Sweden will assume the rotating presidency of the EU in January 2023 and in July of that year Spain will take over. Its Minister for European Affairs, Hans Dahlgren (Upsala, 73 years old), has been visiting Madrid this Monday to begin coordinating agendas and policies with his Spanish foreign colleagues “so that the work is as efficient as possible for the citizens” , he emphasizes. Before that Sweden will hold general elections, which may end up altering the agenda for the semester, but Dahlgren hints at his optimism about the elections and more after the victory of the SPD in Germany.
“Of course I think that the Social Democracy has returned with more force. Recent results in Norway have gone in that direction and now all the Nordic countries – Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden – have a Social Democratic Prime Minister. As a Social Democrat, and although it is going to be a difficult negotiation, I hope that Olaf Scholz will join as the next chancellor in Germany. He has achieved a fantastic comeback in these four years and I think that this is a strong and favorable wind in our favor, ”he says with evident joy.
Dahlgren is less optimistic about the relationship between the European Union and the United States. “The new president [Joe Biden] it is more favorable to cooperation with Europe and we agree on many international cooperation issues such as climate change or relations with Iran ”, admits the minister. “But we must not fool ourselves, he is representing the interests of the United States and when he defends America first, it sounds very similar to the commercial policy of [Donald] Trump”.
Sweden has expressed its rejection – “although we are willing to collaborate” – to a Defense Europe that implies the creation of a European Army, as pointed out by the high representative for EU Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell. Along the same lines, he disagrees with the proposal of the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to move towards the strategic independence of the EU. “We do not believe that the best way to protect our security and our interests is to isolate ourselves from the world. In fact, what we believe is that we must bet on open strategic independence, in the style of cooperation to develop the covid-19 vaccine ″, which involved up to 28 countries for its development.
What the Stockholm Government has been very belligerent with is with respect to the rule of law, which countries such as Hungary and Poland have challenged with their decisions against judicial independence and the ultimate authority of the European Court of Justice over national legislation. But not to the point of forcing them to leave the Union – “the discrepancy is with some decisions or political measures not with a country, both are European countries and belong to the Union” -, although it is in the form of fines and limited access to European funds.
In any case, Hans Dahlgren believes that these tensions provide an important lesson for when the EU considers an enlargement, which it does not see in the near future. “We must be absolutely sure that when new countries enter the EU, they not only commit to values at the time of accession, but that respect for values is maintained over time.”
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