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EUROPEAN UNION

More Swedes think EU is good for Sweden: Poll

Swedes are significantly more positive about the EU than the average citizen of the union, with the Swedish belief that the EU is good for their country almost ten percent higher than agreement with that sentiment across the union in general, according to a new study.

More Swedes think EU is good for Sweden: Poll
The European Parliament in Strasbourg. Photo: Jean-Francois Badias/AP

The latest edition of the European Parliament’s Parlemeter poll showed that only 53 percent of EU citizens polled think the EU is a good thing for their country, a decrease of two percent from the previous edition of the study in 2015.

In Sweden, things are different however: in this year’s study, 64 percent of Swedes said that the EU is good for Sweden, a five percent increase since 2015.

62 percent of Swedes said that their country had benefited from being a member of the EU meanwhile, a four percent increase since 2015. The EU average for the same question is 60 percent, unchanged from the previous year.

The most common reason why Swedes think their country benefits from the EU is “membership improves co-operation between Sweden and the other countries of the EU” (53 percent), which on average only 29 percent of respondents across the 28 EU nations agreed with in regards to their country.

It isn’t all positive however: 55 percent of Swedish respondents said that things are going in the wrong direction in the EU – one percent higher than the EU average of 54 percent.

The 2016 Parlemeter was carried out between September 24th and October 3rd, several months after the United Kingdom’s June 23rd referendum vote to leave the EU.

In July, a survey carried out by pollsters Novus for Swedish TV4 suggested that the Brexit vote had strengthened Swedish positivity on the EU, with 63 percent of Swedes saying they would vote to remain in the union if a referendum was held, up from 58 percent saying they would do so in a previous Novus study conducted before the British vote.

A Sweden-based political scientist specializing in EU politics told The Local at the time that Britain’s vote to leave the EU had urged Swedes to think in more detail about Europe.

“The average Swedish person doesn’t think or care much about the EU, but Brexit brings it to the fore. The UK referendum made a complicated issue real, and people in Sweden are suddenly forced to think about what the EU is rather than just having a vague opinion on it,” Ian Manners noted.

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READER QUESTIONS

Do ‘self-sufficient’ Brits in Sweden need to buy health insurance?

Several readers have complained to The Local that the UK leaving the European Union means that they are being forced to keep paying for health insurance longer than they would have under EU rules. Sweden's Migration Agency told The Local this was unnecessary.

Do 'self-sufficient' Brits in Sweden need to buy health insurance?

EU citizens who do not work, study or have families in Sweden can still stay in the country longer than three months if they can demonstrate that they are self-supporting. This requires them to have a comprehensive health insurance as well as a guaranteed income from overseas or sufficient savings. 

Once an EU citizen gets registered, or folkbokförd, and obtains a Swedish personal number, they no longer have to pay health insurance.

But several Britons who have post-Brexit residence on the basis of being “self-supporting”, told The Local that they believed that they had to continue paying health insurance premiums of as much as 50,000 kronor a year if they wanted to fulfil the conditions for living in Sweden legally and so qualify for permanent right of residence (permanent uppehållsrätt), or citizenship. 

“As a sixty-one year old person categorised as self-supporting in Sweden, I must pay almost 50,000 kronor per annum for health insurance,” wrote Simon, a Briton living in Värmland. “A yearly increase of 10 percent for the years until I’m eligible for citizenship is unsustainable. If the proposal for an eight-year wait until one can apply for citizenship is implemented, it’s even more so. If Britain remained in the EU such insurance wouldn’t be required.” 

When The Local contacted Sweden’s Migration Agency about this, they said that Simon appeared to be misinformed. 

“People who are registered as living in Sweden (folkbokförd) are covered by the Swedish social insurance system and so as a result do not need to have their own comprehensive health insurance.” 

When Brits categorised as “self-supporting” and living in Sweden with post-Brexit residence status apply for certificates of permanent uppehållsrätt or Swedish citizenship in the coming years, the agency continued, they would not need to have had comprehensive health insurance over this period to qualify. 

“The requirement for comprehensive health insurance is fulfilled because the British citizen is registered as living in Sweden,” the agency wrote. 

We have also contacted the Swedish Tax Agency to ask them for their understanding of the requirements, and will update this article when we receive a response. 

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