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Swedish PM swats aside calls for EU renegotiation

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Swedish PM swats aside calls for EU renegotiation
"Sweden will now lose an important partner in the EU," Löfven said. Photo: TT
15:16 CEST+02:00
Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said on Friday, that it had been “totally irresponsible” for the Left Party to bring up the question of a Swedish EU renegotiation at a time when the EU was in such need of stability, after the UK had voted to leave the community.

The Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt, who cooperates with the Social Democrat-led government on budgetary matters, said earlier on Friday that the British EU exit meant a golden chance to renegotiate Swedish membership.

"We want to reduce the EU's powers and to be able to have the Swedish collective agreements. It is also important that the EU budgets properly so that the membership fee goes down and not up. We also want to abolish the common agricultural policy,” he said.

Sjöstedt’s suggestion was shot down flames by Löfven who called the comment “totally irresponsible”.

The prime minister continued, “It is easy to be populist in this situation. It is not the time now to demand renegotiation as we have before us five or ten years of insecurity in the EU and we need long-term perspective and stability.”

“In Sweden, membership of the EU is firmly anchored,” Löfven said. “I have spoken with the other party leaders this morning."

Earlier the prime minister had released a statement expressing sadness at the result of the UK vote.

“It is now clear that the people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union. We respect their decision, but it is a serious one - primarily for the people of the UK, who had a great deal to gain by remaining, but also for the EU."

"Sweden will now lose an important partner in the EU. We have often pursued issues together, not least important trade issues. The UK will remain an important partner for Sweden in its new role outside the EU."

"The fact that the UK is leaving the EU will have major repercussions."

"But we remain convinced of the importance of European cooperation. Our need for effective European cooperation has never been greater. This is particularly true for Sweden, which is a small, export-dependent country."

"The EU offers us greater opportunities to resolve the problems of our time, but it also enhances the conditions for more jobs and higher growth. And it safeguards peace and security.”

But Löfven cautioned that the EU could not ignore the ramifications of the UK vote.

“The debate and campaigning in the run-up to the referendum should serve as a wake-up call for Europe. They elicited stark polarisation and disturbing nationalism. This shows that EU cooperation must be developed and improved.

"We must be able to demonstrate that our cooperation is actually capable of tackling our common challenges in the way that people expect it to.

"We must have fair conditions in the European labour market. Climate and environmental challenges know no borders. And all EU Member states must take responsibility for the refugees fleeing to Europe.”

In recent polls, more than 70% of Swedes have signalled that they prefer to stay within the EU.

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