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

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 Wednesday
Fire services and police work to put out a fire in a number of connected buildings on the southern hospital campus in Ängelholm, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Meeting with UK-led military group ‘sends an important signal’: Swedish PM 

Sweden plans to further develop its defence cooperation with the UK-led JEF, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said at the end of a meeting in London with leaders of the 10-country defence group, which she said “sends an important signal”. 

“This meeting is an important signal to the world around us on our cooperation and unity,” Andersson told Swedish journalists in London. “We are determined to continue with our sanctions against Russia and our support for Ukraine.” 

In a joint statement following the meeting, the JEF stopped short of guaranteeing Sweden’s security. 

“We will work in complementarity to Nato and the EU to ensure that Russia cannot continue to threaten European security,” the group said, “including through recalibrating our approach to Russia, reducing our reliance on Russian hydrocarbons, taking part in forward defence in conjunction with our Allies, reinforcing our cooperation within and beyond the JEF, and playing an active part in restoring a safer and more peaceful world.” 

In the statement, JEF countries said they would soon launch “an enhanced programme of integrated JEF exercises and activities at sea, on land and in the air in the High North, North Atlantic and Baltic Sea region.”

Man arrested over Skåne hospital fire 

A twenty-year-old man has been seized on suspicion of arson, after a fire broke out in two houses in the hospital district of Ängelholm, southern Sweden. 

“Staff from ten different fire stations took part in the operation, which is now winding down,” Glenn Borgkvist, from the local rescue services, told TT at around 7.35am this morning.

Emergency services in the city fought through the night to put out the fire, which was under control by 9am. 

“At lunch, we expect to be able to go over into some form of monitoring phase,” Borgkvist said. 

Five connected buildings are affected, including preschools and a care home for the elderly.

40 people have been evacuated and nearby residents have been told to stay indoors and close their windows and ventilation systems to keep out smoke. There are no known injuries.

Swedish vocabulary: mordbrand – arson

Swedish regions considering vaccination buses for Ukrainian refugees 

All Ukrainians over twelve years old who come to Sweden will be offered the Covid-19 vaccine, Sweden’s health agencies and regional health authorities have decided, with some regions planning to use vaccination buses, and other considering drop-in vaccination centres.  

The World Health Organisation recently warned that war in Ukraine could increase the spread of infection of Covid-19. Vaccine coverage in the country is low, around 35 percent according to Our World in Data, and the country was in a fourth wave of infection when Russia invaded.

Sweden’s regional health authorities are now working on how best to spread information about the importance of vaccination. Ukrainians fleeing the war will not have to pay for a vaccine, and it will be possible for them to get vaccinated without a Swedish social security number or personnummer.

Some regions are also cooperating with the Migration Agency to offer vaccines at refugee housing centres.

Here is The Local’s guide on how to book Covid-19 vaccines in each Swedish region, as well as advice on how to do so if you don’t have a personnummer.

Swedish vocabulary: flyktingboende – refugee housing centre

EU citizens eligible for SFI studies are having their applications rejected

According to the Swedish Education Act (Skollagen), an individual has the right to study SFI from July in the year they turn 16 if they live in Sweden and lack the basic knowledge of the Swedish language which the course is designed to teach.

Usually, “living in Sweden” means that an applicant needs to be registered in the Tax Agency’s population register, meaning that they have a personnummer.

However, under EU law, EU citizens (as well as EES and Swiss citizens), have the right to study SFI in Sweden even if they don’t have this number.

Despite this, multiple Swedish municipalities wrongly require EU citizens applying to study SFI to provide a personnummer or, in some cases, a coordination number (samordningsnummer). A coordination number is a temporary number which can be provided to those who don’t qualify for a personnummer, but who still need an identification number in order, for example, to pay tax.

The Local found that at least four Swedish municipalities who were demanding applicants fulfil extra requirements not set out in the Education Act in order to register for their SFI courses. Read more here.

Swedish vocabulary: att vara bosatt – to be resident

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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