Getting the Lisbon Treaty ratified – Swedish Presidency 2009

Sweden has historically been rather hesitant of far-reaching supranational cooperation within the EU and has to a large extent approached the EU from an intergovernmental perspective. This characterization has been gradually changing in recent years, especially so in the last two years since the centre-right coalition government has been in office. The current government has repeatedly stated that Sweden is to belong to the core of European integration.[1] Among the priorities is of course to get the reform treaty ratified, a treaty that is perceived by the government to be substantially positive. “We are very satisfied with the result”, proclaimed Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt already after the European Council meeting in June 2007.[2] In the government’s work program for EU affairs for the fall of 2007, it was further noted that it was to be a Swedish priority to work actively for the intergovernmental conference on treaty reform to execute the mandate given by the European Council.[3] The Social Democrats are equally positive to Sweden’s ratification of the treaty and neither the government nor the Social Democrats want a Swedish referendum on the issue. In contrast, as has been the repeatedly the case regarding EU issues in Sweden, the Green Party and the Left Party are of a different opinion.[4]
It was concluded in the recent annual declaration on foreign policy by the government to the parliament that “Sweden will take a proactive role in developing the European Union as a global actor, especially in peace and security policy. We want to work to ensure that the European Union is well-equipped through a broad and effective foreign policy to meet the global challenges facing Europe and the world. On this basis we also want to strengthen transatlantic cooperation.”[5]
Among the prioritized issues regarding the future of the EU – apart from sections two-four below which are all Swedish priorities – are a number of issues related to security policy broadly defined. As argued by Foreign Minister Carl Bildt in October 2007, “There are many driving forces behind [the] Reform Treaty, but perhaps the most significant one is to make it possible for our Union to strengthen its voice on global affairs by creating new institutions and instruments in the field of foreign and security affairs”.[6] The government seeks to further develop the European Security Strategy to encompass climate issues, better handle terrorist threats and increase the potential for EU leverage as a global actor.[7] This is to some extent supported by the opposition parties, although none of them are in favour of a militarization of the EU.
A specific issue regarding the future of the EU concerns the new circumstances for the rotating presidency once the reform treaty has entered into force. More specifically, the Swedish presidency in the fall of 2009 will take place in the immediate aftermath of the elections to the European Parliament as well as the installation of a new Commission that same fall. The Swedish presidency is already gathering a lot of governmental interest and energy and the tentative priorities of the three presidencies of France, the Czech Republic and Sweden signal the key issues regarding the future of the EU as seen from a Swedish perspective. There are five such prioritized areas:

·         Climate, environment and energy (“The EU has a unique possibility to show leadership in the climate issues”)
·         Employment, growth and competitiveness, including budget review
·         A more secure and open Europe
·         The Baltic Sea and relations to the EU’s near abroad
·         Enlargement and the further development of the EU as a global actor[8]
Although the opposition has yet to react substantially to these ideas it seems that in general terms there will not be much disagreement regarding these priorities, although issues of human rights protection and the militarization of the EU may be brought forward by the opposition as a way to say that the government is too lenient vis-à-vis some other actors in the EU context.

[1] For recent examples, see for instance speech by Cecilia Malmström, Minister for EU Affairs, at a presidency seminar hosted by the French government, 2007-11-17, available at: (last access: 04.03.2008); Statement of Government Policy in the Parliamentary Debate on Foreign Affairs, 2008-02-13, availeble at: (last access: 04.03.2008).

[2] ”Detta betyder EU-beslutet”, Svenska Dagbladet, 2007-06-23, available at: (last access: 04.03.2008).

[3] The Swedish government’s work program for the EU, fall 2007, pp. 2-3, available at: (last accesss: 04.03.2008).

[4] Available at: (website of the Green Party); available at: (website of the Left Party), last access: 04.03.2008.

[5] Statement of Government Policy, 2008-02-13.

[6] Speech by Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs, at “The Bosphorus Conference: The EU and Turkey – Drifting Apart?”, 2007-10-06, available at: (last accesss: 04.03.2008), see also his article in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, “Nu måste vi göra EU till en militär fredsmakt” [Now we must turn the EU into a military force for peace], 2008-01-02, available at: (last accesss: 04.03.2008). Also see speech by Cecilia Malmström, Minister for EU Affairs, “EU- hur ska den gemensamma försvars- och säkerhetspolitiken utvecklas?” [The EU – how is the common defense and security policy to be developed?], 2008-01-13, available at: (last accesss: 04.03.2008).

[7] Statement of Government Policy in the Parliamentary Debate on Foreign Affairs, 2008-02-13, available at: (last accesss: 04.03.2008); also see Bildt, “Nu måste vi göra EU till en militär fredsmakt”, 2008-01-02 and Malmström, “EU- hur ska den gemensamma försvars- och säkerhetspolitiken utvecklas?, 2008-01-13.

[8] Speech by Cecilia Malmström, Minister for EU Affairs, in the Swedish parliament concerning the Swedish Council Presidency, 2008-01-24, available at: (last accesss: 04.03.2008). Also, Malmström, French government presidency seminar, 2007-11-17.