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BREXIT

What’s new in Sweden? Here are five important events in October

From Brexit to new housing laws: here are some of the changes and news stories happening in Sweden in October.

What's new in Sweden? Here are five important events in October
Moving into a new apartment this month? Make sure you know the rules. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

This article is available to Members of The Local. Read more Membership Exclusives here.

Sweden is cracking down on dishonest landlords 

The laws for hyresrätter (rented accommodation) are changing, making it more difficult for landlords to charge too high a rent to second-hand tenants. In principle this means second-hand tenants should pay the same rent as first-hand tenants, with extra charges only for furniture, equipment and other items the tenant has access to. Previously, landlords who overcharged tenants could be forced to repay, but now the stakes have been raised as those who fall foul of the law could actually lose the apartment altogether.

The new regulations also make it a crime not only to sell but also to buy a first-hand rental contract on the black market. People found guilty of these offences face losing the rental contract immediately, and the typical punishment will be fines or a jail sentence of up to two years, although this could be increased to four years in very serious cases. The law changes will come into force on October 1st.

The Local wrote more about the new rules earlier this year in this article for Members.


The law changes only apply to hyresrätter, not bostadsrätter. Photo: Yvonne Åsell/SvD/TT

Brexit is (probably, maybe) here

We could not write this article without mentioning the B-word. At the time of writing, Britain is set to leave the EU on October 31st and what shape and form the divorce will take remains unclear. The Benn Act forces the British government to seek an extension if the alternative is to crash out of the EU without a deal, but such an extension would still have to be approved by the EU and leaves no guarantee against a hard Brexit.

Sweden has said that British nationals will be able to continue to live and work in Sweden for at least a year after Brexit, but it is still unknown what happens after that. In general, unless the Swedish government says otherwise, Brits without Swedish citizenship will have to obtain a third-country national work or residence permit.

But even if you are not British, Brexit is likely to have some manner of impact on your life, so it is worth paying attention. This could be a direct impact, for example, if you work for a company that trades with the United Kingdom, or an indirect impact from the financial measures Sweden takes to protect itself against Brexit shockwaves.

Here are all The Local's articles about Brexit, as well as a no-deal checklist for Brits in Sweden.


A 'Brexit Now' banner tied to railings outside the UK parliament. Photo: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Telecom services will be forced to retain data

From October 1st, Swedish telecommunications and internet operators will again be obligated to store data needed for government agencies' work on crime prevention. They should be able to answer questions about who communicated with whom, when, where and how – and store the data for two months.

It used to be possible to do this for up to six months according to Swedish legislation, but the requirement was scrapped in 2016 when the European Court of Justice tore up the law after telecom giant Tele2 refused to comply with the rules. The revised law aims to bring Swedish legislation in line with EU data laws.

However, several internet providers have threatened to appeal any request by Swedish authorities to hand out information about their customers, which means we may not have seen the end of this.


The new law is meant to help authorities fight crime, but it has also received criticism. Photo: Naina Helén Jåma/TT

Verdict due in high-profile police shooting trial

The verdict in the case of the fatal shooting of severely disabled man Eric Torell, 20, is due on October 3rd. Torell was shot dead in the morning of August 2nd by police officers responding to a call about an armed man they believed could be linked to a previous incident in the area. He was carrying a plastic toy gun, but had Down Syndrome and autism, and according to his parents had the same mental level as a three-year-old.

One of the officers who hit Torell in the back is accused of breaching official duty, and the other, who wounded him fatally, is accused of involuntary manslaughter. The court's decision will come down to whether or not it agrees the officers could have been considered to reasonably believe they were acting in self-defence. The police task force leader, who was not directly involved in the shooting, is also charged with breach of duty.


A court sketch of the trial. Photo: Ingela Landström/TT

Turn your clocks back for winter time

Sweden will turn back clocks at 3am on October 27th, but it could be one of the last times this happens.

The European Parliament earlier this year voted to end the traditional changing of the clocks in spring and autumn from 2021, as The Local reported at the time. However, it is up to the European Council, made up of the leaders of member states, to have the final say and it has not yet made a decision. The Swedish government has said it is not against ending the practice if there is broad support in the country or parliament.

In a Europe-wide survey last year some 80 percent of Europeans voted in favour of stopping the clock changes, with most people appearing to prefer to stay on summer time rather than winter time. A separate survey in Sweden suggested that two thirds of Swedes would be up for ditching the seasonal time changes. 


You will gain one hour on October 27th. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB scanpix/TT

Member comments

  1. On the fate of British nationals post-hard Brexit (if it is) those who have been here some time and are married to a Swede should not have an issue. Maybe a short article clarifying the requirements for Brits in different situations would be helpful.

  2. @antontree: Yes, there are so many different requirements and situations it is hard to make sense of it all, so that’s a good idea! Thanks!

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For members

BREXIT

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Brexit really does mean that Britons are no longer EU citizens. Claudia Delpero looks at whether there's any other way they can keep their rights.

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Britons lost EU citizenship when the UK left the EU, on 1st February 2020. 

It is the first time the EU’s top court has rules on the matter, after a number of legal cases challenged this specific Brexit outcome. The decision also sets a precedent should other countries decide to leave the bloc in the future. 

What has the EU Court decided?

The Court of Justice decided on a case brought by a British woman living in France.

Before Brexit, she could vote and stand as a candidate in her town of residence, Thoux. But after the UK withdrawal from the EU, she was removed from the electoral roll and excluded from the municipal elections that took place in March 2020, during the transition period.  

As the mayor refused her appeal to restore the registration, she took the case to the regional court in Auch, which agreed to request an interpretation of the rules to the EU top court. 

Julien Fouchet, the barrister supporting her and several other cases on the EU citizenship of British nationals, argued that the loss of EU citizenship and voting rights was disproportionate. It would also be contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, given that the woman also lost her voting rights in the UK, having lived abroad for more than 15 years.

Alice Bouillez, who has lived in France since 1984 and is married to a French national, could have applied for French citizenship, but did not do so because she said “this was not necessary” before Brexit and, as a former UK official, she had taken an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

On Thursday the Court of Justice announced the decision about her case. The court ruled that the “possession of the nationality of a member state is an essential condition for a person to be able to acquire and retain the status of citizen of the Union and to benefit fully from the rights attaching to that status.”

The court therefore confirmed that British nationals automatically lost their EU citizenship as a result of Brexit and, as a consequence, Britons also lost their voting and electoral rights in municipal elections in the EU (unless the country where they live set different rules). 

What is EU citizenship?

EU citizenship was introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht of 1992, when borders were opening and the bloc was integrating economically after the end of the Cold War. 

Under the treaty, every person holding the nationality of an EU member state is a citizen of the Union. EU citizenship is additional and does not replace nationality, the treaty specifies. But this creates the first form of a transnational citizenship that grants rights across borders.

EU citizens have the right to access each other’s territory, job market and services under the principle of non-discrimination. If they are economically active, they have the right to reside in other EU states and be joined by family members, access healthcare at the same conditions of nationals (for emergency treatment also when travelling temporarily), obtain social security benefits and see their professional qualifications recognised.

Beyond free movement, at the core of EU citizenship there are also political rights, such as participating in the European Parliament election, voting and standing as candidates in municipal elections when living in other EU countries, receiving consular protection from other EU states outside the EU, and taking part in European Citizens’ Initiatives asking to the EU to legislate on certain matters. 

Which EU citizenship rights have Britons lost with Brexit? 

For British citizens who were living in the EU before Brexit, the Withdrawal Agreement protects some of these rights. Britons covered by deal have their residence, access to work and education, healthcare, social security and qualifications secured, but only in the country where they were living before Brexit.

But the right to free movement in other EU states, consular protection in third countries, and the political rights attached to EU citizenship were lost, the Court confirmed. 

For British citizens in the UK, the trade and cooperation agreement has preserved some social security rights and, in theory, the possibility to have professional qualifications recognized when moving to an EU country. These provisions however lack details and may take a long time before they work in practice. 

As the “European Union” no longer features on British passports, the possibility to access EU lanes at airports to skip passport control queues has also vanished. 

“The loss of those treasured rights has been clear to those of us living in the EU from the early days of Brexit. But for Brits in the UK, the realities of life outside the EU, and the consequences of Brexit, are only just dawning. Long queues at the borders, roaming charges, obstacles to working abroad, etc. are the new reality,” said Sue Wilson, Chair of the group Remain in Spain. 

While she said the court’s decision was “no real surprise,” she argued that “this is not the Brexit the public were promised, or that the majority voted for.”

Can British citizens get some of these rights back?

Julien Fouchet was disappointed at the Court decision and promised to continue the legal fight, bringing the case at the European Court of Human Rights (which is not an EU institution). 

Other two cases on the matter of EU citizenship for British nationals are still pending at the Court of Justice of the EU. One of them aims to determine whether EU citizenship is a “fundamental status” that cannot be removed but Thursday’s decision could have already provided the answer.

Another option to reconsider some of the rights is the renegotiation of EU-UK trade agreement, when it will be reviewed in 2025. 

Meanwhile, the EU is revising the rules for non-EU citizens living in EU countries on a long-term basis, making it easier to move across borders. 

Applying for citizenship is so far the only option to regain voting rights, although not all EU countries allow dual nationality. 

Sue Wilson, who has long campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, said: “There is only one way to restore the loss of our rights, and that’s to rejoin the single market, rejoin the customs union, and eventually, rejoin the European Union… Until that day, we will continue to be second class citizens whose rights have been diminished for the sake of an ideology.”

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