Swedish issues: ENP, Eastern Partnership and enlargement

Sweden
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
 
Sweden has since long advocated the importance of good neighbourly relations as well as the need to give the perspective of enlargement also to European countries outside the Balkans. The Polish-Swedish proposal for Eastern Partnership is based on the view that a new impetus is needed in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). It concerns the 27 EU member states and six ENP countries: Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Belarus. (With Belarus, cooperation would take place if and when conditions allow.) Projects within this framework can also be extended to Russia.[1]
 

Praise and some criticism for the French Presidency

Sweden
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
 
The French Presidency received praise overall for its efficiency in gathering a unanimous EU view on important issues but also some criticism.
 
The climate issue agreement, while not the optimal seen from a Swedish perspective, was on the whole considered a success. Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, called it a historic agreement and stated that taking on the climate change so rapidly was one of the EU’s greatest accomplishments ever. Without this agreement, he claimed, many countries would not have done anything.[1]
 
The speed with which the EU under French leadership answered to the financial crisis has also been praised in Sweden. There are, however, also some negative points. The Minister for EU Affairs was critical of the French idea to install President Sarkozy as the Eurozone leader: “We should not build new institutions that divide Europe – in this moment we need unity, not division”.[2]
 
The Swedish view on the first version of the Mediterranean Union was negative, seeing this as an initiative that dealt with the same issues as the Barcelona Process, and therefore competing with it. With the changes undertaken, it is now rather seen as a ‘beefed-up’ version of it. The crucial factor is that the whole of the EU is now involved in the decision-making.[3]

Financial crisis: unanimity and tension

Sweden
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
 
The European Council of 16 October 2008 is commented on positively, Minister of Finance, Anders Borg, sees it to contain basic issues that Sweden sees as important, such as the national responsibility and national methods; the latter is seen as necessary because of the speed that is required in which there is no time for development of common ones. The third method is to support through governmental shareholders’ contributions, rather than loans. A fourth important point is the need for openness.[1]
 
In the continued discussions during the autumn, Sweden has fought against industry support initiatives proposed by the French Presidency. As described by Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish preferred policy is to invest instead in increased competitive ability and support for people to get new jobs.[2] The government fears that in times like these, some EU member states are tempted to support their own major companies and it also worries about protectionism among some member states of the EU. In this policy, the government gets wide support from other political parties.[3]
 

Swedish views on top priorities in transatlantic cooperation

Sweden
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
 
Relations between Europe and the United States are generally in Sweden considered as facing a particular opportunity for improvement with the new President, who in Sweden, as elsewhere in Europe, has become very popular.
 
Three particular issues can be envisaged. One of them is the American role in regard to global security. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, sees few things as more important during the coming year than to strengthen understanding between this new United States and the European Union. It is only through this partnership, he claims, that we have the possibility to take on the big global challenges – and to engage the other countries that are also decisive for success.[1]
 
Another issue often mentioned concerns the American role in overcoming the present financial crisis. For this, Sweden sees it as essential that the US choose a non-protectionist approach.[2]
 

Crucial issues for Europe and challenges for Sweden

Sweden
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

For Sweden, which is to assume the presidency of the EU on 1 July 2009, the issues related to the fate of the Lisbon Treaty and the events scheduled to take place during the year are seen both in the perspective of the development of the Union and in the perspective of their influence on the work of Sweden during the last half of the year 2009.
 
The Swedish parliament ratified the Lisbon Treaty on 20 November 2008 with 243 members supporting the proposal and 39 members against it. This outcome had been predicted – the fact that Sweden was one of the last countries to ratify did not signify that there was any doubt about the outcome.[1] 59 percent of Swedes see membership as positive (as compared to the EU average of 53 percent).[2] Some groups are, however, for various reasons critical against the Lisbon Treaty.[3]