Central Station in Malmö for a Dutch Chamber Mingle on 15 October.
It was an excellent opportunity for our Ambassador, Mr Bengt van Loosdrecht to meet our members and for our members to hear more from the Ambassador at the beautiful new office.
The group of invitees was not big, due to the precautions taken because of the Covid 19 situation. But with approx. 20 people we had a very nice and interesting mingle, where people networked and exchanged the latest business experiences.
It was also good to hear, partly even in Swedish, that our Ambassador has an eye and heart for the importance of the regions outside of Stockholm.
We thank Kerstin Lindell and Helena Wikenås for helping with the organisation. Regional Directors Bram Nabuurs and Wouter Ridder will follow-up on this mingle, hoping for a possibility to organise events soon with more guests if the situation permits.
We are glad to introduce our newest member of the Dutch Chamber (region West), Esther Meulenberg. Born in Geleen, raised in Heerlen and graduated as Master of Laws at Maastricht University. She is a proud ambassador for the South of Limburg. For career reasons Esther relocated from Limburg to Amsterdam and since one and a half years she has landed in the far north, along the west coast of Sweden, in Göteborg.
Esther, what made you come to Sweden?
“During the darkest winter months, I worked on a short term assignment for Essity in Mölndal and fell in love with the country, the Swedes and my Mexican partner. After this expat period I moved back to The Netherlands and started working on the possibility to move to Sweden permanently. The HR department of Essity and I worked on my relocation. Practical arrangements were made, the move went smoothly, a colleague accompanied me to the authorities to get my personal number, I attended a language course in Swedish and participated in a workshop on cultural communication and cultural differences. All ingredients for a great start”.
Besides being a new member, you are also engaged as a volunteer for the Dutch Chamber in organizing events along the west coast. Can you tell us about your ideas?
“Working for Essity as a trademark attorney at the Intellectual Property department, I see what impact the Covid-19 virus has on our business, but also on people’s daily lives. We will be sharing some challenges, opportunities and changes in way of working via a webinar for The Dutch Chamber. One of my colleagues will inform participants about the company, the impact of the Corona-virus on the way of doing business, and she will present the results of the latest hygiene & health survey. In the survey, Essity examined the connection between health, hygiene, and people’s well-being by talking to 10,000 people in ten countries about their attitudes and behaviors during COVID-19. How often do people wash their hands every day? Do people still shake hands to greet each other? She will also talk about the direct impact on Essity’s business (remember the worldwide toilet paper hoarding?) and how Essity’s brands such as TORK contribute to a better health and hygiene. It will be an interactive webinar where we will have time for discussion and where Dutch Chamber members can meet each other at a safe distance”.
And it does not stop at this webinar, does it? Something with an intercultural expat support program?
“The workshop on intercultural communication and cultural differences that I mentioned earlier was truly helpful when I first moved to Sweden. It is based on the theory of Hofstede. I warmly recommend attending this workshop to everybody who works cross cultural. We will communicate the date for this workshop to all members as soon as possible under the current Corona restrictions.
At many different levels there can be communication problems between colleagues, companies or countries and increasing the understanding of the cultural differences it will minimize possible frustration and will help to understand each other in a better way. One may think that the cultural differences between The Netherlands and Sweden are small, but the contrary is proven. And this workshop will provide you with insights how to successfully do business in Sweden.
One of the differences that I noticed was that the Swedes have a lot of meetings, pre-meetings and even pre-pre-meetings. Just to give everybody a possibility of being involved in the matter and creating a well-supported decision. In The Netherlands we tend to be far more direct and to the point. Another aspect of the job in Sweden is the fika, which is the holy grail. Far more important than making over-hours, skipping breaks, going the extra mile. Here the social aspect of work is most relevant for getting things done”.
You mentioned it was part of the intercultural expats support program. Do you still see yourself as an expat?
“The way I live in Sweden nowadays is more as an immigrant. I work according to a Swedish contract. But as long as I don’t speak Swedish fluently there is still a part of me that says I am an expat.”
What made you connect to the Dutch Chamber?
“I have been in Sweden for one and a half years now. My social network exists of my Swedish colleagues and my Mexican friends. I feel it is time to re-connect with my Dutch roots and build a network here in Gothenburg with fellow countrymen. Building my career and making great steps within Essity is my ambition in Sweden plus creating a professional network. The Dutch Chamber can play a role in this. On a personal level I would like to really integrate in Sweden and understand the Swedish culture, learn Swedish and be an international citizen.”
Welcome to the Dutch Chamber Esther!
/Viola Pettersson Vergouwe
Marcus Scoliège recently joined the Netherlands Embassy network as business developer for Scandinavia. He is situated in the Gothenburg region, where we visited him and asked to introduce himself to our members:
You are a new name in our cherished network with the Netherlands Embassy, could you introduce yourself to our members and other interested?
I joined the Dutch Embassy network as Business Developer Scandinavia in August this year. I am originally from New Zealand and have spent most of the last 30 years living in various places in Europe, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom. I first moved to Gothenburg in 2001 and in total I have spent more than 10 years in Sweden. I moved back to West Sweden two years ago with my Swedish wife and two children and I am very excited about the opportunity to work for the Netherlands in my second home. Outside of work I enjoy running and participating in sports, as well as cheering on my boys from the sideline of the football pitch.
What is your professional background?
I started my career in the tourism industry promoting New Zealand to Germans, before turning to international business and trade development, which included working for a Swedish company in the health and wellbeing sector, and later New Zealand’s trade and investment promotion agency for 11 years. During this time I was based in London, Hamburg as well as a couple of years back in New Zealand.
What would you like to achieve in your assignment and how can our network help you?
My role is to identify and promote business opportunities across Sweden, Denmark and Norway where Dutch companies and institutions can establish and grow. In order to do this I need to have my ear to the ground across a number of sectors in order to pick up on trends and develop leads. To get started I am focusing on opportunities in the construction and infrastructure, energy, and logistics sectors as well as life sciences and health. Sustainable, climate-smart solutions are of particular interest.
I am part of a small Regional Business Development team with one colleague in Tallinn for Finland and the Baltics, and our director in Copenhagen who creates the links with companies in the Netherlands. We are however an integrated part of the wider Dutch Embassy network which we call the Nordic Baltic Network (NBN). This network of economic advisors across seven countries provides knowledge and experience as well as connections to Dutch companies interested in the region. I am also fortunate to have two excellent Honorary Consuls who I can talk to; Håkan Friberg in Gothenburg and Kerstin Lindell in Malmö.
However I need to broaden my reach further and I am certain the outstanding network at the Dutch Chamber will be a valuable asset. I look forward to meeting as many members as possible to hear new ideas and suggestions.
How can you help our network?
I hope to be able to contribute to the network by participating in as many Chamber events as possible. I also look forward to working alongside the regional directors in Gothenburg and Malmö with their regional activities. I am also certain we will have some very interesting people from Dutch companies to speak at events and share their stories.
Are there any events planned where it is possible to meet you?
I am based in Kungsbacka and will have a small office in Gothenburg, however I want to get out and about as much as possible and look forward to a time hopefully in the not too distant future where current restrictions can be lifted. Along with the Embassy and Dutch companies we plan to have Dutch pavilions at a number of trade exhibitions next year. Two examples are Nordbygg in Stockholm and Vitalis in Gothenburg. One particular happening to be aware of is of course Gothenburg’s 400th birthday in 2021. We had been hoping to mark this occasion and the Dutch involvement in Gothenburg’s development with a series of event next year. Unfortunately with most official activities now postponed until 2023, we will be looking at some other way to celebrate this important milestone before the big party takes place in two years’ time.
On behalf of the board of Dutch Chamber we would like to thank everyone attending our very first live Back-to-work Mingle at the Sheraton Hotel on the 3th of September. It was great to see so many known and new members, especially after this turbulent time with Covid-19. To our satisfaction, regardless of safety measures, everybody seems to have had a great time and we would like to express our gratitude to the Sheraton Hotel in particular for their hospitality and care to secure a safe event. Furthermore, it was a great honour to welcome our new Dutch ambassador, Bengt van Loosdrecht. We look back on a wonderful night with the creation of so many new connections. We are looking forward to seeing you again soon in one of our events.
Elis Dijkstra has recently joined the Dutch Chamber as an associate member. She is the chair of De Nederlandse school in Stockholm, so we were curious to find out more about her and this school, as many of our members have school-going children (either expat or Dutch-Swedish).
Please introduce yourself:
My husband Jos and I are both Dutch and we have lived overseas for over 17 years now, starting out in Sydney. We then briefly came back to Haarlem to renovate a house and get married thinking we would settle there, before another foreign adventure in Munich lured us back into expat life. Our two children were born there, after which we moved to London and now for the last three years we have lived in Stocksund, where we will stay for the foreseeable future. I have been the 'trailing spouse' as you call it for most of these years, so every new country we move to presents me with new challenges and opportunities to find a meaningful way to spend my time and contribute to my new community. Coming from a background in emergency assistance, I seem to seek out the role of organiser or problem solver mostly. Besides that, I enjoy bringing communities together, be it Dutch or international, so my activities have ranged from coordinating repatriations, to organising events, to being on a school intercultural advisory committee or on a Dutch school board at the present time.
What can The Dutch School offer children of expats and Dutch-Swedish families?
The Dutch School of Stockholm (De Nederlandse School Stockholm) exists now for 23 years and we currently employ 5 teachers that teach approximately 65 children aged 4 to 16 in 7 different groups during 3 afternoons each week in the locations of the BISS. We are a not-for-profit foundation with a voluntary board and are inspected by the Dutch inspector for education. Our population consists half of expats, so families of two Dutch parents that are here for a few years and then move on or return to the Netherlands. For these families the main objective is to keep up their Dutch language to a standard so that the children can easily return to an age-appropriate class upon return to the Netherlands.
We offer a high standard of education and have qualified teachers, up to date teaching methods, books and tests (CITO) to make this happen. The other half of our population consists of families that live here long term and mostly have 1 Swedish and 1 Dutch parent and for them it is more important to keep up the language so they can speak to their grandparents for instance, join in the Dutch cultural activities, or be able to study at a Dutch university later on.
Also for expat children like mine that have never lived in the Netherlands this is a consideration, because a Dutch university will not just accept them with a foreign secondary diploma. Proof of sufficient Dutch language comprehension and speech is necessary, which is why we offer the 4th year secondary school students the chance to sit for their CNaVT (Certificaat Nederlands als Vreemde Taal) exam. If they pass this, they get a certificate confirming their Dutch competency and this is accepted by most Dutch and Flemish universities. For the Swedish-based students this is also interesting, because the level at which we teach is of a higher level then Modersmål and this certificate is equivalent to an A mark in a foreign language. Many Swedish schools accept the certificate and a student may then be able to substitute this high mark for a lower one in another language and get more points that way.
What made you accept the challenge of chairing the board of The Dutch School?
As my kids were born in Germany and have never lived in the Netherlands or gone to school there, I find it very important for them to connect with other Dutch children and for our family to be part of a Dutch community, both from a language and a cultural perspective. After a Dutch preschool in Munich, we went to an international school in the UK where all kids got mother tongue lessons 5 hours per week during their normal school day. The school provided 14 different mother tongues, because their vision was that each child should first of all learn their mother tongue properly, in order to better learn any second or third language, which I strongly believe to be true. After leaving the UK we were lucky enough to end up here, where there was another great Dutch language school already in place. What better way to spend my time than to invest in my as well as other kids' language education, so I joined the board of volunteer parents, firstly organising cultural activities like Sinterklaas and King's Day and since a year as chairperson. I find it to be challenging on a personal level, because although I have led teams before, things like writing a 4-year school plan and policy to further professionalize the school or hiring new teachers in a hr capacity is new to me. Also of course the Corona-crisis has added an extra dimension of challenges, but I keep learning and that's the way I like it!
How can the Dutch Chamber be of use for De Nederlandse school?
I joined the Dutch Chamber not just for the great cultural exchanges that go on there between Sweden and the Netherlands (I am very much looking forward to the online beer tasting event for instance), but on a professional level I hope to make some connections with other members that could benefit the school and Dutch language and culture in general. Not everyone knows about the Dutch school when they first come here, and we are always working on that, lately also more on social media, but I would love for the school to be widely known and for companies that have Dutch employees to know about us. Also, being a not-for-profit foundation we are always looking for ways to connect with companies that also embrace a Dutch culture for sponsorship opportunities especially for our cultural events, to keep the school fees as low as possible and we can continue to provide high quality Dutch language education. We already have a longstanding cooperation between our school and KLM for instance, where they assist us to fly in a Dutch children's book author for the book week cultural day, or even Sinterklaas himself one time! I am looking forward to getting to know other members in person soon!
Richard van As-Jacobsson recently joined the Dutch Chamber as a new associate member. He moved to Sweden this year and works as an advisor & project manager on clean hydrogen. He would like to get in touch with other members to collaborate on hydrogen developments in Sweden. We asked him to introduce himself.
How did you end up in the Gothenburg-area?
In 2013 I met my Swedish wife Diana in Portugal. Since then we have spent our life in both Haarlem with my daughters Liza and Robin and on Styrsö with my bonus daughter Sonja. We spent a considerable amount of time on airports and planes and a bit ahead of schedule we stopped the flying and I have moved to Sweden in March of this year. As Styrsö felt like home already the transition was quite smooth, outside the fact that I still have my clients in The Netherlands and a large part of my days are spent in a Dutch online environment.
What is your professional background?
In the past 25 years I have primarily worked in consultancy and project and interim management. For 15 years I worked with Accenture, 6 years as a free lancer and 4 years with the Dutch grid company Alliander. At Alliander I got introduced to hydrogen and its potential role in the transition to a green energy system. I have been fortunate to meet the right people under the right circumstances in both The Netherlands and Sweden. I have started as a free lancer again in a role as project manager for a project on urban heating with hydrogen in the town of Stad aan ’t Haringvliet on the island of Goeree-Overflakkee. Next to this I am writing a book on hydrogen for urban heating with the Technical University of Delft and supporting the European ambitions for the hydrogen program my project is a part of.
Could you tell a bit more about your ambitions in Sweden?
First and foremost it is time to learn the language. As we have lived in Sweden and The Netherlands and are spending a significant of time in Portugal, English has been the main language in our mixed family. Now is the time to start with my Swedish lessons at home and get professional lessons after summer. While I will keep on supporting the project in The Netherlands part-time and my focus will be on starting a hydrogen project in Sweden.
In what way can the Dutch Chamber help you to achieve your ambitions?
In general I would like to get in touch with members to collaborate on hydrogen developments in Sweden. More specifically I am organising a hydrogen event together with Vätgas Sverige and the Dutch embassy in Stockholm in October. During this day, leaders in the industry will share information with the participants and networking is intertwined with a series of interactive workshops. The goals find common ground between Swedish and Dutch companies and organisations to build bilateral (trade) relations.
E.B. & M.N.
Our member Nils van Dijkman has recently been appointed Honorary Consul General for Sweden in Amsterdam. We therefore asked him tell us about his new role as consul.
What can we expect from you as a consul?
My role as the Honorary Consul General for Sweden in Amsterdam is to represent Sweden in The Netherlands. I will promote Swedish business and Swedish values and I will be the link between the consular district and the Swedish Embassy. In order to do that I will keep close connections with business and governmental organisations both in Sweden and The Netherlands. In that respect the function of the Dutch Chamber is very important; you are the Dutch connection for Business in Sweden.
What is your connection with Sweden? My mother is Swedish, so I’m raised with the Swedish culture, language, values and … amazing Swedish summers. We have a house in the Southern part of Sweden (Falsterbo/Skanör area) so we enjoy life and visiting relatives. Apart from private reasons I visit Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö regularly for business purposes.
How are you going to combine your daily work with this new role?
In my daily working life I am a partner at Heussen lawyers and civil law notaries. I have been the Chairman of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands between 2007 and 2015, so I know how to combine another role next to my work as a lawyer. The fact that I am heading the Sweden Desk of my lawfirm makes it easier for me to travel to Sweden. My experience is that when you really have a passion for something, it doesn’t feel as work. And I can easily say that I have a great passion for Sweden. I am looking forward to working together with the Board and I hope to meet my fellow members of the Dutch Chamber soon after the summer!
/E.B & M.N.
On June 4, 2020 The Swedish Ambassador to the Netherlands, H.E. Annika Markovic and the Dutch Ambassador to Sweden, H.E. Ines Coppoolse participated in a webinar that we hosted together with the Swedish Chamber.
The Ambassadors shared their insights and reflections on respective country. And in interactive discussions with the participants via breakout sessions, the opportunities for continued excellent bilateral (trade) relations were discussed and the role embassies can play to support business in the 21st Century.
Below you find the reflections on the topic written by our patron Mrs. Ambassador Ines Coppoolse.
We thank the Ambassadors for their valuable contributions, Ruben Brunsveld from Enact Sustainable Strategies (member since 2011) for the professional moderation of this webinar and the Swedish Chamber in the Netherlands for the excellent collaboration.
REFLECTIONS BY DUTCH AMBASSADOR ON THE RELATIONS BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES
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!
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!