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Sweden takes over EU presidency under pressure of far-right party

Sweden took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU from the Czech Republic on 1 January 2023. It will end the 18-month program of the 11th Tripartite Presidency consisting of Sweden, France and the Czech Republic, which will hold the term presidency for the third time after 2001 and 2009, until 30 June 2023.

Regarding Sweden's preparations for the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the former Social Democratic government under Magdalena Andersson set a general direction for the Swedish Presidency in May 2021, following consultations in the Swedish parliament, the Rikstag. Consisting of five focus areas, the orientation aimed to strengthen the EU's role in the world while also ensuring the safety of EU citizens, stopping organized crime, accelerating the climate transition, strengthening the EU's competitiveness and protecting the EU's core values. The new Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, who took office as a result of the general election held in September 2022, pointed out the continuity of this orientation by referring to the inter-party preparations for the term presidency in his government statement on October 18, 2022. In particular, he underlined issues related to the security of EU citizens and joint support for Ukraine, energy security, climate transition and the need to increase the competitiveness and resilience of the European Single Market.

Prime Minister Kristersson published the priorities and work program of the Swedish Presidency on 14 December 2022. The priorities and work program reflect Sweden's traditional positions in the EU, while responding to the current economic and geopolitical challenges facing the Union.

Sweden, located in Scandinavia, a sub-region of Northern Europe with its strong historical, cultural and linguistic ties among the peoples that make up it, became an EU member on January 1, 1995. Sweden, which joined the Schengen Area on 25 March 2001, did not enter the Euro Area after the majority of the Swedish people said "no" in the referendum held in 2003.

Sweden, which has a unitary state structure, has 20 cities and Stockholm is the capital of the country. The Rikstag, with 349 members, holds the legislative power of Sweden, and the country is governed by a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy.

Although Sweden hosts a very small population of 10.5 million; It is known as a powerful and important country with the feature of being the fifth largest country in Europe, the third largest in the EU and the largest in Scandinavia.

While a study from 2021 revealed that nearly one-fifth of Sweden's population has an immigrant background, immigration is seen as a major source of population growth throughout Sweden's history. Although the official language is Swedish, Sweden has emerged as a multilingual country after the Minority Language Committee declared Finnish, Meänkieli, Romani, Sámi and Yiddish as official minority languages in 1999.

According to 2018 data, Christians constitute approximately 64.3% of the Swedish population, while those belonging to other religions and not belonging to any church constitute 33.5% of the population. This diversity in the country stems from the migration movements towards the country. When we look at the ethnic structures that make up the Swedish population, it is seen that approximately two million (19.6%) people living in the country were born in another country.

Looking at the Swedish economy; public, defense, education, health and social services, industry, wholesale and retail trade, transportation/transportation, tourism and food are important sectors. Sweden, which makes 52% of its exports and 68% of its imports from the European Single Market, benefits greatly from intra-EU trade. Ylva Johansson, appointed by Sweden, which currently has 21 members in the EP, has been serving as the Commissioner for Internal Affairs since 2019.

11th Tripartite Presidency

Sweden will carry out this task within the scope of its 11th Tripartite Presidency, which is formed together with France and the Czech Republic and consists of an 18-month period. In the Tripartite Program of the Tripartite Presidency announced in December 2021, the main axis will be composed of principles such as “protecting the freedoms of European citizens, establishing a new growth model on the axis of sustainable green growth and digital sovereignty, and protecting the health of the European peoples by building a green Europe”. had been disclosed. However, after the EU agenda was shaped by Ukraine's invasion of Russia in February 2022 and the security concerns and energy crisis in Europe, France and the Czech Republic focused on these concerns and crises in the priorities they published. This effect is clearly seen in the priorities and program of the Swedish Presidency, presented by Prime Minister Kristersson on 14 December 2022.

Sweden EU flags
Photo: Shutterstock

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