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

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 Monday
Lillgrund, the Swedish offshore windpark in the Öresund strait, south of Malmö. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/Scanpix/TT

Sweden towns record warmest March days on record 

Several places in Sweden saw their highest March temperatures on record on Sunday, with Torpshammar, near Sundsvall in Västernorrland, recording a temperature of 16.8C on Sunday.

This was the highest temperature anywhere in the country so far this year, although Gävle and Delsbo in Gävleborg were close behind, with both recording temperatures of 16.7C. 

“It’s been warm across the country, but it’s been mostly in the middle and north of Norrland that we’ve had temperatures that are a long way above normal,” Ida Dahlström, a meteorologist with state weather forecaster SMHI, told the TT newswire.

“When it comes to Delsbo, this is the highest march temperature recorded since records began in 1898.” 

March heat records have also been set in the northern cities of Kiruna and Umeå. 

Swedish Vocab. Värmerekord – heat record 

Increase in reported IT attacks in recent weeks

The number of reported IT incidents taking place in Swedish authorities has seen a large increase in recent weeks, Sweden’s radio state broadcaster, SR, has reported. 

According to Peter Jonegård, deputy head of the the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency’s Computer Emergency Response Team, the number of reported attacks has increased from around 200 per week to between 400 and 500 in recent weeks, although this does not mean that more cyber attacks are occurring.

“There is a larger number, but the threshold at which people contact us has also been lowered, so we can’t say for sure today that it’s an increase which is due to an increase in attacks,” Jonegård told SR.

Swedish vocabulary: cyberangrepp, it-attack – cyber attack, IT attack

Swedish fishermen concerned about offshore wind farms: ‘catastrophe’

Swedish fishermen have warned that plans to build offshore wind farms, particularly in the Skagerrak, the strait north of Denmark and west of Gothenburg, will be a “catastrophe”. 

The Swedish Pelagic Federation – a group of fishermen who catch fish such as herring, mackerel and sprats, which are not found on the seabed – fear that new wind farms will affect their catch.

“We can’t go in zigzags around the wind turbines,” Anton Paulrud, chairman of the Swedish Pelagic Federation, told the TT newswire. “Trawlers can be 500 meters long, plus cables. On top of that, there needs to be a safety zone. On the one hand, you can damage the wind turbines, but the worst thing would be for the boat to get caught in something. That could be really bad.”

Fishermen who catch fish by trawling on the seabed can’t fish in these areas at all, due to the risk of damaging cables used in the wind farms.

There are currently applications for around 40 possible offshore windfarms off the coast of Sweden, according to Svenska Kraftnät, the authority responsible for Sweden’s national grid.

“Even if just a small amount are built, it would be a catastrophe,” said Paulrud.

Swedish vocabulary: vindkraft till havs – offshore wind farms

Long waits to renew Swedish passports could be illegal

In many parts of Sweden, it is now impossible to renew your passport until after summer, with some regions lacking available appointments before September.

At least 20 people have reported the police to the Parliamentary Ombudsman in frustration at these long waiting times.

The ombudsman is responsible for investigating Swedish authorities and ensuring that their actions follow the law. Long waiting times mean Swedes without a valid passport are unable to leave the country, which could go against Sweden’s constitution.

“It’s not unproblematic,” Tormod Otter Johansen, a senior lecturer in public law at Gothenburg University, told TT. “Of course it’s not enough that you are formally allowed to leave the country. If you in practice cannot leave the country because you aren’t able to get a passport, then that’s a limitation placed on a freedom you’re entitled to.”

However, Johansen believes that bringing the issue to court would be difficult. “Potentially, you could sue the state if you had experienced some form of damages – ideally an economic damage due to the fact that you can’t travel abroad. Then you’d go the damages route, even if the threshold there is high.”

Appealing to administrative courts would be even more difficult, because of the fact that there is no delay in processing applications, rather a delay in booking a time slot to apply.

“There’s no decision to appeal, as you haven’t been able to make an application, which is a bit of a Catch-22.” Johansen said.

Here’s The Local’s article on what’s going on with Swedish passport renewals, and how you can apply.

Swedish vocabulary: grundlag – constitution

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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