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Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

Find out what's going on in Sweden today with The Local's short roundup of the news in less than five minutes.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Budget news, property prices, changes to Covid-19 travel rules and more. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Government proposes tax cuts intended to benefit 7.5 million people

Three quarters of the total Swedish population would see a boost to their wallet if the government gets support for three proposed tax cuts, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson announced yesterday. For a wage earner on a 25,000 kronor monthly salary, the boost would be a modest 110 kronor per month, with the biggest winners from the proposals including low-income earners, members of unemployment insurance funds, and those on sickness benefit.

And more budget news came today, with Minister of Social Insurance Ardalan Shekarabi (pictured above) announcing proposals for changes to pensions, and an increased housing supplement. 

Swedish vocabulary: tax cut – skattereduktion

Swedish region investigates mandatory Covid-19 vaccines for staff

The Dalarna region will investigate the possibility of only employing staff who are vaccinated against Covid-19, Moderate Party regional councillor Ulf Berg said.

“As a healthcare provider, we must do everything in our power to prevent the spread of infection. The right as an employer to opt out of [hiring] jobseekers who do not want to be vaccinated must be possible,” he justifies the decision in a press release.

Vaccination is voluntary in Sweden, and the Swedish Public Health Agency recommends that everyone from the age of 16 get the vaccine. Dalarna aims to conclude its investigation by the end of January 2022.

Swedish vocabulary: jobseeker – arbetssökande 

Changes to Sweden’s non-EU entry ban

The government will today announce a decision on extending its ban on entry to Sweden from non-EU countries, the TT newswire reports. There are several exceptions to the ban including those travelling for specific reasons, as well as people from certain countries, but six countries are now set to be removed from the exempt list: the United States, Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and northern Macedonia, based on a rise in Covid-19 infections in those countries.

That doesn’t necessarily mean all travel from those countries will be banned, as travellers may fall into another exempted category, such as travelling for urgent family reasons or if they have EU citizenship or a Swedish residence permit. The decision has come from an EU recommendation.

Interior Minister Mikael Damberg also hinted that further exemptions for vaccinated travellers may be on the way. “There are a number of countries with which Sweden has close relations. There, the government will now investigate the possibility of exempting fully vaccinated residents in certain third countries,” he said. “I am thinking primarily of the United Kingdom, but also the United States, even though the United States is more complex and many states have very different rules.”

Swedish vocabulary: exception – undantag

Property prices back on the rise

After a lull in July, Swedish house prices rose again in August, according to price indexes from bank SBAB and housing site Booli.

The rise varied across the country, with a 4.4 percent average rise for apartment prices in central Stockholm, compared to 1.3 percent in Stockholm and 1.1 percent in Malmö, though the Gothenburg region remained stagnant. 

House prices rose even more in Gothenburg and Malmö, by 2.8 and 3.8 percent respectively, but remained steady in Stockholm while central Sweden saw a decline of 0.6 percent. SBAB’s chief economist Robert Boije described the development as a “post-holiday effect”, in line with typical seasonal patterns for the market.

Swedish vocabulary: property prices – bopriser

Will September be hotter than August?

It’s a possibility, according to SVT’s meteorologist, after a disappointingly cool and windy summer in Sweden. The tropical storm Ida, which was previously classed as a hurricane and caused chaos in the US, is now approaching Sweden and could bring warmer temperatures of up to 20C, although the forecast is uncertain, SVT emphasised.

Swedish vocabulary: hurricane – orkan

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Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

New moves towards Nato, Ukrainians to Lund, and a fall in online sales. Find out what's going on in Sweden, with The Local's short roundup.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

Left-wing Aftonbladet newspaper backs Nato membership

The Aftonbladet newspaper, which describes itself as reflecting an “independent Social Democrat” viewpoint, has switched sides on Nato, with the newspaper’s chief political editor Anders Lindberg arguing in an editorial that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine makes membership of the security organisation necessary. 

“Vladimir Putin’s war demonstrates that we need to join Nato to guarantee Sweden’s security,” Lindberg wrote in an article on Wednesday.  

“I have never previously supported Swedish membership of Nato,” he explained. “On the contrary, I have argued that non-alignment, a strong national defence, and a pragmatic foreign and security policy has worked extremely well. It has kept us out of war and promoted our national interests.”  

But he said that Russia’s invasion had created a “security deficit in Northern Europe”. 

“When I read the arguments for continued military non-alignment, I cannot see any answers to the question of how we should compensate for this deficit,” he wrote. 

Swedish Vocab: en underksott – a deficit 

Finnish parliament to hold historic Nato debate 

The Finnish parliament is to hold a historic five-hour debate in parliament on Wednesday afternoon, which if it backs Nato membership, will make Nato membership for Sweden much more likely. 

The key will be the position taken by the Social Democrats, the part led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin, and also of the Centre Party, who say they will back Nato membership if the government as a whole does. 

The debate starts at 1.15pm Swedish time. 

Swedish Vocab: en besked – an indication/statement

‘No evidence riots result of foreign influence operation’

The new Swedish Psychological Defence Agency said on Wednesday that there was no evidence the riots over the weekend were encouraged by overseas powers. 

“At present we do not see any ongoing inappropriate influence operations against Sweden,” said Mikael Östlund, the communications chief at the Swedish Psychological Defence Agency. 

Police on Monday said that ahead of the riots over the Easter weekend, they had seen encouragement coming from overseas social media accounts. 

“We know that they is information about encouragement to commit violence against police officers, which has been orchestrated overseas,” said Jonas Hysing, the police officer leading the response to the riots, on Monday. ¨

Swedish vocab: påverkanskampanj – influence operation 

Lund wants to recruit more Ukrainian students 

Lund University wants to make it easier for students from Ukraine to study in Sweden, and has signed an exchange agreement with the Taras Sjevtjenko University in Kiev, it announced in a press release. There were ten Ukrainians studying in lund before Russia’s invasion, and the university aims for that number to increase and for those who are studying to be offered grants. 

Swedish vocab: att locka – to attract 

Swedish PM: ‘Police right to allow Paludan to burn Koran’
Sweden’s Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, has said that the police decision to allow Danish far-Right activist Rasmus Paludan to hold
a Koran-burning demonstration was correct under Sweden’s strong freedom of expression laws, and that, equally, those opposed have a right to mount a counter demonstration. 
“You have the right to demonstrate against it – but peacefully. What we’ve seen is something totally different, and it seems, as police are saying, that there have also been criminal gangs behind this.” 
“It’s important,” she added, “that those responsible are arrested and prosecuted.” 
She said the pictures of the riots had been “terrible”. “I have of course had a lot of thoughts about the police officers who were wounded.”
Swedish vocab: yttrandefriheten – freedom of expression
E-commerce falls from pandemic peak in Sweden

Revenues from e-commerce sites in Sweden fell 17 percent in March compared to the same month last year, according to the Swedish Trade Federation, with all the signs being that sales will decline this year compared to 2021.  

“The growth in e-commerce is flattening out, but it’s also a fact that the average purchase level in March 2022 was still 70 percent higher than just before the pandemic. The relatively high revenues from e-commerce are shadowed by the record year we saw in 2021,” said Johan Davidson, the trade body’s chief economist.