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Swedish Presidency of the EU Council guide

Public Affairs
Swedish Presidency of the EU Council guide

The new Swedish government took over the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 January 2023. That means that Swedish ministers will lead negotiations in the EU’s highest governing body and try to find a compromise with the European Parliament on key legislative proposals. Instinctif Partners has developed the following short guide to the EU2023SE, which sets out the priorities that the Swedish presidency will be addressing in the coming months.

On the 14th of December Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (EPP) presented the presidency’s agenda, which unlike the Czech agenda will not only be crisis management (they hope!). The government will have to deal with a disproportionate number of legislative initiatives still to be put on the table considering the delays due to the war in Ukraine and the approaching 2024 deadline for the next European elections and the final full year of this European Commission.  

A major source of concern in recent weeks is the governing minority of far-right Sweden Democrats, who still deny the severity of the climate crisis and water down EU climate ambitions and targets.

Certainly, the government’s top priority will be to ensure the EU’s continued political, economic, military and humanitarian support for Ukraine. But Sweden will also have to grapple with soaring inflation and the need to ensure a robust energy supply. A second focus of the presidency will be the private sector, aiming to boost innovation and strengthen the EU’s competitiveness. According to Swedish leaders, the EU should reduce the regulatory burden on companies and allocate more resources to research and skills development. The 30-year anniversary of the Single Market will act as grounds to address weaknesses in the supply chain by seeking new trade agreements with partner third countries.

Finally, the government intends to promote the conditionality of EU funds to the principle of the rule of law and fundamental rights, a debate fuelled in recent weeks by Hungary.

The Swedish presidency’s four key priority areas are:

1. Security – unity

The Swedish Presidency will also support other initiatives to strengthen the EU’s capabilities, including the implementation of the EU Strategic Compass. Regarding internal security, the government emphasises the fight against cross-border organised crime.

2. Resilience – competitiveness

The Swedish Presidency will work to provide the best possible conditions for an open economy based on free competition, digitalisation, and private investment.

3. Prosperity – green & energy transition

The government wants to accelerate the energy transition in an ongoing attempt to tackle high and volatile energy prices and address long-term energy market reform. 

4. Democratic values and the rule of law – our foundation

The Swedish Presidency intends to actively uphold the principle of the rule of law and fundamental rights when it comes to the disbursement of EU funds.

Expectations for the Swedish Presidency in Brussels have certainly been influenced by the last domestic elections. It will have to be assessed how Sweden will balance its national priorities with the reality of war on European soil.

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