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

Snow warning, new patient fees confirmed, new international rail service, Sweden moves to criminalise membership of terror groups and majority of Finns want to join Nato without Sweden. Here's Sweden's news on Friday.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
New patient fees have now been confirmed for 2023. Photo: Isabell Höjman/TT

Yellow warning for snow in southern Sweden

SMHI, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, has issued a yellow warning for snowfall covering large areas of Västra Götaland, Halland, Blekinge as well as parts of Kronoberg, Kalmar, Skåne and Jönköping counties.

Between 5-10 centimetres of snow is expected to fall throughout the day, with up to 15 centimetres expected in some areas.

SMHI has issued a yellow warning for this area, where between 5-15cm snow is expected to fall throughout Friday. Graphic: Johan Hallnäs/TT

It’s expected to cause issues on the roads, such as slippy conditions and bad visibility, as well as a risk of delays and cancelled departures on public transport, and limited accessibility on some roads.

SMHI also warn that the snow could cause issues with electricity production and telephone networks in the affected area.

Snow is also expected for western Svealand, but not enough to cause issues on the roads.

Swedish vocabulary: gul varning för snöfall – yellow warning for snowfall

New rail service planned through Norway, Sweden and Denmark to Hamburg

Sweden’s state-owned railway SJ, along with Denmark’s DSB and Germany’s DB, plans to offer a new international train line which runs between the Norwegian capital Oslo and Hamburg in northern Germany.

The planned route would run daily, departing from Oslo at 8am before making stops in Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen and arriving in Hamburg at 7pm. A service departing Hamburg and terminating in Gothenburg is also planned.

The 11 hour service would be quicker than the equivalent journey using either a car and ferry connection or existing train services.

The planned service will enter into operation in 2027. Petter Essén, head of SJ’s vehicle and traffic programme, said the route made sense as it would connect a long stretch which doesn’t have continuous train traffic.

Swedish vocabulary: tåglinje – train line

POLL: Majority of Finns want to join Nato before Sweden

A majority of Finns want to go it alone and join Nato without Sweden, if the latter country’s membership is delayed, a poll suggested on Thursday, after Turkey said it could accept Finland without Sweden.

More than half of respondents, 53 percent, replied negatively when asked “whether Finland should wait for Sweden” even “if it takes longer to ratify Sweden’s accession, for example because of opposition from Turkey”.

Only 28 percent believed Finland should wait for Sweden and enter the US-led military alliance together.

The poll by Taloustutkimus, published by Finnish daily Ilta-Sanomat, surveyed 1,021 Finns between January 30th and February 1st.

Swedish vocabulary: gå med i Nato utan Sverige – join Nato without Sweden

Sweden to make it illegal to be active in a terrorist organisation

Sweden’s government has submitted a new terror bill which could help convince Turkey that the country is acting to crack down on Swedish residents active in the Kurdish PKK terror group.

The new proposal, titled “a special penalty provision for participation in a terrorist organisation”, will make participation in the activities of a terrorist organisation in any way that “promotes, strengthens or supports” the organisation punishable with up to four years in prison.

“This is a wider criminalisation that takes aim at a slew of activities within a terrorist organisation that don’t need to be concretely connected to a specific terrorist crime,” Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer told a press conference.

“Sweden has an increased terrorist threat which must be taken very seriously,” he continued. “Now the government is putting forward a legislative proposal which means that both participation in and financing of participation in terrorist organisations will be punishable.”

Actions such as handling equipment, organising camps or locations for meetings, cooking or being in charge of transport for designated terrorist organisations would be criminalised under the new law, which Strömmer stressed was a “considerable widening of the scope compared to current legislation”.

The government hopes to be able to submit the proposal to parliament on March 7th, and for it to come into force by June 1st.

Swedish vocabulary: terrororganisation – terrorist organisation

Swedish regions approve new patient fees

Sweden’s healthcare regions have now approved this year’s patient fees and high cost protection amount, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKR) wrote in a press release.

The Västernorrland region raised the fee for doctor’s visits in primary healthcare and specialised outpatient care from 300 to 330 kronor, with no other regions choosing to do so.

At the turn of the year, the high cost protection amount available for outpatient care was raised in all but one region by 100 kronor to 1,300 kronor, meaning that a patient will pay a maximum of 1,300 kronor per year out-of-pocket for these services before the state steps in to cover the cost.

In Region Uppsala, however, a patient will pay a maximum of 1,200 kronor for outpatient care.

High cost protection for inpatient care is calculated on a daily basis, with patients now paying 120 kronor per day, an extra 10 kronor than last year. There are two regions with different fees for inpatient care: Region Östergotland, where patients pay 100 kronor, and Region Uppsala, where patients pay 110 kronor.

Swedish vocabulary: öppen vård – outpatient care, sluten vård – inpatient care

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For members


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

When will key interest rates drop, how large will your pay rise be this year, changes to residence permits for rejected asylum seekers and new Nato news. Here's Sweden's news on Friday.

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

SBAB bank predicts key interest rates will drop in November

A new interest rate prognosis from SBAB bank predicts that Sweden’s central bank will hike key interest rates substantially in April, but will be able to lower them again as early as November.

In the new report, state-owned SBAB bank believes that the central bank will raise key interest rates by 0.5 percentage points to a total of 3.5 percent.

Unlike many other banks, SBAB does not believe that the central bank will raise rates at the following meeting this summer, rather that rates will remain the same from April until November, after which they will drop by 0.25 percentage points to 3.25 percent.

“We believe that we will soon see underlying inflation and not least food prices dropping back,” chief economist Robert Boije told TT newswire.

It further predicts that the average interest rate on mortgages could hit a peak of 4.8 percent in the autumn, and that the drop in key interest rates in November will be the first of many, leading to a key interest rate of 2 percent by 2024.

Swedish vocabulary: styrränta – key interest rates, snittränta – average interest rate

Decision time for Swedish pay rises

At the end of this month, many salary agreements on the Swedish labour market will run out, meaning that unions and employers have been working hard throughout the winter to come to a new agreement.

Over the past 25 years, salary negotiations in industry have had knock-on effects for the rest of the labour market, with pay rises in the industrial sector setting the bar for how high pay rises will be across the board, which other branches usually follow.

The industrial unions and their corresponding employer groups have now had a first offer from the mediators, the so-called Impartial Chairmen (Opo). This afternoon, they are expected to answer, although the first answer is usually a ‘no’ from the unions, before a better offer is made within a week.

The unions have called for a 4.4 percent payrise in a one-year deal, with a higher bonus for those earning under 27,000 kronor a month, plus extra hikes on the lowest salaries. Employers have offered 2 percent plus a one-time 3,000 kronor bonus.

Historically, the final deal usually ends up at around three quarters of the original demands of the unions, which would be around 3.3 percent.ey are still supporting them.

Swedish vocabulary: facket – union, löneökningar – pay rises

Court ruling tightens residency rules for Sweden’s ‘high school law’

Rejected asylum seekers hoping to stay in Sweden under the so-called high school law will now have to have signed a job contract before their temporary residency runs out, following a court judgement.

The law, brought in by the former Social Democrat and Green Party coalition, was recently described as a “half-amnesty” by Mikael Ribbenvik, the outgoing head of the Migration Agency. 

Under the law, asylum seekers who have completed upper secondary school education can be given permanent residency if they show they can support themselves. 

Previously it was enough to be able to support yourself at the point when the Migration Agency handles your case. 

But after a judgment from the Migration Court of Appeal, the Migration Agency now believes that the applicant must have started their job before their temporary residency expires. 

Swedish vocabulary: gymnasielagen – high school law

Swedish PM to seek explanation from Hungary on Nato delay

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Thursday he would seek an explanation from Hungary about why it is delaying its parliament’s ratification of Sweden’s Nato bid but not Finland’s.

“I’m going to ask why they are now separating Sweden from Finland. These are signals we have not received before, so I’m absolutely going to raise this with (Hungarian prime minister Viktor) Orbán today,” Kristersson told public broadcaster Sveriges Radio.

Orbán and Kristersson both attended an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party has said parliament will ratify Finland’s bid on March 27th, but “will decide on the case of Sweden later”.

On Thursday, Orbán’s chief-of-staff Gergely Gulyás told reporters there was “a serious chance” the Swedish bid would be ratified during the ongoing parliamentary session which runs until June 15.

Swedish vocabulary: Ungern – Hungary

Sweden Democrats threatens government crisis over biofuels obligation

The far-right Sweden Democrats are threatening to push Sweden’s three-party ruling coalition into a political crisis as they fail to reach agreement over how drastically to cut the country’s biofuels obligation, a key part in its plan to reduce emissions.

The party is claiming that a pledge in the Tidö Agreement calling for the biofuels obligation, or reduktionsplikt, to be cut to the “lowest EU level”, should mean that the amount of biofuels that must be blended into petrol and diesel and Sweden should be cut to close to zero, rather than to about half the current share, as suggested by ongoing EU negotiations. 

“We are being tough in the negotiations because of the power we have as the biggest party in this bloc,” Oscar Sjöstedt, the party’s finance spokesperson told TV4. “There is going to be a change at the end of the year that is going to be pretty significant and substantial, that I’m 99.9 percent certain about, otherwise we will have a government crisis.” 

The Liberal Party is pushing for a much less severe reduction, perhaps to a little more than half the current level, where 30.5 percent of all petrol and diesel must be biofuel. 

Swedish vocabulary: reduktionsplikt – biofuels obligation