The Sweden Democrats say they want more veto power over EU laws.
Vetoes should be used to obtain concessions and exemptions for Sweden and to restrict further transfers of sovereignty to Brussels, the rightwing party says.
EU membership is beginning to look “like a straitjacket”, according to their party leader.
Other EU countries will decide on Swedish policy without taking into account the wishes of Swedes themselves, the party fears.
The Brussels Signal asked Charlie Weimers, a Euro MP for the Sweden Democrats, for clarification following an editorial by party leader Jimmie Åkesson earlier this week that was highly critical of the European Union.
Åkesson used the “straitjacket” metaphor in an op-ed in Swedish news media Aftonbladet. As far as the EU was concerned, he wrote that his country need to “change course”.
Weimers said his party demands a more combative and proactive EU approach from the Swedish Government. “We will push for the veto to be used to secure concessions and opt-outs and for legislation to be enacted in Swedish law that structurally limits the transfer of powers to Brussels,” he said.
“By way of a public debate, the Sweden Democrats seek an evaluation of Sweden’s EU membership with the goal of maximising Sweden’s benefits and minimising the negative aspects of membership. We want to break with three decades of bad negotiated outcomes. This should not be controversial.”
Regarding a possible ‘Swexit’, Weimers was nuanced. “We cannot predict the results of any independent evaluation, nor the impact or outcome of a thorough public debate. Currently, most Swedes support membership, but the same polls show an overwhelming majority rejecting more transfers of power from Member States to Brussels. The same goes for further fiscal integration, EU taxes, and many other proposals in the Brussels pipeline.”
Weimers said these political goals are not new. “The Moderates [a centre-right party] promised to maximise Swedish influence more than a decade ago in their 2009 EU election campaign. We simply offer a strategy that actually delivers the better outcomes they promised. We are willing to deliver both the strategic and legislative changes that other parties know are necessary but are too anxious to implement, for example [by] using veto power to extract concessions and limit transfers of power by introducing a referendum lock.”
The European Commission seeks to increase its power and influence over the EU and will never propose repatriating powers to Member States, according to Weimers. He is convinced that a strong result for critics of political integration in the upcoming EU elections would signal to governments that the current division of competencies between the Member States and the EU lacks public support and that further transfers of power are unacceptable.
“Socialists of all parties have a built-in advantage, as they can ally with a Commission that seeks to grow the influence and power of the EU,” he said. “Limited government will never be popular with the ‘Good Europeans’ in Brussels with dreams of a supranational progressive utopia.”
"Maktförskjutningen från Sverige till Bryssel pågår ständigt.
Det finns i dag stora anledningar att på riktigt utvärdera vårt medlemskap i unionen."
— Tobias Andersson (@SDTobbe) May 2, 2023
The Sweden Democrats secured more than 20% in the last elections and became the largest right-wing party in the country. They prop up the government in parliament and used their weight to cut taxes on fuel and reject mandatory quotas for migrants. Now they have turned their attention to the role of the EU in Sweden.
Jimmie Åkesson wrote that he believed the time had come to “properly evaluate” membership of the Union. He admitted his party has always been fundamentally sceptical about the EU, but in recent years has adopted a more constructive approach to membership.
This “realist” approach is based on the belief that the EU’s core mission should focus on commercial cooperation among Member States. If this shift is achieved, the Sweden Democrats hope the new direction would be beneficial to Sweden. “Ominously, things are moving in the wrong direction”, Åkesson wrote in his op-ed.
In a related interview this week, the leader of the Sweden Democrats predicted Sweden would have to “fight” the EU.