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Sweden will not grow by ‘frightening away talent from other countries’

The former leader of Sweden's Moderate Party has warned against "frightening away top talent from other countries" by driving a "historically restrictive" migration policy and making it more difficult for researchers to get visas.

Sweden will not grow by 'frightening away talent from other countries'
Anna Kindberg Batra, , the Moderate party's former leader said every government she had been a part of had driven pro-growth policies. Photo: TT

Anna Kinberg Batra, who led the party from 2015 to 2017, wrote in the Dagens Industri newspaper that the liberal labour migration reforms that the Moderate Party government brought in back in 2008 had been a “growth-friendly reform” which “strengthened Sweden on the international talent market”. 

Given that the article comes only three days to go before parliament is set to vote on significantly increasing the minimum salary for a work permit, undoing one of the key planks of those 2008 reforms, this is an implicit criticism of the new government’s political programme. 

Kinberg Batra also criticised other changes to labour migration rules, noting that a change in rules for researchers from other countries, which came into force on November 1st, means that researchers from countries like the US now have to physically apply for a research visa, whereas before they could handle the process digitally.

The former process, she stressed, demanded “less time, energy, and money”. 

People with foreign backgrounds have been central to Sweden’s growth in recent years, she argued, mentioning two winners of this year’s “New Builder of the Year” award. 

Zaid Saeed won the award for his quantum computing start-up Scallinq, a spin-off from his work as a physics professor at Chalmers University of Technology. Rim Alexandra Halfya, meanwhile won the award for starting the building technology company Combify together with Alaa Alshawa, who came to Sweden from Syria in 2015. 

Sweden, she said, needed more people like this, “who don’t wait to receive a job, but go and create one for themselves instead”. 

All the previous governments she had played a part in had sought to find ways to make Sweden a more productive, more efficient, more dynamic economy, she added. The 2006 government led by Fredrik Reinfeldt liberalised labour migration laws, among other measures, even though it had also had to deal with the financial crisis.

The government led by Carl Bildt from 1991-1994 also had to deal with an economic crisis, but Kinberg Batra wrote that as a young political advisor, she helped launch ideas “every week” to “rebuild Sweden as a growth-driven and business-friendly nation with a strong and growing economy”. 

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MIGRATION

Italian PM Meloni in Stockholm to discuss migration with Swedish PM

Giorgia Meloni, Italy's Prime Minister, is visiting Stockholm on Friday to meet Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and discuss EU issues, including migration.

Italian PM Meloni in Stockholm to discuss migration with Swedish PM

Meloni, leader of the right-wing populist Brothers of Italy party, is the second government leader to visit Kristersson after Finland’s Sanna Marin, who was in Stockholm earlier this week.

The two leaders will discuss migration, as well as how the EU should respond to the American Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which could pull investment and jobs from the EU to the US.

“There is a strong Swedish interest in better protection of the European border,” Kristersson told TT newswire.

The migration issue has been described as “acute”, with the EU scheduling an extra summit meeting in a week’s time to discuss both migration and the IRA.

When asked if Sweden and Italy have the same views on how to tackle migration, Kristersson replied that that “remains to be seen”.

“We have this summit in a week, initiated by Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria, who have seen extremely large numbers of refugees over a very short period,” he added.

Kristersson further said that the topic of conversation with Meloni will be how the EU’s outer borders could be made more difficult for migrants to cross.

“One of the points of discussion today is how we can strengthen the external border of the EU so that irregular migration, as it’s known, simply cannot enter the EU, and stopping it at the border instead.”

“There are many people who lack grounds for asylum who try to enter [the EU], and Italy is well aware of this,” Kristersson said.

He added that the current situation “is not working”, and that there are “a lot of people” who come to Europe without grounds for asylum, who then “enter and live in a shadow society, also in Sweden”.

No press conferences or photo opportunities are planned during Meloni’s visit, the Swedish cabinet committee told TT.

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