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Sweden ‘won’t block’ pact to save euro

Sweden was one of four European Union member states to scupper hopes of a 27-country agreement to help strengthen the euro, but nevertheless plans to participate in the creation of a European bailout fund.

Sweden 'won't block' pact to save euro

Speaking with the TT news agency on Friday morning, Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt also expressed doubts about the likelihood of Sweden agreeing to abide by the pact, which was forged by the 17 eurozone countries, and which six other EU member states had at that time elected to support.

“It’s not that Sweden, which isn’t a member of the euro, wants to tie itself to rules which are completely tailored for the eurozone,” he said.

“The whole text is written to make eurozone members submit to certain restrictions and do certain things. A non-eurozone country can’t reasonably sign up to that.”

Following an intense night of negotiations, Sweden, the UK, Hungary, and the Czech Republic refused signal their support for a deal requiring tighter fiscal discipline among the eurozone countries through changes to the current EU treaty.

Hopes for a deal stumbled in part over the UK’s desire to include protections from future financial regulations that would have accompanied the treaty changes proposed by Germany and France.

While Britain and Hungary at first refused to sign on to the deal, Sweden and the Czech Republic had requested time to consult with their respective parliaments before agreeing to the new pact.

As a result, the 23 remaining EU members states agreed to forge an agreement for rules that would penalize fiscal profligacy and to increase resources available to bailout troubled EU economies through additional pledges to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the establishment of a new European bailout fund.

Later on Friday morning, however, Reinfeldt received clearance from the Riksdag’s EU committee to approve the protocol changes agreed to by the eurozone countries, meaning Sweden has no plans to stand in the way of the deal.

Specifically, the committee approved Sweden’s participation in a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that will help support a European bailout fund.

The committee also agreed to having Sweden support changes to the EU treaty that allow for countries that mismanage their economies to be punished, but stopped short of having Sweden abide by the new rules.

The question of the size of Sweden’s contribution remains up for negotiation, according to the Europaportalen.se, a Swedish news website focusing on EU politics.

“We’re not saying no. We think it’s good that the eurozone countries have come up with something in all this chaos and we’re not going to close the door on the eurozone countries as they try to put their economies in order,” EU committee vice chair Marie Granlund of the Social Democrats, told TT.

Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) MP Carl B.Hamilton, chair of the EU committee, was highly critical of the UK, which has refused to support the pact.

“They’re splitting Europe. Great Britain has acted in an nonconstructive way. ‘Unhelpful’ as they say in English,” Hamilton told Europaportalen.se.

While there is no indication that Sweden plans to join the 23 other countries which have so far agreed to abide by the new budget rules, the possibility remains open that Sweden could join at a later date.

“We’ll have to see what is actually meant by joining voluntary. We can’t have any overoptimistic hopes that we can affect politics for the whole of Europe. But if we join, we can protect ourselves against having other countries make decisions that could injure us,” said Hamilton.

While Hamilton indicated his Liberal Party was open to Sweden eventually joining the pact, Granlund said the Social Democrats remain opposed.

“It would conflict with what the Swedish people have said in the referendum. It would mean an all to large involvement in the Swedish economy,” she told Europaportalen.se.

Exact details of the deal remain to be worked out in the coming months and will be enshrined in an international agreement parallel to the EU’s current treaty.

However, the goal remains to eventually have the changes included in the EU treaty.

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OFFBEAT

Swedish teen hits gold with love tweets to PM

A perky Swedish schoolgirl with a wry sense of humour has suddenly found herself with thousands of fans fascinated with details of her fictional crush on Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, making her our pick for Swede of the Week.

“Imagine you and Reinfeldt sending silly snapchats to eachother ♡,” reads the maiden tweet from the @imaginreinfeldt Twitter account.

The tweet is accompanied with a picture of the Swedish prime minister in profile, a finger on his nose as he stares at a microphone, apparently deep in thought.

 

 

Since taking its place in the twittosphere on the evening of September 8th, a mere four days ago at time of writing, the account has attracted more than 3,200 followers, much to the surprise of its creator, 14-year-old Ebba.

“The response has been great fun. It's great to know that I'm able to make people laugh,” she says.

When contacted by The Local on her mobile phone, Ebba is in gym class, huffing along on a run with her fellow sixth graders in Hallen, a community of 200 residents on the shores of Storsjön lake in Åre municipality in northern Sweden.

“I really never imagined this would attract any attention. I did it because I thought it was fun,” she explains when asked about the Twitter account.

 

 

Ebba says she first began to reflect on the gold mine of humour hidden beneath the prime minister's austere exterior when she was 11-years-old, around the time of Sweden's last general election when Reinfeldt and his government earned a second term in office.

“He has this appearance that is somewhat serious. But I think he looks a lot like a puppy dog,” she says.

“I've always thought he's sort of an amusing guy who is easy to make fun of.”

 

 

Over the past couple of years, Ebba, a girl with a “special sense of humour who likes to joke about inappropriate topics” offered up a range of Reinfeldt-inspired quips to her friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Seeing Reinfeldt's face plastered on the television and the front pages of newspapers during last week's visit of US President Barack Obama prompted Ebba to think anew about the next step in her ever-evolving Reinfeldt joke meme.

“I'd gotten a lot of positive responses to my postings on social media,” she explains.

“And I had all these ideas of imagining Reinfeldt in different made-up scenes, so I decided to launch an entire Twitter account dedicated to the joke of having a crush on Reinfeldt.”

 

 

Ebba, who is currently single, emphasizes that flirtatious Twitter account is “totally made up” and that she in no way harbours feelings for Reinfeldt, who finalized his divorce from his wife Filippa in February 2013 after two decades of marriage.

Nor does she harbour any political leanings of her own.

“I'm not into politics. I don't have any real political opinions of my own. The account is meant to be totally neutral,” she says.

All the @imaginreinfeldt tweets are written in English, Ebba says, for the simple fact that “everything sounds much funnier in English”.

While Ebba has yet to meet Reinfeldt face-to-face, she knows exactly what she'd do should the opportunity arise.

“I'd simply tell him he's really lovely,” she says.

“And then I'd give him a big hug.”

Editor's Note: The Local's Swede of the Week is someone in the news who – for good or ill – has revealed something interesting about the country. Being selected as Swede of the Week is not necessarily an endorsement.

SEE ALSO: A list of The Local's past Swedes of the Week

David Landes

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