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'Sweden should support Cameron's EU vision'

23 Jan 2013, 14:21

Published: 23 Jan 2013 14:21 GMT+01:00

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British Prime Minister David Cameron gave one of his most anticipated speeches on Wednesday; a speech about the country's relationship with the EU.

The debate in Britain about the EU may seem foreign for a Swede, but the speech will have enormous consequences for the rest of the EU and for Sweden in particular.

In order to resolve the debt crisis in some of the eurozone countries, solutions were proposed involving everything from common financial and banking regulations to a common budget.

Both the UK and Sweden are thus faced with a new and existential dilemma: should we participate or not?

Swedish Minister of Finance Anders Borg has made the correct assessment that Sweden should do as the British and stay out of the banking union agreed to by EU leaders in December.

But in the wake of the crisis, there is now a risk that the EU will become a political extension of the euro area, at the expense of the EU internal market.

As a result of the stranglehold taken over the economy, the eurozone countries can start writing rules for all EU countries by using their built-in majority in the EU decision-making machinery.

Examples of these rules are the future capitalization requirements for banks, where Sweden's line so far has been to protect taxpayers against potential bank collapses.

Other countries on the continent want to have different rules.

Such a "club within a club" would force the British out of the EU. Sweden may then have to choose between joining the common currency, which up to 80 percent of Swedes oppose, or being relegated to a second-class member of the EU.

To avoid this situation, Sweden must now, along with other like-minded states, actively work to create a space in the EU for the countries that do not want to join the euro, but still want to be active members, as well as for a new, more flexible model for the EU.

We at the think tank Open Europe served as a sounding board for Cameron when he was writing his speech.

In this speech, he used strong words directed at his European colleagues: the status quo in Europe is simply not an option. Cameron pointed to three challenges: the euro crisis, the EU's declining position in the global economy, and the need to anchor European cooperation among voters - a need that is most acute in the UK, but found in many other places as well.

He promises a fundamental reform of the EU if he is re-elected, followed by a referendum on whether the country should remain an EU member.

An EU without Britain would be bad news for Sweden.

The single market would shrink by 15 percent and hurt Swedish growth. Swedish exports to the UK, which last year amounted to nearly 140 billion kronor ($21.4 billion), would likely be exposed to trade barriers.

Approximately 160 billion kronor would disappear from the EU budget, which must be made up for in part by even greater contributions from Swedish taxpayers.

Sweden would also lose its by far most important ally for a liberal and outward-looking Europe.

Without Britain, Europe's free trade bloc of Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark loses its ability to block unwanted decisions in the EU Council of Ministers in matters determined by so-called qualified majority.

Europe's centre of gravity would be moved sharply in a more protectionist direction. The British, with their place in the UN Security Council, would constitute something of a second European voice in matters of global peace and security. The legitimacy of the EU would be reduced.

So how should Sweden deal with these challenges?

Firstly, the Swedish government needs to realize that the British are not the core problem, nor are Cameron's attempts to reform the EU.

The biggest threat comes instead from the countries that refuse to admit that the EU as it stands today is no longer up to scratch. With or without Cameron at the helm, Britain will eventually hold a referendum on EU membership.

According to several opinion polls, a majority of Britons already want to leave. If voters are forced to choose between being sucked into the gravitational field of the euro pact, or having no Europe at all, the British will likely say "no, thanks."

However, if new, better-adapted terms for the EU are presented as a viable option, all the surveys show that most Britons want to remain.

But there is another important reason why Sweden should back up Cameron's EU vision. It is consistent with what most Swedes instinctively know. The EU is basically a strong and good idea, but must change if it is to remain globally competitive and regain the confidence of Europe's voters.

Above all, Sweden must work to make the EU more flexible. One cannot sit in Brussels and use the same standards when making decisions that affect big and small. Countries may need to work at different levels in different areas. This is by far the best way to reconcile the need (perceived or actual) for more joint decisions in the euro area, with the strong feelings among voters in countries such as Sweden and the UK that the EU meddles too much.

Where there is a clear democratic or economic case for the EU to do less, it must be possible to roll-back power from Brussels to the member states. Membership in the EU can't be a one-way street from where members can never return no matter how wrong they think decisions are.

For example, rules about working hours are best managed nationally or locally, not in Brussels, where 27 very different labour market models are gathered under one roof. Environment policy needs more overarching goals and fewer detailed aims. It is important to stop the often remarkable regional subsidies where money circulates between the rich countries of Europe. Not to mention agriculture subsidies, which are in need of a major overhaul.

At the same time, the EU should continue with what it does best: enabling and maximizing free trade and the free movement of people, services, capital, and goods.

In order to save EU cooperation, Sweden must now take on the role of a bridge between Berlin and London, in a new Anglo-German dialogue, based on international trade, sound finances, and respect for the rules.

But for this to happen, Sweden must modernize its own EU debate. It is as if Sweden still clings to an old world view, where the EU is all about Yes or No.

Some leading centre-right politicians still seem to think that criticism of the EU's everyday means they "aren't supporting the vision."

That's nonsense.

On the contrary, now the path is open for a third way for the EU, between an uncritical yes and an old-fashioned no. This third way has been brought to the forefront by economic and strong political forces.

So the question for Sweden is clear: now that Europe is going through fundamental changes, should Sweden continue to advocate for a centralized 1950s-model for the EU, designed for six similar economies?

Or should Swedes instead develop ideas for a new flexible, democratically sustainable and competitive EU structure, ready to tackle this century?

It is this light that Sweden should view David Cameron's speech and Britain's fight for change in the EU. Sweden has nothing to fear, but everything to gain, if it plays its cards right.

Mats Persson is the president of Open Europe, a think tank with offices in London and Brussels set up by leading UK business people to contribute positive new thinking to the debate about the future direction of the European Union.

This article was originally published in Swedish in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper. Translation by The Local.

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Your comments about this article

16:43 January 23, 2013 by gumbojinx
i think it would probably be a good idea to show great caution in supporting anyone who described themselves as 'son of thatcher'.
16:53 January 23, 2013 by AquamanUK
A perspective from inside the 'fishbowl' of the UK.

Camer-looney did not give a referendum option of IN / OUT.

IN being deeper, further integration of the EU with the UK at the core with Germany, etc.

NO, Camer-looney, made the statement today to kill and destroy the UKIP party. Without a cause, their one cause, he has effectively castrated the Imbicile Little Englander Git. By the time of the Next UK General Election in May 2015:

UKIP = extinct

Lib-Dem Party = Extinct (for breaking election pledges and raising University tuition to £9000 per year), they are un-electable. Even the past 3 by-elections they did not even achieve 5% of the vote.

With the Great REMINDER of what a Rightwingnut Conservative (Tory) Government is like - all those who were not born or were too young to remember the last one - They KNOW now and 2015 will be a Labour Landslide Election.

The only hope Camer-looney has for any seats is Scotland voting Independent in 2014 as that will be 59 Less MP's in Westminster (Only ONE is a Tory).

It is not about the EU, it is all about INTERNAL Politics and eliminating two political parties.

I do not think Swedish Politicians are stupid enough to use the EU as a way to get political leverage within Sweden.
17:30 January 23, 2013 by Steve Potts
The people of the UK voted to join a 'Common Market' not a corrupt bureacratic superstate. The UK has a trading inbalance with the EU so like some other countries the UK will want to renegotiate its current position and get some powers returned to the UK parliament. If this does not occur the UK will leave the EU but the rest of Europe will still have to have free trade agreements with us. It's a win win situation.
18:09 January 23, 2013 by AquamanUK
IF the UK chose the Exit Path, all those who think/believe - the UK can just have a NAFTA with the EU... are mistaken. The rest who are in the EU club will slap on 100% tariff's on all Imports from UK, end the right to freedom of movement of people from the UK into EU (everyone will have to have a Visa just to go to France or Spain and the fee anyone from UK will have to pay could be over €1000's per visit. Right to work in EU - ENDED. British workers will have to apply for Visa's to work in EU just as anyone from Nigeria or Brazil. Only after the position has been advertised locally, nationally, and EU wide and when NO ONE is suitable - only then would a British Citizen be eligible to be hired.

End of Holiday/Retirement homes in sunnier Climates. It will be like buying a property in USA, a person has to leave the USA every 3 months and would have to re-apply for a visa to re-enter.

Any financial transactions with the EU would be subject to tariff/taxes that would go TO the EU (not shared back to the UK).

So if the 'Little Englander's' want to be a isolated Island in the middle of the Atlantic - where not even the USA/Canada would want anything to do businesswise as UK would be irrelevant to the Much larger Much Greater Economic Club of the EU.

Anyone thinking the UK can Dictate to the EU as if it is the Victorian British Empire - are grossly mistaken. Punishment for being a spoilt brat child will be short sharp harsh and LONG TERM.

The above is just a drop in bucket as to What the EU can do to Punish a country who chooses to turn it's back on the Greatest Humanity Project in History.

ps. When joining a club, the club changes as it is called EVOLUTION. Do you think the USA are the same original 13 colonies with their Articles of Confederation they started out to be in their first few decades of existence, the Federal USA did not begin on day one - it was Decades/centuries in the making.

Odd that a Social, Economic, Political etc UNION is perfectly fine to those in Westminster when it is England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, etc etc... It is just when a rich white boys old Etonian Club is running every aspect of UK Government - they want to have even more power and control over their would be 'Serfs'!
20:00 January 23, 2013 by Rick 1

i think it would probably be a good idea to show great caution in supporting anyone who described themselves as 'son of thatcher'.

I think you mean "son of Blair". He has far more in common with the Labour socialist quislings that have destroyed so much in such a short time.
20:18 January 23, 2013 by Steve Potts

As there is a trade inbalance with the EU and UK in the EU's facvour then the UK will get a free trade agreement with the EU just like the Swiss have. The German car companies like BMW and VW will soon be onto Mrs. M if this does not happen. The UK can imposae trade tarrifs as well. It is a win win situation.
21:11 January 23, 2013 by deenforcer
This is much ado about nothing. David Cameron is a charlatan that selling snake oil to the gullible people hoping to get reelected for the the second time that's all, nothing more. When a politician promises something that will happen in 5 years and you believe him or her, then you are the dumbest of the the dumbs.
21:57 January 23, 2013 by RobinHood
The European project has gone absolutey splendidly so far. I'm sure the bankrupt economies of Spain, greece and Cyprus are just a glitch. And so is the fifty percent youth unemployment rate in those countries. As for the impending economic collapse of France and Italy, that's just a small problem too.

I can't understand why the Brits, who currently have the fourth largest economy in Europe, want to get out before they they go bankrupt too. It's a complete mystery. Wrecking your national economy seems a small price to pay for membership of this fine confederation.
22:23 January 23, 2013 by AquamanUK
@steve potterhead...

the UK exports far more to the EU than it imports, so with a 100% tariff or HIGHER on all UK exports to the EU, the UK would have to 'give money to consumers' to buy EU products. Yes the UK can Impose tariffs, but to do so would turn the UK from what was worlds number 1 economy, number2, number 3... currently number 7.. (barely in the G8).. so be lucky as a 'little englander' Island in the ISOLATED middle of the Atlantic to not even be in the top 100.

Camer-looney did not offer his list of dictacts or a NO/OUT vote for the betterment of the EU, he did it for political expedience! By calling a referendum, under x y z conditions - he castrated the TeaBagger/ UKIP's! And with the Lib-Dem's becoming extinct at the next election due to broken promises/signed pledges...

and the loss of 58 of 59 Scottish MP's that are NO Rightwing Tory's...

Camer-looney is grasping at straws. Putting out his election manifesto 2 years before the election, which as history dictates - is almost a year Too Early.

He knows he does not stand a snow ball in a hot fire-y place of getting re-elected - so he can say what ever he wants just to as they say in usa - 'Stir the Kool-Aid'.

Show intellectual and Political maturity and watch what the LEFT hand is doing when the Right hand is waving all over with x y z nothingness.....!!!
23:14 January 23, 2013 by godnatt
Countries can have free trade and immigration agreements without having to belong to a faceless bureacracy hell bent on taking the power away from sovereign democratically elected govts.

The EU or high tariffs aren't the only options despite what the rocket scientists here at the local would like to pretend.

This idiotic experiment is thankfully going to come to an end in the near future.
00:05 January 24, 2013 by riose
To put things in context: 11 countries in the EU have adopted the Tobin Tax a couple of days ago.

This goes against tax havens (The City, Luxembourg, etc...), and in favour of the rest of Europe.
09:11 January 24, 2013 by RobinHood

Please would you explain to me how driving half the population of Europe into destitution and unemployment, benefits either them, or the other half? . I hear the unemployment figures in Spain and Greece, I see tens of millions of Europeans (and rising) without proper healthcare, employment or benefits, I see minor and even major European nations in a state of economic collapse, one with an unelected emergency government imposed on it by Germany. I see Europeans living in poverty at levels of degradation and need unseen in a hundred years. i see fascists marching in the streets of Athens.

I'm a bit confused. If you don't mind me saying, the EU looks to me like the greatest disaster to wealth and democracy suffered by Europe since the second world war, and if it gets any worse, since the black plague.

Please explain to me why a return to the dark ages of unelected leaders, fascism and poverty is in fact a good thing?
11:43 January 24, 2013 by AquamanUK
We are all Europeans, somethimg to celebrate but not to bash and use as the excuse for economic problems, Especially when the current economic problems of most countries and the EU all can be traced back to one root cause- the USA dumping worthless AAA subprime Bonds on the world, to allow slum lords in usa to dispose of properties they could do nothing with. Seel them to sitting tenants, flexible rate mortgages, so when interest rates went up 3 times in 4 months, they could no longer afford the shotgun row houses. This debt was stacked divided, restacked redivided and when literally over night, they became worthless. Every country suffering the most at the moment had deeply invested into these CDO's and ever CDS's - thereby doubling the debt amount.

There was nothing wrong with these countrirs economies, just they had their current account reserves evaporated with no notice And govt functions still have to continue and be psid. It is not just the club med EU states, nor the EU, it os a global problem. And If you think the EU has a rough time (that will pass In Time) - look closely at the US
12:27 January 24, 2013 by RobinHood
@ AquamanUK

I'm sorry, but you haven't answered my question at all. You have said nothing about the rise of fascism in Greece, or the undemocratic imposition of a head of government in Italy. The total collapse of the economies of Greece, Hungary, Cyprus and Spain cannot be adequately explained by a subprime scandal in the US. Not a single economist believes that.

Your statement that "There was nothing wrong with these countrirs[SIC] economies" is ridiculous. These countries bankrupted themselves years ago. Their millions of citizens live in poverty and will continue to do so for decades. I suspect your suggestion that their troubles "will pass in time" will not placate them. Particularly as more and more European countries are heading in the same direction; things are getting worse, not better.

Your comparison with the US is disingenuous; nowhere in the US has a health service collapsed (Greece) is unemployment at 35% and youth unemployment over 55% (Cyprus, Greece and Spain). You have to go way back in history to find figures as bad as this anywhere at all, in all of history.

Now once again; why is economic collapse, fascism, unelected leadership, destitution, unemployment and rampant corruption a good thing? Tens of millions of Europeans need an answer, please be precise.
16:50 January 24, 2013 by AquamanUK
I did not answer because You are DELUDED! and cant see the facts.

This entire global financial Economic Situation is Entirely down to the Dumping of subprime (worthless) mortgages - as bonds on the world market.

Obviously you do not, nor ever have working in 'the City' in London or you would know the facts and realities of the situation but you are far too caught up in drinking the blood of the rightwingnut politicians who try to blame ALL the UK, EU etc Economic problems on this state or that state.

Odd how 2.5 years ago the UK govt was praising the Spainish govt for it's diligence in how their financial services function, now they are a Praia by the press and politicians.

I do not expect simpleton's and imbicles to understand Macro-Economic global Economics, just do not try to be a kindergarten pupil telling a PhD person (in relevance) how you think things work - just because you have had it said to you 1001 times - that is all it takes to make an imbicile believe fantasy is fact. It is not.

I would go into great detail, but you and other reader's would - instantly stop reading when they can not understand nor comprehend Financial Products and how they were dumped on the 'selected' global market' by the USA. So you can go back to you delusions of little Englander drinking from the contamined cup of the tory's. Those of us with intelligence, saw it coming, saw it happen, and now have to live with the consequences and people like yourself who fail to comprehend the entire 2008/9 global economic collapse was the fault of the USA.
18:27 January 24, 2013 by jjoensuu
So UK could well get a free trade agreement with the EU just like the Swiss have, if they completely left EU.

However that would leave UK in a situation similar to that of the Swiss: that you end up having to follow regulations set up by the larger block without having any authority to affect the decisions. In this case UK would become subject to regulations made by EU and could also become subject to pressure from EU in other issues (with the threat that e.g. the free trade agreement is affected if UK does not comply).

So in order to keep the "best of both worlds" (for themselves) UK prefers to push for an EU where they can stay as a member. This gives them more visibility into what is going on in EU politics and a better chance to lobby for or against decisions as they see fit.
08:11 January 25, 2013 by godnatt

Yes, every problem of the EU -- the Southern nations' inability to collect taxes, the anger of the subjugation of democratic national sovereignty, the absurdity of one monetary policy for the entire continent, etc...is entirely, 100% because of securitization.

It's America's fault.

Brilliant analysis. You are clearly the superior intellect you claim to be.
08:36 January 25, 2013 by RobinHood
@ Aquaman

Thank you for your post. It tells the users of this forum all we need to know about you.
09:34 January 25, 2013 by deenforcer
I wonder if the EU would send in tanks to crush the uprisings in the future just like the Soviet Union did in Hungary in 1956? I wonder if the EUphiles Are willing to die for what they believe? Because the Nationalists will, and all they need is a little fire inside that's all.
15:38 January 25, 2013 by james_g
AquamanUK - you are obviously a blinkered religious fanatic where EU is god. To Steve Potts and anyone else who hasn't got the facts straight - the people of the UK did NOT vote to join a even a 'Common Market'; they were never given that chance. A small majority of those who cast a vote in that referendum, i.e. a very definite minority of the electorate, voted not to LEAVE the Common Market, after a very heavily 'Common Market' and UK government funded scare propaganda campaign which threatened armageddon if the people of the UK dared to vote other than the way their masters told them.
11:18 January 26, 2013 by Marc the Texan
The EU is a massive sinking ship looking at another decade of decline. No idea why anyone in Sweden or Britain would want to be strapped to that sinking hulk. Sweden and Britain should be focused on extracting themselves from the EU and negotiating their own free trade agreements around the world and better reciprocal immigration agreements with the US, Canada and Australia. That is all that Sweden needs and it's all that Britain needs. Europe will eventually come begging for deals.
14:20 January 26, 2013 by HelmiVainikka
"If you don't mind me saying, the EU looks to me like the greatest disaster to wealth and democracy suffered by Europe since the second world war, and if it gets any worse, since the black plague. "

And that is exactly how it is, but hey...they won the Nobel Pee Prize so all is perfect. Nothing to see there, move along!

Norway saw it coming and took actions and how well are they doing today? Ah yeah, perfectly fine.

The EU is the biggest crock of sh!t since sliced bread.
15:41 January 26, 2013 by godnatt

Haha.... Spot on.
18:47 January 26, 2013 by Steve Potts

You are wrong when you say that the UK exports more to the EU than it imports. The UK imports £5 Billion more from the EU than it exports - hence the rush to give the UK free trade agreements. Win Win situation...

Also, the latest Scottish Indepedence poll shows those in favour at 23% only.
19:06 January 26, 2013 by Gustav Jung
Cameron is a cowardly nit-wit - we don't want Sweden to encourage him.
11:55 January 27, 2013 by AquamanUK
Global Economic Depression 101..

Lets call you person A and person A earns a salary of €60k pa. (€5k per month).

From this there are things that have to be paid: taxes, mortgage or rent, utilities (gas, electric, water/sewerage), local community charges/council tax, FOOD, Transportation, Insurance (home, possessions, car), Car taxes, etc etc etc

Of your €5k per month, you are thrifty and you manage to save 10% of your take home income that you had invested.

BUT along comes a CDO & CDS - they take from your bank account €200,000.

Leaving you with nothing in your account, even though you have just been paid.

Add to this you still have all your usual monthly obligations from Mortgage and Transport etc...

You still have a good job, you still have income but because 200k was removed from your account you can not pay these things. Your neighbours and family were with a different bank and did not have their money taken leaving them ok when You are in DEBT now as you have to pay the difference between what you did have in the bank and the amount taken.

All your neighbours, friends, family - tell you - you are just bad at managing your money, you must cut back on your spending. You must stop spending money on this and that as you obviously can not afford it. (personal austerity)

You still have all the same financial obligations but you are either or about to be Bankrupt. Having your friends and family keep insulting you by saying - It is All your Fault.

All small countries who had bought the 'sham' subprime AAA rated bonds from the USA, had all their investment become NIL over night, then to add insult to injury these Bonds were 'insured' so the insurer's had to pay again. called a double whammy.

You say that Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Iceland, etc are all responsible for their current situation as they obviously can not manage there own state of affairs.

They are like person A as described above, they still had income (tax base) they also still have their fiscal obligations - money it takes to run a government and it's services.

Those who condemn and criticise the countries are acting like the neighbours, friends and family of person A - as described above.
15:19 January 27, 2013 by deenforcer
Let the automatics settle this one day shall we? We all know what they said...all roads are leading to Rome...right?
15:21 January 27, 2013 by useronthenet
I think if the UK left the EEC, it would becme totally isolated and without a voice, Most of the industry in the UK is foreign-owned which would mean that this could relocate into the EEC where conditions would favour them better. The EEC could punish Britain for trying to weaken the European Union. Britian would literally become 'little' Britiain. The French and the Germans are right, you cannot pick and choose and what you want in the EEC is not like an a la carte menu. Unfortunately UK thinks the EEC must change when in fact Britain's attitude towards Europe must change.
19:36 January 27, 2013 by AquamanUK
posting on her takes numerous attempts???

All the hype and propaganda about end of the world, end of the EU, with dictators etc... I can easily imagine you were worried about the Y2K, the Mayan end of world, and every other urban myth scare mongering that thrives is such petty minds.

I have met more Swedish people's than I can remember and none seem to be as xenophobic as the little Englander's who wish to live in splendid isolation on an island in the middle of the atlantic - but yet dictate to the world.

So yeah say England does leave the EU, England will still have to follow the rules and regulations of the common market - or products will not be allowed into the common market. Do you want lead in your paint on childrens toys?

English are all for EU regulations when it meant holiday's could be taken anywhere in the EU and know the drinking water has to meet a minimum standard of quality. And sewerage is treated before being dumped in the sea (although the UK still dumps raw - untreated sewerage into the sea, making swimming in it - a hazard).

How many little Englander's are going to be up in arms when they have to follow all these rules and regulations but they as a non member of the EU - have NO say in the rules?

And to those who say they never voted in a referendum, do states of Australia or Canadian Provinces or even states of the USA have to have a referendum every generation, because the current population did not get a say in the club?

No one in England is demanding a Referendum on England staying in the UK!

If a common market, common currency union, political union is good enough for the English in the UK - why are the vocal minority, and yes they are vocal and yes they are in the Minority in UK - trying to get England out of the EU. Scotland is a committed member of the EU, via the UK and hopefully when they have unleashed the shackles of England - they will be on par with the Netherlands and Ireland, at the heart/core of the EU.

I do enjoy reading the rants of Doomsday Preppers. lol Have all the DDP's stocked up with 2 or is it 10 years worth of food and water to survive the end of the modern era - if you are NOT a person happy /content living in the EU with all it's right's for Citizens (not just BUSINESS) - I suggest you move to Rhodesia and live in Zimbabwe under Mugabe and then you might appreciate what WE as EUROPEANS HAVE!

The EU is not going to collapse. The amount that was taken from the Greeks for example, could easily be given by the Germans or French to 'refresh' their bank account as with Person A above. But it makes good political headlines and it gives naysayers something to argue about and detract each from the real issues in their life.

So carry on, I am enjoying ... I would say rhetoric but it is just mindless parroting of right-wing nut fanatics.

And CHERRY PICKING is Not the solution, closer integration IS!
07:25 January 28, 2013 by deenforcer
I think the "right-wing nut fanatics" should begin to do the "CHERRY PICIKING" and they should begin with people like this dykhead here...know what I mean? He is either a cockeyed optimist or he just too doomb to understand the human nature, that's why he barks too loud in here. He reminds me of the people that once lived behind the Iron Curtain, those too were barking even louder, but where are they now?
17:43 January 28, 2013 by The Grand Master
Mr Aquaman.

You are either a total wind up merchart or totally delusional. You do realize that the vast majority of the British public want at MINIMUM a looser relationship with the EU? In fact most polls show a majority for withdrawal. Except for yourself and a few lunatic fringe Lib Dems there is nobody calling for greater integration in the UK.

Even Labour's policy chief John Cruddas is calling for a referendum, it's not just those on the right of British politics demanding a change. Some of the EU's fiercest critics are from the left.

There will be a new settlement and looser ties between London and Brussels, of that you can be sure.
06:33 January 29, 2013 by dukesy
First of all...`im not and never was a supporter of Thatcher,i think she was a disaster for the UK,her attitude on occasions was more `dictator` than `prime minister` and im not a `tory` Conservative supporter....more neutral,having a deep distrus of MP`s and Councillors.

I personally would vote to stay in the EU,if you want to achieve change its always easier to do from the inside,and not if your seen as a `foreigner`.

But,as was mentioned by the Swedish press..Dagens Nyheter, I would oppose any move to change from our own currency,`£` to the euro. I believe from a friend who lives in Stockholm,that the vote the Swedish people had resulted in a reaounding NO to the `euro`, Im afraid I would do similar.

I would also want the UK governed by `our` own elected parliament,and not by some faceless beurocrat in Brussels,making dissions affecting US who may or nor even be able to speak English. Before any comment is made, I am not having a go at the German Chancellor Angela Merkel,who I believe can speak `english`,but prefers not to.

I also believe that to leave the EU would not help anyone,including Britain,and after all the EU does have more to do than try to meddle in member states affairs. After all it has played an important role in keeping the peace through out Europe for 60 years,so its not that bad.

However,and theres alot of things David Cameron is doing that I do not support, But I do support him in refusing to give up our `British Sovereignty`...for me that is non negociable,and talking to some `locals` about it a few weeks ago in Stockholm...I think the Swedish view is the same.

The Brits I believe,as with the Swedes,want to remain in EU,but not at the cost of giving up both countries `Sovereignty,currency and independance to those in Brussels.

No offence to anyone intended....but in thr 1940`s, most of our countries fought a war agianst a certain `idological idiot` who thought he cought tell everyone what to do,how to do it,and when to do it, that was one reason for forming the EU,so nothing like that could happen again....so why would I want the UK, `My Country` ruled by Brussels......Answer to that is I Dont.

We have enough faceless burocrats trying to tell us what to do or making stupid rules up.....we dont need any help that way from Brussels.

Like was it straigh bananas,or square tomatoes.

We need EU for trade,and also peace keeping,...if everyone is standing and working together,the EU is a good thing....but trying to meddle in members affairs,or impose rules and regulations on people without support is no good to anyone.l
05:51 January 30, 2013 by Marc the Texan
Lack of territorial ambitions has kept the peace in Europe for the past 60 years. Crediting the EU with European peace is baseless.
14:20 January 30, 2013 by cogito
"After all it has played an important role in keeping the peace through out Europe for 60 years (32)"

@dukesy: How'd they do in Bosnia? The important role in ending that bloody conflict was played by America, while all those peaceful Europeans stood by and watched the slaughter.
22:49 January 30, 2013 by Coalbanks
Does one size fit all? Can the EU expect to survive if some members don't pull their own weight? Some assistance is acceptable, we assist "have-not" provinces in Canada but each province has some degree of autonomy within the federal system. We may be in much the same position as EU as NAFTA and GATT regulations exert increasing amount of control over our national values, beliefs, rules and customs.
21:27 February 1, 2013 by dibble
RobinHood at 18, you summed it up. What a plonker he is. Fortunately the majority of the British people disagree with him. (AquamanUK).
Today's headlines
Sweden has fourth happiest workers in the world: report
Is Swedish fika the secret? Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Sweden is home to the fourth happiest workers in the world, an international survey has claimed.

Here's how much Ikea staff are getting for Christmas
Christmas comes early for Ikea staff. Photo: Vegard Wivestad Grøtt/NTB scanpix/TT

Staff at Ikea are getting an early Christmas treat in the form of millions of euros to share between them.

Sweden threatens action to stop Facebook 'hate and lies'
Should Facebook crack down on hate speech? Photo: AP Photo/dapd, Timur Emek

Sweden could impose legal obligations on Facebook as a last resort if the social network does not crack down on hate speech and fake news, the culture and democracy minister has threatened.

In pictures
This is what Sweden's new Icehotel looks like
An artist's impression of the hotel in winter. Photo: PinPin Studio/Icehotel

The famous Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi has just opened its new year-round section. Have a look at some of the first pictures of one of the world's most unusual hotels here.

The Local List
Sweden's pioneering free press act turns 250
It doesn't look bad for 250 years old. Photo: Regeringen

On the day of its 250th anniversary, The Local looks at five facts worth knowing about Sweden's groundbreaking Freedom of the Press Act.

Beware ice, Swedes warned after string of accidents
File photo of a Swedish car not related to the story. Photo: Tomas Oneborg / SvD / TT

Swedes have been warned to be on their guards as stretches of the country's southern roads turned into ice rinks due to the chilly temperatures, causing a string of car accidents.

The Local List
Ten things you should never say to a Swede
These things are guaranteed to anger Swedes. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

The Local List
Seven bizarre Swedish academic traditions
Student life in Lund, southern Sweden. Photo: Johan Nilsson/SCANPIX

The Local guides you through Sweden's ancient universities' top academic traditions all foreign students need to know about.

Swedish study: Virtual reality relieves phantom limbs
A man testing the software used in the study. Photo: Ortiz-Catalan et al/ The Lancet

A new study by Gothenburg's Chalmers University shows that training a virtual arm in virtual reality can relieve the phantom limb pain suffered by amputees.

The Local Recipes
Christmas recipe: Swedish saffron buns with almonds
Swedish saffron buns with chocolate and almonds. Photo: Swedish Food/John Duxbury

Food writer John Duxbury shares his new take on an old Swedish favourite: saffron buns with added chocolate and almond paste.

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Smart songwriters: Sweden's next big music export?
Final proof that Sweden has NOT banned Christmas lights
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Why Stockholm attracts so much talent from abroad
IN PICTURES: Stockholm's new myth-busting Viking museum
The Local Voices
Job market matchmaker hooks up 1,300 newcomers and Swedes
Blog updates

14 November

Hello darkness, my old friend (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"I started thinking about November’s blog for The Local at the end of October, as the…" READ »


6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »

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