Sweden: What happened in 2019 and significant events in 2020
Corporate and Commercial
Foreign Direct Investments: In March, the EU adopted Regulation (EU) 2019/452 for the screening of foreign direct investments (FDI) into the Union. It aims to provide a common framework for limiting influence over the EU’s strategically important sectors from outside the union, such as China and Russia. The regulation provides a structure for co-operation and exchange of information about FDIs likely to affect security or public order. The Regulation applies from 11 October 2020. The Swedish government is preparing legislation on FDI in Sweden, focusing on immovable property and important infrastructure such as airports and ports.
Shareholder Rights Directive: The Swedish implementation of the EU Shareholder Rights Directive (EU) 2017/828 came into force in June. This resulted e.g. in: a new chapter in the Swedish Companies Act (Sw. Aktiebolagslagen (2005:551)) with a special decision-making arrangement for “significant transactions with related parties”; more detailed provisions for remuneration to senior executives; and provisions stating that public listed companies must submit a report at the annual general meeting on the remuneration received by senior executives during the past financial year.
Prospectus regulation: EU Prospectus Regulation (EU) 2017/1129 came into force in July. It establishes requirements for the preparation, approval and distribution of prospectuses to be published when securities are offered to the public or admitted to trading on a regulated market within the EU. At the same time, a Swedish act with supplementary provisions (Sw. lagen (2019:414) med kompletterande bestämmelser till EU:s prospektförordning) on investigative and intervention powers granted to the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Sw. Finansinspektionen) came into force.
Nasdaq First North became a SME Growth Market: In connection with the introduction of MiFID II, the EU introduced a new type of trading platform called SME Growth Market. On 1 September, Nasdaq First North changed its status to an SME Growth Market. This means that certain regulatory requirements are eased. For example, the requirements for storing insider information are lowered and the requirements on prospectuses for issues and list changes do not have to be as comprehensive as before.
Significant GDPR fines: The Information Commissioner has announced her intention to fine BA £183m and Marriott £99m for breach of the EU General Data Protection Regulation after they suffered a cyber-attack. In Sweden the Swedish data protection authority (Sw. Datainspektionen) issued its first GDPR fine. The fine of SEK 200,000, combined with a warning, concerned the use of facial recognition technology to monitor the attendance of students at a public school. Even though the facial recognition technology was only used for a limited testing period, several GDPR articles were deemed to have been violated and the prior consents had not been given on a valid legal basis.
European Parliament voted in favour of copyright articles: After years of negotiation and debate, the European parliament voted in favour of Articles 15 and 17 as part of the new directive on copyright (Directive (EU) 2019/790). These two articles within the new directive have sparked major controversy and have been dubbed “the link tax” and “the meme ban”. Critics are worried that the new directive will drastically impede the freedom of the internet, and in particular, the possibility to upload content to social media platforms. The directive is due to have been adopted and implemented by the EU Member States by 2021.
Obligations concerning industrial peace in workplaces extended: Amendments to the Employment (Co-Determination in the Workplace) Act (Sw. lag (1976:580) om medbestämmande i arbetslivet) came into force. The amendments ensure that the employee’s right to initiate or participate in an industrial action against an employer bound by a collective agreement can only be exercised under certain conditions.