The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Sweden – More than just Vikings and an Eu State


Sweden has a long and colourful history founded in the 12th Century. It joined the EU on 1 January 1995. Beyond the era of the Vikings (800-1066), it has traded continuously with Denmark, Germany and Norway. Throughout its history Sweden has seen domestic uprisings such as when Valdemar was defeated by Magnus in 1275. In 1814 Norway and Sweden formed a union that ended in 1905. Since 1905 Sweden has maintained a neutral position in war. However, as a member of the United Nations it has often provided peacekeepers and observers beginning such a provision in 1948.i Consequently, Sweden's defence, foreign and security policies are linked directly to membership of the United Nations and the European Union.


Since the 1990's Sweden adheres to a policy of "only under UN Security Council mandate or authorization"ii for deploying troops. It will be interesting to see how Swedes adapt to the emerging EU Army as proclaimed by Donald Tusk and others in 2017. The emergence of the EU wide army may provide some nations with much needed security, but in the case of countries like Sweden it will undoubtedly put them on a war-footing where historically they have remained neutral. It appears as if little insight has been given in this redirection of their defence and military policy by the central powers in Brussels.


As a member of PESCOiii Sweden will be part of the defence framework for the EU. It is therefore unavoidable that at some point it will be put in a position whereby it will no longer be a passive or unaligned force. Det blir som det blir as the Swedish would say.iv The EU lacked a military force as such before the 23 leaders signed up to PESCO in November 2017. Many of the signatories have had active military records entering wars and military campaigns at great cost.


PESCO is meant to reduce military spending for those who actively participate. Presumably this includes Sweden. Yet, what PESCO highlights is a drastic change in direction for Swedish policymakers and strategists. According to official explanations PESCO goes beyond mere military engagement embracing counter-cyberattack teams and mine detecting projects at sea. This shift is principally to adapt to the changes in technology and communications in the 21st Century. Consequently, Sweden it could be argued has become active in hybrid warfare.


Moving from a historical role of diplomacy to crisis response and what is essentially a new defence pact in the form of PESCO, Sweden may be wary of breaking with the strong convictions that declined NATO and Eurozone membership. Only time will tell if this has been the correct decision for a country whose citizens enjoy the 11th highest per capita income in the world. Neutrality had ensured Sweden longevity. It is difficult to anticipate how this Nordic nation will cope with the emerging demands that the EU has placed on it. However, Sweden is more than just Vikings and an EU state.



ihttp://www.government.se/government-of-sweden/ministry-for-foreign-affairs/sweden-for-the-un-security-council-2017-2018/sweden-and-the-un.-we-build-peace/
 iihttp://www.providingforpeacekeeping.org/2014/04/03/contributor-profile-sweden/
 iiihttp://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/12/11/defence-cooperation-pesco-25-member-states-participating/
iv It will be as it will be

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Saturday, 20 January 2018