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Oct 232009

Do you know what Sweden and Finland have in common with Azerbaijan, Congo, Lichtenstein, Monaco and Tajikistan? Perhaps quite a lot but they are also members of the exclusive group of 22 countries which have paid their UN contributions in full. Among other EU countries only Austria and Germany belong to this group. (From AP via UN Wire).

A big shame on the others!

A large part of the UN Budget is spent on special political missions, requested and mandated by the Security Council. (This does not include peacekeeping operations). Not a single one of the permanent members have paid up in full.

In another development, to use newsspeak, 5 members of the so called “Nordic Council” have written an article in EU Observer  under the heading “Closer Nordic partnership needed within the EU.” The authors stress that the Nordic cooperation was developed and functioning well long before the EEC and are worried that the wider EU-cooperation would lead (or have already led) to “unnecessary bureaucratic barriers between the Nordic countries and detracts from citizens’ and businesses’ freedom of movement.” Continue reading »

Nov 212008

Against our expectations the Parliament approved the proposal to ratify the Treaty with 243 yes, 39 against, 13 abstentions and 54 absent (!). We will come back to some very interesting results of the voting. (For Swedish speaking readers information on the voting of the individual parliamentarians is available here. Point 9, click on “Visa ledamöternas röster”.) There will be reasons for coming back to this, for the moment we only note that those members of the government parties who had announced their opposition to the proposal apparently lost their courage since only one of them actually voted “no” whereas others abstained or were conveniently absent. With a somewhat wry smile we note that Marita Ulvskog, designated top Continue reading »

Nov 182008

Tomorrow (19/11) On Thursday (20/11) the Swedish Parliament will vote on the Treaty of Lisbon. In our previous post we have expressed some doubt as to the outcome, everyone else, however, seems to regard the approval as a foregone conclusion.

We have seen many articles and blog posts lately about how the financial crisis tends to rally countries -members or not- to the EU and the Euro.  Ironically, in cases such as Poland, Hungary, Lithuania and Iceland this comes at a time when they are further from meeting the criteria of eligibility to the Eurozone than in a long time. Leading Austrian newspaper Die Presse carries an article with a heading that can be translated as The Crisis Forces Sceptics to the EU (DE). According to the article, Ireland may say “yes” in a new referendum provided they are guaranteed a Commissioner. Iceland, still according to Die Presse, will apply for membership in 2009 with the aim of becoming a member in 2011. The Danish Premier has Continue reading »

Nov 142008

Sweden is one of the very few countries which have not yet ratified the Treaty of Lisbon. It is debatable how many there are with Poland’s obstructing -but basically powerless- President and the decision of the German Constitutional Court still outstanding. But it seems reasonable to conclude that Sweden and the Czech Republic are the only real laggards – Ireland obviously always excepted. Unfortunately those are also the two countries that will assume the EU Presidency in 2009. Difficulties are compounded by the fact that neither country belongs to the Eurozone.

Normally the Swedish Parliament would vote on the Treaty on November 20. The Treaty has already been approved by the Foreign Policy Committee.  On paper, there would be a solid majority with the four Government parties and the Social Democratic opposition in favor of the ratification. However, things are not that simple, by far  (SW).

First, 41 members of the Green and the Left Party will vote against ratification. In addition a  mini-rebellion has broken Continue reading »

May 062008

The Lone Star

The site Europa-Nytt, which has rapidly developed into the best and quickest Swedish source for day-to-day news from or concerning the EU, draws our attention to the Swedish celebration of the Europe Day on May 9. The heading reads (SW): “Sweden celebrates Europe without troublesome Europeans.” And indeed, when we look at the official program for the celebrations we notice that the ambitious seminar program announces 32 speakers of which 1 (one) non-Swedish, namely Danish Agricultural Commissioneer Mariann Fischer Boel.  We note the title of one of the seminars: “How do we create conditions for growth, jobs and regional development in Europe?” Another seminar will discuss the Euro and participants are explicitly admonished to stick to the issue, whatever that might mean.

The logo, which we file-share above, says perhaps much more than any comments that we might make.

Mar 242008

Dagens Nyheter reports from the Emigration Fair (Emigratiebeurs) in Utrecht, the Netherlands, that 38 % of the Dutch population wants to move away from  ”urban congestion” and “racism” and, not the least, “traffic jams”. The Northern countries appear to be at the top of the wish list of the prospective emigrants. The interest and participation in the fair increases from year to year and a large number of Swedish towns and municipalities are present, mainly from rural and peripheral areas with decreasing population. Obviously, the immigration of well behaved and highly educated people with good knowledge of languages is a highly attractive perspective in contrast to…well, let’s leave that for the moment. Several municipalities also report very succesfull results, with the Dutch immigrants setting up enterprises (very often camping sites!), thus creating employment and the possibility to keep otherwise threatened schools and small shops alive.

Statistics show that 58 % of people interested in leaving  Holland would prefer to move to another EU country. Out of  15 countries, the four Scandinavian ones are at the top whereas Austria takes the 10th place. Sweden appears prominently, Continue reading »

Feb 272008

On Feb 5 this year we wrote about the Swedish and European Green parties and expressed our view that the former would never change their anti-EU stance:

In a time where environmental and climate issues are high on the international agenda the Swedish Greens – in contrast to their European sister parties- are rapidly marginalizing themselves into an insignificant sect

To our great astonishment we read today in Dagen Nyheter (SW) that one of the two spokespersons of the Green Party (well, they are chairpersons really but like to call themselves ‘spokespersons’) has changed her attitude: “Our reasons for being against membership are still relevant in my opinion but there are now additional arguments speaking for membership. Those reasons have to do with the climate issue and with the enlargment of EU that has taken  place in later years” (our Continue reading »

Feb 142008

The unilateral declaration of independence in Kosovo is generally expected for the coming weekend or maybe Monday 18. The positions of Serbia and Russia are, of course, well-known. Even if Serbia has declared that war is not an option,  it is of course conceivable that Albanian violence against Serb minorities may result in armed protective action from Belgrade. Serbia has also declared that the EU “police force” -to which Sweden contributes 100 persons- will be regarded as invaders.

As is well known, the EU has not been able to agree on a united policy towards Kosovo. A group of countries with the UK, Germany and France in the lead will immediately recognize the independence.  Romania, Slovaka and Cyprus will not recognize Kosovo. Spain, the Czech Republic and Greece are unwilling to recognize Kosovo’s independence but may eventually do so. Continue reading »