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TODAY IN SWEDEN

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

Asylum return centres, interest rate hike, Biden's Switzerland gaffe: find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup.

"Switzerland, my goodness – I’m getting really anxious here about expanding Nato." US President Joe Biden gives a press conference in Madrid. Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP

Sweden’s government proposes asylum return centres near airports

Sweden’s government has launched an inquiry into how to set up so-called “return centres” for rejected asylum seekers, which would increase the share who are promptly returned to their home countries.

The new return centres would be built close to airports in Sweden, enabling those ordered to return to their home countries to be rapidly and efficiently put on planes. 

“Establishing a return centres will make it possible to send a clear signal that the asylum process has been completed and that from that point on return will be the main focus,” Sweden’s immigration minister Anders Ygeman said at a press conference on Thursday. 

Swedish Vocab: ett avslag – a rejection

Sweden’s central bank brings in biggest rate hike in 22 years

Sweden’s Riksbank has raised interest rates by 50 points to 0.75 percent, in its biggest rate hike in 22 years.

The bank said it was now predicting that its key interest rate would rise to 1.36 percent in the last three months of 2022, up from the 0.81 percent it predicted at the end of April. 

Between the start of April and the end of June next year, it will rise to 1.9 percent (up for 1.18 predicted in April), and in the last six months of 2025, the rate will hit 2.06 percent, it said.

Swedish Vocab: en räntehöjning – an interest rate rise

Erdogan: Sweden has promised to extradite 73 people. 

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed at a press conference at the end of the Nato meeting in Madrid that Sweden had promised to extradite 73 people Turkey suspects of being terrorists to Turkey. 

“We want to strongly emphasise the message that we expect straightforward solidarity from our allies, not just words but also actions,” he said. 

Turkey’s justice minister, Bekir Bozdag, told Turkey’s NTV broadcaster on Wednesday that Sweden had promised to extradite 21 people to Turkey. 

Swedish vocab: att utlämna – to extradite 

Sweden insists on judicial independence in Turkey extradition decisions

Sweden insisted on Thursday that any decisions regarding the possible extradition of alleged Kurdish militants and coup plot suspects to Turkey would be made by “independent courts”.

“In Sweden, Swedish law is applied by independent courts. Swedish citizens are not extradited. Non-Swedish citizens can be extradited at the request of other countries, but only if it is compatible with Swedish law and the European Convention,” Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said in a written statement to AFP.

On Wednesday, Turkey had said it would seek the extradition of alleged Kurdish militants and coup plot suspects from Sweden and Finland under a deal to secure Ankara’s support for the Nordic countries’ NATO membership bids.

Swedish Vocab: oberoende domstolar – independent courts 

US President Biden mixes up Sweden and Switzerland at Nato summit

Joe Biden on Thursday said that Switzerland would be joining Nato, mixing the Alpine country up with Sweden in a press conference at the transatlantic alliance’s summit in Madrid on Thursday. The US president immediately corrected himself, making a joke of his gaffe. 

“We’ve invited two new members to join Nato. It was a historic act,” he told reporters, before relating an earlier phone call with the president of Finland.

He said: “We got on the telephone, he suggested we call the leader of, Switzerland – Switzerland, my goodness – I’m getting really anxious here about expanding Nato, of Sweden.”

Swedish vocab: en felsägning – a slip of the tongue

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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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