Sweden's Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell speaks to the press prior to a gathering of European Trade Ministers in the EU Council in Brussels, Belgium, 25 May 2023. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER MATTHYS


Sweden to make aid conditional, ‘not a human right’


Sweden’s minority Government, supported by the Sweden Democrats (SD), is coupling their foreign aid programmes to the willingness of countries to readmit their citizens deported from Sweden.

In a press conference on December 14, the ministers responsible laid out their plans regarding foreign aid in which it will be conditional upon the recipient states taking back their own citizens.

Countries that do not co-operate with Sweden in terms of fighting corruption or ensuring democratic development will be phased out of receiving aid funds, ministers said.

Bilateral development aid would be limited to 30 countries, six fewer than before.

The share of aid through core support to multilateral organisations will be also limited while the proportion of aid via civil society will increase.

Fighting poverty through trade, education, and job creation – or, as the Government put it, via “sustainable growth” – is another top priority in its reform agenda.

Freedom of religion will be promoted, including the right to freedom from secular law and enforcement, and the rights of religious minorities.

“We ensure that Swedish taxpayers’ money always achieves the best possible results,” claimed Johan Forssell, Minister for International Development Co-operation and Foreign Trade, of the centre-right Moderate Party.

In an interview with Danish online news portal Altinget, Forssell said: “I would like to point out that it is Sweden that decides which countries we want to cooperate with. It is not a human right to receive Swedish development aid.

“If it is to be achieved, it is based on an expectation that the countries will want to cooperate with Sweden.”

The Government called its new reform agenda for aid policy “Aid for a new era” and described it as “a historic shift”.

According to Aron Emilsson, foreign affairs spokesman for the right-wing Sweden Democrats, it is not reasonable for aid to be paid to states that stand against Swedish interests.

A new condition for aid is set to pledge support to the rules-based international order, meaning aid-receiving countries can no longer support Russia as it is fighting in Ukraine.