• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

'Sweden is getting more used to immigrants'

Oliver Gee · 16 May 2014, 10:58

Published: 16 May 2014 10:58 GMT+02:00

 
A report released this week revealed that an EU-high 91 percent of Swedes thought that "immigrants contribute a lot to Sweden". That figure represented the highest score of all EU countries, where the average was 48 percent.
 
The news left Sweden's Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag beaming.
 
"This is a positive result, fantastic actually," he told The Local on Friday. "It means Sweden and Swedish people have become more used to immigration."
 
And there has been a lot for Swedes to get accustomed to, the minister accepted, with Sweden's foreign-born population jumping from 3 percent in the 1950s to over 15 percent today.
 
He said that nowadays, foreigners enjoy an easier transition to Sweden and that Swedes play a helping hand. 
 
"You can see it in the work places, people are getting more used to foreigners and have a more positive attitude. There are many places in Europe, many with similar populations as Sweden, with far worse results."
 
The minister said Sweden’s table topping score was a direct result of the government's leadership.
 
"I think Sweden's political leadership has been crystal clear on the notion of openness, tolerance, and standing up for diversity. And of course, that influences the attitudes among the citizens, especially compared to several other European countries that have a different tone when it comes to integration. I think [in those countries] it boils down to a lack of political leadership,” he said.
 
Indeed, on certain issues, Sweden has shown the way.  In September last year, the government granted permanent residency to all refugees from Syria - making Sweden the first country in the EU to do so
 
Eight months on, Ullenhag says the national response has been positive.
 
"Public support is broad for giving Syrian refugees a new life," he explained. "It's obvious that you can't throw people back to Aleppo in the middle of a war."
 
Ullenhag said that the majority of his energy now was spent in finding housing for these refugees, who number between 11,000 and 12,000.
Story continues below…
 
"Waiting a few months, even up to a year in some cases, is a bad start to say the least, but there is strong pressure on the municipalities to cooperate," he explained. 
 
"But at this point, many of the people who are coming are quite well-educated and have possibilities in Sweden," he added.
 
"And you must remember that we're giving them permanent residence, which is another really positive aspect. If you look back at history you can see that integration is tougher on temporary permits.
 
“If you're not sure that you'll stay in Sweden, it's much harder to learn Swedish and to plan for your future," Ullenhag added.

Oliver Gee (oliver.gee@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Police close Facebook thread after call for help derails
A file photo of police cars on Gotland not related to the article. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The Gotland Police Facebook post asking the public for information about an unprovoked attack on two boys had to be closed because the comments section spiraled out of control.

US election
What Americans in Sweden think of Trump and Clinton
The Local spoke to Americans in Sweden after the first US presidential debate. Photo: David Goldman/AP/TT

The Local spoke to four US voters based in Sweden about who they are planning on voting for in the November election, and it looks like it's complicated.

Presented by Emirates Center for Strategic Studies
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
File photo: sanjitbakshi/Flickr

As Sweden prepares to take a seat on UN Security Council next year, Abu Dhabi-based scholar and author Dr. Jamal Sanad al-Suwaidi argues for a greater UN role to fight extremist ideologies like those that fuel Isis and other terror groups.

Video
Why Swedes want Nasa to send a condom into space
Should a condom be sent into space? It's the burning question some Swedes have posed. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT & Craig Rubadoux/AP

'We can't be sure what alien sex organs look like.'

Mum gives birth on toilet after being told to take paracetamol
File photo of a baby not related to the story. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

A woman has described how she was told to take a painkiller when she phoned a hospital in Ystad, southern Sweden, in pain. Just moments later she gave birth to a baby in the toilet.

Indians in Sweden told to be wary of travel document scam
File photo of a man using a phone not related to the story. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

The Embassy of India in Stockholm has urged Indian citizens in Sweden to be wary of scammers who ask for money to fix fabricated errors in travel documents.

Swedes shell out for season's first lobster
Meet Pontus Johansson and his lobster. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT

Best not to look at the price tag.

Witnesses 'afraid to talk' to police about Malmö shooting
Police investigating the shooting in Malmö. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

Police are appealing for witnesses to a shooting which killed a man and injured three in a residential street of Malmö – but it is an uphill battle.

Opinion
Swedish leaders need to be prepared for tech challenges
Will robots take over your jobs? Photo: Eric Piermont/AP

Will your job still exist in ten years' time? How will society and businesses adapt to the advancements that are on their way?

Opinion
'If Sweden really wants startups, drop the red tape'
Tech star Tayyab Shabab, who is being threatened with deportation. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Swedish politicians are keen to talk up the country's startups – but their migration rules threaten to strangle them, argues The Local's managing editor James Savage.

Sponsored Article
Let's Talk: a personal Swedish language tutor in your pocket
Analysis & Opinion
'If Sweden really wants startups, drop the red tape on migration'
Sponsored Article
‘I view the world in a different way now’
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
National
Trump an 'embarrassment' Springsteen tells Sweden
Blog updates

27 September

Cutting your nose …. (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Last week, Jeremy Browne, the Special Representative for the City of London, visited Sweden. Jeremy was…" READ »

 

7 September

Svensk or svenska? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! My inbox is full of questions :-). Here’s one about when to use “svensk” and…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
'Creating a sense of home': Collective living in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: September 23rd-25th
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Politics
Russian Sweden Democrat aide resigns over suspect deal
National
Muslim teacher leaves job after not shaking male colleague's hand
Travel
Why we adore autumn in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
Gallery
People-watching: September 21st
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Stockholmers hunt killer badger after attack on neighbourhood hipster cat
The Local Voices
Why this Russian developer is committed to helping refugees - with tech
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
National
Six key points in Sweden's budget plan
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
The Local Voices
How a Swedish name finally made recruiters notice this Iranian's CV
Gallery
Property of the week: Luleå
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Gallery
People-watching: September 16th-18th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Culture
Why Swedish TV has given these kids' trucks a sex swap
Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden’s ’a-kassa’
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Gallery
People-watching: September 14th
Politics
Why Sweden is putting troops on holiday dream island Gotland
The Local Voices
'What I mean when I say: I came here to blow myself up'
Society
VIDEO: Are Swedes that unfriendly?
Features
INTERVIEW: How Arthur the jungle dog opened hearts and minds
Gallery
Property of the week: Smögen, Västra Götaland
Society
Sweden's ancient forest tongue Elfdalian fights for survival
National
Where Sweden's foreigners are from
Gallery
People-watching: September 9th-11th
The Local Voices
'Whenever I apply for jobs I’m treated like an unwanted stranger'
The Local Voices
Is Swedish bosses' ignorance keeping refugees out of jobs?
2,972
jobs available