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Reinfeldt: EU must open doors to foreign labour - and new members

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16:09 CET+01:00
The European Union must attract labour from other parts of the world if it is to function in future, according to Sweden's prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. In a policy speech at Europahuset in Stockholm on Monday, Reinfeldt claimed that Sweden has already prepared itself for such a scenario.

"Otherwise, the way forward is inevitable. The EU's member states will need to raise their taxes drastically, with negative effects both for growth and for welfare," said Reinfeldt, who also demanded a more streamlined EU budget.

Reinfeldt called for Europe to become a "beacon of freedom" towards the east as in previous decades but now also towards countries in North Africa.

"It is about inspiring, and that means giving support," said Reinfeldt, claiming that "democratic values" are one of Europe's most important and most valuable export products. These values are shared with the US, he emphasised.

"In the light of the political and economic shakeup in the world it is more important than ever that the EU and the US stand together to uphold these universal values and together speak up for freedom and democracy," said Reinfeldt, who stressed that the EU must also stand up for its values when dealing with countries such as China and Russia.

The prime minister also argued that countries in the Balkans, as well as Turkey and Iceland, should be welcomed as full EU members as soon as they fulfil the conditions.

"I am convinced that it will be barely possible to conceive of the EU as a strong global player without Turkey as a member," he said.

Earlier he said that the sixteen years Sweden has been a member of the EU has influenced not only legislation in Sweden but also the country's mindset and that membership is now more or less taken for granted.

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