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

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
Swedish Defence Minister Pål Jonson, left, speaks during a meeting with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin, right, at the Pentagon. Photo: AP Photo/Kevin Wolf

Sweden and US sign historic defence agreement, appeals court overturns Tesla provisional ruling, and we now know why 'Hesa Fredrik' was silent in Stockholm the other day. Here's the latest news.

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US and Sweden sign historic defence cooperation agreement

The United States and Sweden on Tuesday signed a first-ever defence cooperation agreement that will strengthen military ties and permit bilateral exercises as the Scandinavian nation awaits accession to Nato, authorities said.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin signed the agreement with Swedish Defence Minister Pål Jonson.

The defence pact paves the way for "US forces to operate in Sweden, including the legal status of US military personnel, access to deployment areas (and) prepositioning of military materiel," the AFP news agency quoted a Pentagon statement as saying. 

Swedish vocabulary: defence – försvar

Swedish appeals court overturns Tesla decision

Tesla will have to wait even longer for its licence plates, after the Göta appeals court halted a provisional decision by the district court to order the Swedish Transport Agency to allow the car manufacturer to collect its plates directly from the manufacturer pending a trial. 

Tesla is currently facing strikes on multiple fronts in Sweden over its refusal to sign a collective wage agreement for its mechanics. On November 20th, Swedish postal workers joined in and began halting deliveries to Tesla offices and repair shops, including licence plates.

The Transport Agency is not part of the strike, but argued it could not deliver the plates due to the postal workers' strike. An interim decision by the district court ordered the agency to let Tesla collect its plates from the manufacturer until a trial could be held. That provisional ruling has now been thrown out by the appeals court, after the Transport Agency insisted on being permitted to give a statement first.

The courts have not yet made a final decision on the case as a whole. The provisional decisions only relate to whether Tesla has the right to receive its number plates pending a trial. In a separate lawsuit, which is also still ongoing, Tesla has also sued postal service Postnord.

Swedish vocabulary: to appeal – att överklaga

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Why Hesa Fredrik was silent in Stockholm the other day

As The Local reported, authorities have been scratching their heads after Sweden's emergency siren system "Hesa Fredrik", which is tested on the first Monday of March, June, September and December at 3pm, did not go off in several areas of Stockholm this week.

The Civil Contingencies Agency has now put the issue down to a faulty key switch. After the problem was discovered, it was decided not to carry out a delayed test (presumably as Swedes would assume they were under attack or there was a serious disaster if the alarm was sounded at any other time than 3pm on the first Monday of the month), so the next test will take place as scheduled in March.

The key switch has now been replaced, writes the agency in a press statement.

“In case of a real emergency situation, there is always an extra panel available to activate the alarm,” it stressed.

Swedish vocabulary: to discover – att upptäcka

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Swedish students' maths and reading scores plunge in Pisa world rankings

The performance of Swedish teenagers has plummeted in maths and reading according to the latest Pisa world rankings, reversing much of the country's improvement in recent years.

Swedish ninth-graders (15-year-olds) scored 482 in mathematics (down 21 points compared to the latest survey in 2018) and 487 in reading (down 19 points on 2018) in 2022. Their results remained within the margins of error in science, with a score of 494 (down 6 points).

Sweden’s results are now only marginally better than they were in 2012, when they dropped so sharply that they provoked scathing criticism and calls for reforms of the school system. The country then managed to improve its results in 2018, leading to a collective sigh of relief.

Unlike in 2012, the new drop follows a global trend, the head of the Swedish National Agency for Education pointed out at a press conference. Sweden remains above the OECD average in all three subjects, which wasn’t the case when the 2012 survey was carried out.

Swedish vocabulary: maths – matte (mathematics – matematik)

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