Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to the Royal Palace.
The fact that the Council of Presidents is meeting in Stockholm is of particular significance to my country. Sweden has a long tradition in fostering entrepreneurship and promoting innovative businesses. Alfred Nobel, whose memory we will celebrate starting next week with the prize bearing his name, was a true entrepreneur in the Swedish tradition.
The past year has been difficult for Europe and the world. The global economic recession has had negative effects on growth and job creation. Global trade and investment have decreased. However, there are signs of a recovery on the horizon.
This has also been a decisive year for Europe. The future institutions of the European Union are taking shape. The European project can now move forward in a more efficient manner.
European business has a key role in ensuring continued prosperity of our continent. Business and entrepreneurship are important pillars of our European economic model, a model which has showed its strength in good as well as in more difficult economic times.
Next week the Copenhagen summit on climate change begins. This presents an important challenge to us all. Research, innovation and entrepreneurship will be crucial for shifting our societies toward sustainable growth with low greenhouse gas emissions. European business has a responsibility to take part in the efforts to make this happen.
Europe is competitive and can proudly demonstrate the very best in many fields. European business has an important role to play in making sure that Europe will continue in this direction, thus laying the foundation for a brighter tomorrow for future generations.
I wish you the best of success for your meeting tomorrow in the City Hall. I am convinced that your work will contribute to continued prosperity and well-being of this continent and its citizens.
Let me conclude by once again welcoming you to Stockholm.