Brexit, migration, and jobs: Swedish PM outlines his vision for the EU

In a speech and press conference attended by The Local, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven on Thursday outlined his vision for the European Union and shared his thoughts on how best to deal with the problems facing the bloc.

Brexit, migration, and jobs: Swedish PM outlines his vision for the EU
Photo: Christine Olsson / TT

Speaking to an audience of university students and journalists in Uppsala, Löfven described cooperation between European Union member states as something “greater than ourselves”.

But he said several factors were currently putting strain on this cooperation, including the rise of populism, xenophobia, and Brexit.

He also reminded the audience of why the EU was first established and put forward his own view of current developments in the bloc, just days after French President Emmanuel Macron renewed his calls for ambitious reforms of the union.

“The conclusion for me can only be the following: those of us who have political responsibility for Europe must shoulder that responsibility and give a better response to the challenges of the day,” said Löfven.

“Now we don’t need big new projects. Changing the EU’s treaty doesn’t solve any problems. Instead, we should focus on the important, fundamental questions where the EU gives us an added value,” he continued.

He defined these key questions as the economy, a fair labour market, the environment, common values, peace and security, and migration.

The prime minister went on to say that a 'Swexit' was “not on the table at all”, though he emphasized the importance of a good relationship between the EU and the UK, even once the latter leaves the bloc.

He added that the Swedish population would decide whether the country joined the euro, but that the government would carefully examine the question of whether to join the EU Banking Union. 

“It is natural for me to evaluate how we maximize Sweden's influence in the EU,” said Löfven.

He also addressed the question of border controls, which he labelled a “necessary evil”. 

Löfven said he was “prepared to compromise” in the discussions now taking place about an EU-wide migration policy. He suggested that those countries who do not do their bit to shoulder some of the burden of the huge numbers of arrivals should lose financial support from the bloc.

“As long as we have not got a functioning system in the EU, and as long as order and security can not be guaranteed, border controls will not disappear in Europe,” Löfven said.


Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.