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TODAY IN SWEDEN

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

Nato deal with Turkey, pilot strike postponed, and the return of nuclear: find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
A hand pump at a well in the Swedish countryside. Photo: Martina Holmberg/TT

Turkey drops objections to Sweden joining Nato

Turkey on Tuesday evening dropped its objections to Sweden and Finland joining Nato, paving the way for the two Nordic nations to join the North Atlantic defence alliance.

“We have reached an agreement between Sweden, Turkey and Finland which means that Turkey now accepts that we will be granted invitee status in Nato. That’s important, as it will improve Sweden’s security,” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said after a meeting in Madrid with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In a press release, Nato said that the foreign ministers of Turkey, Sweden and Finland had all signed a trilateral memorandum (find copy here) which addressed “Türkiye’s legitimate security concerns”.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Nato leaders would as a result now be able to issue a formal invitation to Sweden and Finland to join the alliance.

“I’m pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join Nato. Turkey, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Turkey’s concerns, including around arms exports,
and the fight against terrorism,” he said.

In the deal, Sweden commits to resuming weapons sales to Turkey, to cease supporting the Kurdish PYD government in northern Syria, and to handle extradition requests from Turkey for those it suspects of links to the PKK or Gülen Movement “expeditiously and thoroughly”.  

Swedish Vocab: en överenskommelse  – an agreement 

Pilot unions postpone strike until Saturday 

Sweden’s pilot union has postponed a strike planned for Wednesday until Saturday morning, to provide time for extra negotiations with the Scandinavian airline SAS. 

As many as 900 pilots were expected to go on strike, affecting up to 30,000 travellers, but at forty minutes past midnight on Wednesday, SAS said that the talks would be extended. 

Swedish Vocab: förhandlingar – negotiations

Risk of summer water shortages across Sweden 

Groundwater levels are low across large parts of Sweden, making water shortages likely, the Geological Survey of Sweden has said in its latest report

Groundwater levels are low across almost all of Götaland, most of Svealand och about half of Norrland, compared with what is normal for the season, meaning even a normally dry summer will lead to shortages. 

Swedish Vocab: grundvatten – groundwater  

Sweden’s state power company to study building mini nuclear plants

Sweden’s state power company Vattenfall is looking into building a series of small modular nuclear reactors at the site of its decommissioned Ringhals plant, in what would be the first new nuclear power station in the country since 1980.

The company’s chief executive Anna Borg said in a press release on Tuesday that the first new reactors could come into operation by the early 2030s, “provided that a pilot study concludes that it would be profitable and all other conditions for a future investment decision are met, in particular, new regulations for nuclear power”.

The statement comes at a time when Sweden’s right-wing opposition has politicised the issue of nuclear power, criticising the Social Democrat-led government for allowing the first two nuclear power plants built at Ringhals near Gothenburg to be decommissioned in 2019 and 2020, five years earlier than intended when they were built.

“I think it’s fantastic and exciting news that Vattenfall wants to invest in new nuclear power in southern Sweden,” said Carl-Oskar Bolin, chair of the Swedish parliament’s business committee. “This is exactly what’s required to stabilise power prices in the long run.”

Swedish Vocab: att utreda – to investigate 

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TODAY IN SWEDEN

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

Parties call for compulsory pre-schools, insulating homes, and state paying energy costs, plus Biden signs Nato bid: find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup.

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

US President Biden signs ratification of Finnish and Swedish Nato bids

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed US ratification of bids by Finland and Sweden to enter Nato, taking expansion of the Western alliance in response to Russia’s Ukraine invasion one step closer.

Biden said the two northern European countries would become “strong, reliable highly capable new allies” by making the “sacred commitment” to
mutual defense in the US-led transatlantic alliance. 

Earlier this month, the Senate voted 95-1 in favor of the Nordic states’ accession, making the United States the 23rd of the 30 Nato countries to give formal endorsement. Unanimous support is needed for new membership.

Biden, who has made restoring traditional US alliances a cornerstone of his administration after Donald Trump’s move to upend ties around the world,
praised Nato as “the foundation of American security.”

“The United States is committed to the transatlantic alliance.”

Biden also praised Finland and Sweden, saying both have “strong democratic institutions, strong militaries and strong and transparent economies” that would now bolster Nato.

Swedish vocab: att undertecka – to sign 

Liberal party calls for compulsory kindergarten for toddlers with poor Swedish

The Liberal Party has called for children between the ages of two and five who are considered to have a low level of Swedish to be forced to attend pre-school or dagis, as the party announced its election manifesto on Tuesday. 

Liberal leader Johan Pehrson said that all children who do not already attend pre-schools would be required to have their language ability assessed by their local primary health centre, and then be sent to special “language pre-schools” to speed up language development, if they have poor Swedish.

In the manifesto, the party reiterated its calls for 1,000 new special teachers, better conditions for teachers, and more order in the classroom. 

Swedish vocab: en plikt – a duty 

Green Party: government should pay to insulate homes 

Sweden’s green party is proposing that Sweden’s government pay 80 percent of the costs of installing air or groundwater heat pumps, and improving ventilation and isolation in people’s homes, as a way of reducing their energy costs this coming winter. 

“The long-term solution for keeping down energy costs is for the state to help households reduce energy use now as much as possible,” he said. “If you succeed in putting in place these measures, then they won’t only have an impact this winter but in many future winters to come.” 

Swedish vocab: åtgärder – measures 

Sweden’s Moderates call for state to foot private energy bills

The opposition Moderate Party has proposed that the government contribute towards households’ electricity bills this winter, as electricity prices are expected to rise.

The party is proposing a system of “high-cost protection” or högkostnadsskydd similar to that found in Norway, where the state will commit to covering a percentage of all costs over a certain figure.

It is not yet clear how the system would work, but the Moderates’ finance spokesperson, Elisabeth Svantesson, said it the government should set a price threshold, above which the government would shoulder the majority of any extra cost.

“You could expect the state to pay for 75 percent of the cost of everything over one krona per kilowatt hour,” she suggested, adding that a one krona threshold would cut around 6,000 kronor off the energy bill of an average family in Norrland.

“We can’t completely protect the consumer, but we can make it easier,” she said. “No one should be forced to leave their home this winter because of an electricity bill.”

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is open to the suggestion, stating that her party would “study the proposal very carefully”.

Swedish vocab: högkostnadsskydd – high cost protection 

Swedish PM: Moderate Party’s property tax warnings ‘completely absurd’

In a long interview broadcast on Swedish state radio broadcaster SR, Andersson stressed that her party had no plans to bring back the property tax abolished by the Moderate-led government back in 2008.

“We are not going to campaign on the back of a property tax, have no plans to do it, and have shown over the last eight years that we are not doing it,” she said. “It is completely absurd that the Moderates are running their campaign about this for the third or fourth time in a row. They were cranking this out in 2014, 2018 and now in 2022, and we have not brought back the property tax.”

When pushed by the interviewer, however, Andersson refused to absolutely rule out making any changes to Sweden’s system of property taxation.

“If I start to draw red lines, I will risk creating an even more locked situation after the election,” she said. “But there’s no question over what I believe. If you don’t want to bring back property tax, you should vote for the Social Democrats.”

The Swedish Trade Union Confederation LO, is in favour of bringing back the property tax, which it describes as “one of the best taxes”, as is the Left Party.

Swedish vocab: att lova – to promise

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