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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
Over half of all courses at Swedish universities are held in English. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB/TT

Government expected to announce plans for removing restrictions

The Swedish government announced plans to remove the majority of restrictions against Covid-19 at a press conference on Thursday morning.

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Health Minister Lena Hallengren and Director General of the Public Health Agency, Karin Tegmark Wisell, announced that almost all restrictions will be removed on February 9th, and that those working from home should prepare to return to work.

Hallengren had previously said that a “majority” of restrictions could be removed on February 9th, if the peak of Covid-19 infections had been reached and people continued to get vaccinated.

Swedish vocabulary: kulmen – peak, highest point

Over half of all courses at Swedish universities held in English

A new report from the Swedish Language Council analysing the language of education and publication in higher education and research in Sweden describes developments in recent years. The study covers the whole country and covers all universities and higher education institutes with data on the language of instruction – 40 institutions.

“If we look at the last fifteen years, it’s gone from 38 percent to 64 percent of programmes offered at an advanced level,” Hans Malmström, author of the report, told TT.

And the greatest increase occured after 2007, when a new education and exam structure was introduced in Sweden following the Bologna process – an agreement between European countries aimed to increase movement and employability and increase European competitiveness.

“That’s where it took off, that’s where higher education in Sweden began seriously to internationalise to be able to accept more incoming students and needed teachers who could teach in English,” Malmström told TT.

Nowadays, around ten percent of students at Swedish universities and higher education institutes come from outside Sweden, with fees for students outside the EU representing an important source of income.

Swedish vocabulary: kursspråk – language of instruction

Increase in paying members for Spotify amid controversy

Swedish music streaming service Spotify now has 180 million paying members, an increase by 16 procent in the last year, the company’s quarterly report states.

At the same time, income increased to 2,689 million euros, around 28 billion kronor.

This means that 2021 was the first year Spotify made a profit – but stocks have fallen despite this after worse-than-predicted performance in the first quarter of 2022.

Spotify has had a controversial few weeks, with the hashtag “cancelspotify” trending on Twitter after artists such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell removed their work from the platform in protest at Covid-19 misinformation.

The artists demanded that Spotify remove their music or drop podcaster Joe Rogan after a call from medical professionals to prevent Rogan from promoting “several falsehoods about Covid-19 vaccines”.

Swedish vocabulary: medlemmar – members

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

Nato, Nato, and more Nato: Find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup.

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

Sweden’s defence minister: Nato decision to be taken today

Sweden’s government will meet later on Monday to take the historical decision to join Nato, the country’s defence minister Peter Hultqvist, has told state broadcaster SVT. 

“I can’t say exactly when the application will be sent in, but the decision is going to be taken today,” he said. 

Turkey have voiced their opposition to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance.

Hultqvist said that Sweden was sending a group of civil servants to discuss Turkey’s objections to Swedish Nato membership — something Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday would not prevent Sweden joining the alliance. 

“We are going to a send a group of civil servants who are going to carry out a discussion and have a dialogue with Turkey, so then we’ll see how the issue can be solved and what the discussion is actually about. But the signals we’ve had from Nato are that there’s unanimity that both Sweden and Finland should join.” 

Swedish Vocab: avgör – to decide 

Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party backs Nato bid

Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party on Sunday said it was in favour of joining Nato, reversing its decades-long opposition and paving the way for the country to submit a membership application.

The turnaround comes amid soaring political and public support in Sweden for joining the Western military alliance after Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine.

The issue has divided Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s Social Democrats, with some party members expressing concern that the decision was being rushed through.

The party said on Sunday that if Sweden’s application were approved, it would work to express “unilateral reservations against the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish territory.”

Swedish vocab: att vara orolig – to be worried/concerned

Finland confirms it will apply to join Nato as Sweden set to follow

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö confirmed on Sunday that his country would apply for Nato membership as Sweden’s ruling party was to hold a decisive meeting that could pave the way for a joint application.

The announcement came after Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday they both favoured Nato membership, in a major policy shift prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Today, we, the president and the government’s foreign policy committee, have together decided that Finland … will apply for Nato membership,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Helsinki on Sunday.

“I have great feelings, of course, this is an historic day. It started in the morning when I visited the memorial service to honour Finland’s fallen heroes”, Niinistö told reporters.

Niinistö said that the decision will secure Finland’s security policy and that it “does not disadvantage anyone”.

Sweden’s foreign minister Ann Linde said the decision would have “great significance” for Sweden.

Swedish vocab: betydelse – significance 

US in support of Sweden and Finland joining Nato

The State Department’s top diplomat for Europe, Karen Donfried, and President Joe Biden have reiterated US support for Sweden and Finland joining Nato, ahead of a meeting between Alliance foreign ministers in Berlin on Saturday.

In a phone call on Friday morning with Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, US President Joe Biden reiterated support for Nato’s open-door policy, the White House said. He had also stressed that Sweden and Finland had the right to decide their own future.

Donfried said on Friday: “The United States would support Finland or Sweden joining Nato should they choose to do so.” A formal membership application by the two countries would be “further evidence of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic miscalculation,” she said.

Finland and Sweden are “valued Nato partners” and “thriving democracies,” Donfried said. Referring to remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the top diplomat said Turkey’s position must now be clarified. 

Swedish vocab: att stödja – to support