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SWEDEN

Sweden: We are prepared for a no-deal Brexit

Sweden is well-prepared for a no-deal Brexit, senior ministers asserted on Wednesday as news emerged about the UK government asking to suspend parliament with just weeks to go to the deadline.

Sweden: We are prepared for a no-deal Brexit
Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson (right) and Europe Minister Hans Dahlgren (left) at Wednesday's meeting. Photo: Thommy Tengborg/TT
“The fact that we have put our public finances in order, and have the lowest public debt since 1977 puts us in a good starting position for a scenario where Britain leaves the EU without an agreement,” Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said at a press conference on Wednesday. 
 
“To handle the consequences of a British exit from the European Union, the government has carried out a string of preparations, including giving public information to companies on the new trading conditions and taking actions to make it easier for private citizens.” 
 
In a press release, Sweden's government said that it believed the risk of Britain leaving without a deal had risen dramatically under new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with the European Commission and the UK still far away from one another on “the decisive question of the so-called backstop”. 
 
The press conference had been scheduled in advance and was held just before the BBC reported Johnson's plans to ask the Queen to suspend the British parliament until October 14th, leaving MPs little time to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal on October 31st.
 
 Sweden's EU minister Hans Dahlgren said his government still hoped a deal might be possible. 
 
“We would rather of course that there be an orderly exit, but recent statements from the British government show that they are planning to leave the EU on November 1st, with or without a deal,” he said. “This is serious, and we need to make sure we are also prepared for a hard Brexit.” 
 
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Sweden's government said it had been working together both with the EU commission and with other EU member states to minimize the economic impact of Britain leaving without a deal.
 
But it said that it was inevitable that a hard Brexit would still lead to serious negative impacts. 
 
At the meeting, Dahlgren and Andersson discussed what Sweden's government has done to reduce the impact of a hard Brexit both on Swedish citizens living in the UK and on British citizens living in Sweden. 
 
 
They discussed actions taken to protect financial markets, and ensure financial stability. 
 
They said Sweden had informed Swedish companies on the new customs rules which will be brought in. 
 
They also discussed the measures that have been taken to ensure that the Swedish Customs Service would be able to handle the increased workload. 
 
Finally, the discussed how Sweden would handle the new rules which would apply to the fishing, aviation, rail, and pharmaceutical industries. 

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NATO

Sweden’s PM Magdalena Andersson in US to visit President Biden

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is in Washington today alongside Finland’s president Sauli Niinistö. The two will visit US President Joe Biden to discuss the war in Ukraine and Turkey’s opposition to their Nato applications, which were handed in yesterday.

Sweden's PM Magdalena Andersson in US to visit President Biden

“The meeting is an important security policy signal,” Andersson wrote on her Instagram account from Washington DC.

The two Nordic leaders boarded their flight to Washington shortly after their Nato ambassadors applied to join the alliance on Wednesday morning.

At the meeting in the White House today, the delicate security situation in both Finland and Sweden will be discussed.

The US has given security assurances to the two countries during the gap between their applications to join Nato and the accession as members, as have Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. 

“Biden Finland and Sweden are longtime, stalwart partners of the United States. By joining Nato, they will further strengthen our defence cooperation and benefit the entire Transatlantic Alliance,” Biden said in his statement. 

The US would maintain its “robust exercise activity and presence” in the Baltic Sea region, he added.

“While their applications for Nato membership are being considered, the United States will work with Finland and Sweden to remain vigilant against any threats to our shared security, and to deter and confront aggression or the threat of aggression.” 

Another issue on the agenda will be how to respond to Turkey’s moves to block the process until Sweden and Finland meet demands to, among other things, extradite people in Sweden the country claims are linked to terror organisations and end  its embargo on weapons sales to Sweden. 

The US, as the most powerful country in the alliance, could be able to put pressure on Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to back down, or offer other concessions, perhaps over its wish to buy US F-16 fighter jets.  

Andersson spoke to Biden on the phone on Friday and met him in Brussels at the end of March, but this is her first visit to Washington as prime minister. 

Final approval for Sweden and Finland’s bid could take up to a year, and Russia is expected to react to the two countries joining Nato in some way.

Sweden and Finland’s decision to join the Nato alliance was applauded by Ukrainians taking part in a demonstration outside the White House.

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