SHARE
COPY LINK

EUROZONE

Sweden can back eurozone pact: Riksdag

Sweden's parliament on Friday gave as expected the government a green light to support the eurozone pact on fiscal discipline at an EU summit next week, as long as certain terms are met.

Sweden can back eurozone pact: Riksdag

The parliament’s EU affairs “committee concluded that the government had support for its position,” committee spokesman Tommy Forsell told AFP, pointing out that this meant Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt was free to negotiate terms with Brussels for joining the pact.

With its blessing, the committee formalized the mandate the minority centre-right government received when it reached a deal with the main opposition Social Democrats Thursday, giving it a parliamentary majority.

The government is strongly in favour of the euro pact, but the Social Democrats had long threatened to block Sweden’s support of the pact for fear it was a “back door” into the eurozone.

The Scandinavian country rejected the euro in a 2003 referendum.

While Sweden is not a eurozone member, it has among the strongest public finances in Europe and is therefore seen as an influential player in European efforts to improve financial discipline.

The government and the Social Democrats agreed on four conditions that Sweden will push for at the negotiating table in Brussels next week, including demands that Sweden not be required to transfer any decision-making power on its budget from the national parliament and that Sweden be granted more influence.

The Social Democrats said Thursday that one way Sweden could be guaranteed more influence was by being given a seat at eurozone summits where the pact is up for discussion.

Eurozone versus full EU summits are a sensitive topic for some governments, notably France, which refuses to grant access to the 10 other EU states more than once a year.

During discussions Friday at the EU affairs committee, however, the demand for a seat at the table did not seem set in stone.

“There are other solutions. For instance by helping with preparations (for the summits), by setting exact terms for what can be discussed by euro countries and non-euro countries,” said state secretary Katarina Areskoug Mascarenhas, who was standing in for Reinfeldt, who had the stomach flu.

Social Democratic representative Marie Granlund also conceded that “exactly how the influence should be organised is something we can come back to.”

The so-called fiscal “compact” to tighten budgetary discipline and economic governance between the 17 eurozone nations is one of the main issues on the agenda when leaders of the 27-nation EU meet in Brussels on Monday.

All EU states except Britain have agreed to consider signing the fiscal compact, the aim of which is to avoid a repeat of the debt crisis in the eurozone.

The pact is expected to be agreed in principle on Monday before formal acceptance at an EU summit on March 1 and 2.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

NATO

PM: Social Democrats could decide on Nato on May 15th

Sweden's Prime Minister has said that her party has brought forward the date for a decision on Nato membership by ten days, meaning a decision could be in place before a state visit by Finland's president in mid-May.

PM: Social Democrats could decide on Nato on May 15th

The decision had previously been tabled for a meeting of the party board on May 24th, but could now be taken at an extra meeting of the Social Democrats ruling committee on May 15th, Magdalena Andersson said at a press conference on Thursday. 

“We will of course discuss the issue and then we can see if we feel ready to take a decision or not,” she said at a Ukraine donors’ conference in Warsaw. 

She said that the security guarantees Sweden has received from the US and Germany for the period between a possible application and full Nato membership were significant. 

“It means a lot if Sweden chooses to send in an application, that we will be safer during the period up until we become members than we otherwise would be,” she said. 

“The party committee can take a decision then,” Party secretary Tobias Baudin he told Sweden’s TT newswire of the May 15th meeting. 

The meeting will come just two days after the Swedish government’s ‘security policy analysis group’, which includes representatives from all political parties, is due to submit its own reassessment of Sweden’s security situation. 

“It depends on what the security policy dialogue shows,” Baudin says of the decision. “Right now meetings in party districts are going at full pace.” 

The May 15th meeting will take place on the Sunday before the week when Finland’s Iltalehti and Sweden’s Expressen newspaper last month reported Finland and Sweden had already decided to jointly announce a decision to join Nato.

Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, is due to visit Stockholm on 17th May and 18 May on a state visit, where he will be hosted by King Karl XVI Gustaf.  

The meeting of the Social Democrats’ ruling committee will come shortly after the party holds three digital members’ meetings on security policy, on May 9th, May 10th and May 12th (although these may also be brought forward). 

There is still resistance in the party’s rank and file, with at least three of the party’s powerful leagues still openly opposed to joining: 

  • The Social Democratic Women in Sweden voted last week to continue its opposition to Nato membership.
  • The Swedish Social Democratic Youth League has said it would prefer Sweden to bolster its security through the EU.
  • The Religious Social Democrats of Sweden has said that it believes the decision should not be rushed through at a time of conflict.  
  • The Social Democrat Students’ League has said that it wants to wait until it has seen the security police analysis before taking a decision. 

None of these leagues can block membership, however. It is the Social Democrats’ ruling party committee which is empowered to take the decision. 

SHOW COMMENTS