Debating EU enlargement – Sweden
Viking ship. Photo: Paul Moore/

ESI Manual: The Swedish EU enlargement debate (May 2009)

The Institutional Agenda

Carl Bildt has often pointed out how crowded the agenda is for the Swedish presidency – given the key institutional issues that have to be resolved and the fact that the Lisbon Treaty is still not in place:

  • A new Lisbon Treaty? As three Member States have yet to formally ratify the Lisbon Treaty. Sweden is preparing to conduct its EU presidency with the current Nice Treaty in place. The Lisbon Treaty could enter into force during – or immediately after – its presidency.
  • The newly elected Parliament: Sweden begins its presidency with the newly elected European Parliament that will first focus on internal issues; forming new committees and holding hearings for a new European Commission.
  • The new European Commission: The current European Commission will remain in office until 31 October 2009. The new Commission must then be approved by a vote of both the European Parliament and the Council. Fewer proposals than usual are therefore expected from the Commission in the first half of Sweden’s presidency.
  • Short Presidency: The holidays in August and public holidays in December mean that, in practice, the presidency in the second half of the year is shorter than the first.

The Challenges

The packed agenda facing the Swedish EU Presidency was outlined by Carl Bildt in his Washington speech on May 5th 2009.

He said that Sweden hopes to make progress on EU institutional reforms if there is a “yes” in the Irish referendum in mid-October: Much of Sweden’s presidency will be devoted to overseeing the institutional changes the Lisbon Treaty makes.

“It is my sincere hope that we will be the end of an historical era – in the sense that we would get the Lisbon Treaty ratified.”

Implementing the Lisbon Treaty:

  • “The Lisbon treaty – in terms of justice and home affairs, is another step of integration…we hope we can take some not insubstantial further steps in that particular area”. “Foreign and security affairs; to have a de facto European foreign minister (as EU high representative for foreign and security policy), and to have an elected president of the European Council, and to set up the European Action Service. By merging all of the activities of the Commission and of the Council, and then adding elements from the national diplomatic services; these are huge steps.”

Big issues on the EU agenda:

  • “The European Union has a big role to manoeuvre the world towards a global climate deal in Copenhagen in December 2009. That is going to consume a lot of political energy.”
  • “We have to manage the economy both in terms of the G-20 global context, in terms of internal European issues, and in terms of the financial political crisis management – that will consume a much larger percentage of our energies than people are aware of”.
  • “The single most important political process within Europe this year is the peace process in Cyprus. We have a President in Cyprus, Mr. Christofias; we have a leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mr. Talal – they are both personally committed to overcoming the division of their island…”


  • “Another of our main challenges is, of course, enlargement – the roughly 100 million people of Southeast Europe that are knocking on our door: the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey.”
  • Turkey: “I belong to those Europeans who agreed very much with President Obama, when he came to Europe and said that the strategic significance of Turkey joining the European Union is vast: it’s vast for the European Union; it is vast as a symbol of reconciliation, solving and overcoming old divisions; it sends a very powerful signal to the rest of the world. That being said we know that it’s not an entirely easy thing to do. The same applies to the countries of the Western Balkans.”
  • Croatia-Slovenia dispute: “We have on the table – very much supported by us and by the French and the Czechs – the trio – a compromise proposal by Commissioner Rehn which we think is constructive and good. It would allow resolution of the dispute, and it would allow, which is also very important, that we go on with the Croat accession negotiations. I welcome everyone supporting and adhering to the proposal of Commission Rehn. The accession of Croatia is of course important. It is important for Croatia but it is also important for the rest of the region.”

The following overview of contacts in the Swedish Parliament is part of a manual prepared by ESI within its “Communicating Europe” conference series project. Please download the full manual here.

The Parliament (Riksdag)
Tel: + 46 8 786 40 00

Textfeld: The Riksdag is the supreme decision-making body in Sweden. 349 MPs serve four years. Under the Swedish system it has considerable influence on government policy-making. The government cannot promote any EU policies without its support.<br /> support.Riksdag.

Per Westerberg (Moderate Party) has been the Speaker of the Riksdag since 2006. The Speaker directs the Riksdag’s work and presides over the meetings of the Chamber. He is assisted by three Deputy Speakers. The office of Speaker is the highest position to which a person may be elected in Sweden. Formally, the Speaker ranks in precedence after the King, but ahead of the Prime Minister. One of the main tasks of the Speaker is to lead negotiations on forming a new Government, and to present a proposal for a new Prime Minister.

More information on the Swedish Parliament is available at

Seven parties are represented in the Riksdag:

The Coalition since 2006:

Moderates (Moderata samlingspartiet) 97
Centre Party (Centerpartiet) 29
Christian Democrats (Kristdemokraterna) 24
Liberals (Folkpartiet liberalerna) 28
Total 178

Opposition parties:

Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterna) 130
Left Party (Vänsterpartiet) 22
Greens (Miljöpartiet de gröna) 19
Total 171

Parliamentary Committees

There are 15 standing committees in the Riksdag. Under the Swedish system they have considerable powers. Each committee is responsible for monitoring developments in the EU within its area of competence. The standing committees have been assigned a more active role in work with EU issues since Jan 2007. In addition, the EU Committee has a special consultative role. Ministers have to appear before the EU Committee before all meetings of the Council of Ministers. The 15 standing committees cover:

Civil Affairs, Constitution, Cultural Affairs, Defence., Education, Environment and Agriculture, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Health and Welfare, Industry and Trade, Justice, Labour Market, Social Insurance, Taxation and Transport and Communications.

More details on the committees’ work related to the EU are available on the Riksdagen’s website.

Details of Committee members are available on the Riksdagen’s website.

The Committee on Foreign Affairs (FAC)/Utrikesutskottet (UU)

Göran Lennmarker is the Chair. He is a Moderate Party MP and is well-known known as a staunch supporter of enlargement. His view is that: “A bigger EU is a better EU” and that “we have an obligation to receive mew members who share our ideas and meet our requirements.” He also chairs the Joint Committee on the Constitution and Foreign Affairs. Göran Lennmarker is also a deputy member of the EU Affairs Committee and a member of the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs. He is a member of the Swedish delegation to the OSCE. In January 2007, he headed the international election observation mission to observe Serbia’s parliamentary elections. He has been Special Representative for the South Caucasus for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. He is President Emeritus of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. The FAC has 17 members and 27 deputy members.

Tel: + 46 8 786 4602
Secretary: + 46 8 786 4568.

Pål Jonson is foreign policy adviser.

Tel: + 468 786 5608 / + 46 70 738 205 847          

Urban Ahlin, the foreign affairs spokesman of the Social Democratic Party, is the Deputy Chair of the FAC. He is also a member of the Joint Committee on the Constitution and Foreign Affairs, a deputy member of the EU Affairs Committee and a member of the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs. Like Göran Lennmarker, Urban Ahlin is a staunch advocate of EU enlargement. He wrote in 2006: “Today we also see a more peaceful Balkan region, with several Balkan states set on becoming EU members. The winds of change are still blowing across Europe.”

Tel: + 46 8 786 4723 / +46 70 530 4245       

The Secretary of the Committee is Thomas Hörberg.

Tel: +46 8 786 4284

More information on the Foreign Affairs Committee is available on the Riksdagen’s website.

The list of Committee members is available here:

The Committee on European Union Affairs

The Committee on European Union Affairs differs from the standing committees. It is a special consultative body. The Government must gain support for its EU policies in the Riksdag and is expected to pursue EU policies supported by a majority in the Riksdag. Before all meetings of the EU Council of Ministers, the Government must first receive support in the Committee on EU Affairs for the positions it intends to take. The Government is expected to observe the positions agreed with the Committee on EU Affairs, which may be regarded as a sort of mandate. Should it fail to do so, the Government risks criticism from the Riksdag and ultimately a vote of no confidence.

Unlike the parliamentary committees, the Committee on EU Affairs does not present any proposals for decision by the Riksdag.

The Committee, which has 17 members and 41 deputy members, is chaired by Anna Kinberg Batra, a Moderate Party MP. She has worked as an adviser for senior Moderate party leaders, and she has also run her own communications company. Before the elections in 2006, she was the Vice President for PR and Communications at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.

Tel: + 46 8 786 4458

The Deputy Chair is Susanne Eberstein, a Social Democrat.

Tel: +46 8 786 4303 / + 46 70 252 6690

The Committee Secretary is Jan Olsson

Tel: +46 8 78 64 305

Margareta Hjort is the Deputy Secretary and the adviser on relations with the European Council and GAERC – well placed and willing to answer external questions on Parliament’s work on EU issues.

Tel: + 46 8 786 4878

More information on the Committee on European Union Affairs is available here.

The list of Committee members is available here.

Chamber Officials in the Parliament working on the EU

Charlotte Rydell is the Assistant Chamber Secretary for EU issues.

Tel: + 46 8 786 4885

Bengt Olsson is the Riksdag’s representative to the EU Institutions, based in Brussels.

Tel: + 32 47 383 5793

Friendship Committees:

The three separate Committees on Austria, Hungary and on BiH are chaired by Walburga Habsburg Douglas, an active Moderate MP and a German-Swedish jurist and ex- journalist. She is daughter of Otto von Habsburg and her (unused) formal title is the Archduchess Walburga of Austria. She has a reputation for informality. As Secretary General of the Paneuropean Union she was one of the organisers of the now famous “Paneuropa-Picknick” on 19 August 1989 at the Austrian-Hungarian frontier – then part of the Iron Curtain. The border was then opened – the first historic breach of the Iron Curtain – allowing more than 660 East Germans from the GDR to pass through.

Tel: + 468 786 4619 / + 46 70 244 2477

The Committee on Serbia is chaired by Jan R Andersson , also a Moderate.

Tel: + 468 786 5006 / +46 70 248 9099

There are two committees covering Turkey. The friendship committee is chaired by Göran Lindblad.

Tel: +46 8 786 5896

The deputy chair is the Social Democrats’ new Secretary General Yilmaz Kerimo, a Turkish Assyrian by birth.

Yilmaz Kerimo

Tel. +46 8 786 5478

Or contact via the Social Democratic party headquarters.

Rosita Runegrund chairs the committee focusing on human rights in Turkey (SSKT).

Tel: +46 8 786 4735 / +46 70 343 9768

Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs

The Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs prepares foreign policy decisions before a decision on the matter is taken by the Riksdag. The Advisory Council is a consultative body between the Government and the Riksdag. The Council consists of the Speaker Per Westerberg and 18 members of the Riksdag. It is chaired by the King of Sweden.

More information on the Advisory Council members is available on the Riksdagen’s website.

The Priority on Enlargement in the 2009 Foreign Policy Statement

The Riksdag holds a foreign policy debate each February. The debate opens with a presentation of the Statement of Government Policy on Foreign Affairs by the Foreign Minister, in which s/he sets out the foreign policy to be pursued by Sweden in the coming year. A debate follows in which the parties in the Riksdag present their views on Sweden’s foreign policy.

The 2009 Statement of Foreign Policy by Carl Bildt was geared towards the Swedish Presidency in the second half of 2009.

Full contents of the Sweden Manual:



















The Prime Minister’s Office


The Cabinet


European Policy-making: The Foreign Ministry (MFA)


Departments relevant to the Western Balkans – and their functions






The Parliament (Riksdag)


The Political Parties
















ESI Manual: The Swedish EU enlargement debate (May 2009)

4 June 2009