Sweden assumes EU presidency with focus on ‘safer’ Europe
Sweden takes over the EU Council presidency from the Czech Republic on Sunday, giving the Scandinavian country a leadership role and key mediator in Brussels over the next six months.
“Sweden is taking over the presidency at a time when the Union is facing historic challenges,” Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said in mid-December.
In a statement on his website, he cited the Ukraine war, the battle against climate change and European competitiveness as key issues that needed to be addressed. Sweden’s priorities are to focus on a “greener, safer and freer Europe”.
Kristerson and his government remain relatively unknown faces on the EU platform.
The Conservative government was in power for only two and a half months, replacing Magdalena Anderson.
Kristersson is the first Swedish head of government to work closely with the right-wing Sweden Democrats.
The Populists are not in government, but as the second strongest parliamentary force and with more seats than Kristersons party, the Moderates, they still hold a lot of power in Stockholm.
Despite the EU’s skepticism towards this supportive party, Sweden’s European Union Minister Jessica Roswall announced that her government would “give the highest priority to the work of the European Union”.
In foreign policy, Sweden is expected to give priority to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The country will prioritize continuing military and economic support to Ukraine and believes that it should also support Ukraine’s accession process to the European Union and take further steps to rebuild the country.
Stockholm is also keen to intensify contacts with the concerned countries.
Referring to the importance of the security situation in the Balkans, she stated that stability and security in the eastern Mediterranean are in the strategic interest of the European Union.
Sweden also believes that cooperation and mutually beneficial relations with Turkey are important to the EU’s strategic interests.
The Swedish government, which calls for maintaining strong transatlantic relations with the United States, will try to direct its economic policies in the environment brought by the protectionist economic decisions of the American administration, which may negatively affect European countries.
The EU’s 27 members rotate the presidency every six months.