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EUROPEAN UNION

Swedish Liberals face expulsion from EU’s liberal party group

The Liberal Party's colleagues in Renew Europe, the EU parliament's liberal party group, are considering excluding the Swedish party from their group due to their cooperation with the Sweden Democrats.

Swedish Liberals face expulsion from EU's liberal party group
Liberal Party leader and Sweden's Employment and Integration Minister Johan Pehrson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

“The Swedish situation is not satisfactory – that’s the least you can say,” the leader of the group, French MEP Stéphane Séjourné said in a press briefing in Strasbourg.

Discussions are now ongoing in the Renew Europe group (RE) as to whether there is sufficient reason to expel the Liberals and their MEP Karin Karlsbro.

At a meeting in Brussels in his new role as Sweden’s Employment Minister, Liberal leader Johan Pehrson described it as “unthinkable” that his party colleague Karlsbro could be forced to leave the group, adding that his party “takes the criticism seriously”.

However, Pehrson stated that he has attempted to explain the situation to his liberal colleagues in Europe.

“I’m trying to explain what an exceptionally strong document we’ve produced, in the form of a governing document which shows meaningful liberal reforms in Sweden – but that means less migration. That’s also true,” he told TT newswire and public broadcaster Sveriges Radio in Brussels.

Despite defending Karlsbro and the Liberals’ place in the EU group, Pehrson also referenced the fact that his party is not the first in the EU’s liberal party group to work alongside parties like the Sweden Democrats.

“Other parties in our party group have previously worked alongside parties which aren’t exactly liberal,” Pehrson said.

For example, the Finnish Centre Party has previously worked together with the far-right True Finns, and the Danish Liberals have governed with the support of the Danish People’s Party. The Dutch People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) did the same with the support of Geert Wilders’ right-wing nationalist Party for Freedom (PVV).

“The Liberals have been solid members of RE as long as it has existed, but also of [European liberal party organisation] Alde for decades, and we will continue to do so,” he told reporters in Brussels.

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POLITICS

Swedish PM’s top aide resigns over illegal eel fishing

One of Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson's top aides has resigned from his post after it emerged that he had been fined by police for illegally fishing for eels and had twice lied to the authorities about what happened.

Swedish PM's top aide resigns over illegal eel fishing

PM Nilsson lied twice to police about eel fishing equipment he was caught with, the second time after he was appointed as state secretary at the end of October. 

After the resignation, Kristersson said he was disappointed that Nilsson, who had previously been a columnist for the Dagens Industri newspaper, had had to step down. 

“I think of course that it is unfortunate that this situation has come about, but I understand his decision,” he said in a written comment to the TT newswire. “PM Nilsson has been a highly appreciated member of the team and is a highly competent person. We are going to miss him.” 

READ ALSO: Why a political aide’s eel denial is causing friction in Sweden

Nilsson announced his decision on Facebook, saying that he had already apologised and paid the fines. 

“I understand how improper it is to fish for eels without a permit and to not tell things as they were to the authorities, even if I have since then rung the police and admitted that I had caught 15 fish,” he wrote in the post. 

Nilsson was recently fined for poaching eel in 2021, and has admitted to having lied to police in a conversation just before Christmas when he claimed that the eel-fishing equipment he had been caught with was not his. He later regretted this decision and informed the police.  

In his Facebook post, Nilsson referred to media reports that police were now investigating him for a further crime of contravening a law to protect endangered species, saying he did not know if this were the case. 

The opposition Social Democrats on Monday referred Ulf Kristersson to the parliament’s Committee on the Constitution, requiring him to explain the situation around Nilsson, and about whether Kristersson knew of the poaching incident when he appointed him, and also on the security vetting which took place. 

“We need to get clarity about how the process of recruiting him took place,” Ardalan Shekarabi, the party’s justice spokesman, said. “What we are chiefly reacting against is that the state secretary lied to the authorities.”

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