Swedish issues: ENP, Eastern Partnership and enlargement

Sweden
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
 
Sweden has since long advocated the importance of good neighbourly relations as well as the need to give the perspective of enlargement also to European countries outside the Balkans. The Polish-Swedish proposal for Eastern Partnership is based on the view that a new impetus is needed in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). It concerns the 27 EU member states and six ENP countries: Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Belarus. (With Belarus, cooperation would take place if and when conditions allow.) Projects within this framework can also be extended to Russia.[1]
 
It has been stressed by the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt that the idea behind the Eastern Partnership is not to be an alternative to continued enlargement of the EU but rather the opposite, one way towards an eventual one.[2] The plan is to offer a deepened bilateral cooperation with the six partner countries, starting with Ukraine, in which visa-free travel, free trade, and people-to-people-contact are important parts. The principle of differentiation among the partner countries is a key element and countries would thus integrate according to ambition and performance.[3] The proposal has resulted in a report of the European Commission, delivered on 3 December, which is supported by Sweden. The Swedish ambition is that during the autumn of 2009, Ukraine will have an association agreement with the EU.[4]
 
Since Sweden is well known for its support for enlargement, there are great expectations among a number of countries that the enlargement process will take steps forward during the Swedish Presidency. Prime Minister Reinfeldt, is aware of the strong resistance against enlargement among some EU member states. The fact that France and Germany have declared that the Lisbon Treaty is a precondition for Croatia’s accession is deplored.[5]
There is also a particular problem for Croatia in that the reform process has not been as fast as expected. The Commission has reported on the lack of reforms of the judicial apparatus as well as administrative capacity in regard to privatisation of certain governmental sectors, including wharfs, certain tax issues and also the fight against corruption. In addition, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Serge Brammertz, has reported on the lack of will to hand over material regarding former general Gotovina. Sweden is willing to do what it can to help Croatia to finish its negotiations by autumn 2009 but in order to accomplish this, Croatia must do its part.[6]
 
As regards to Turkey, the Swedish policy has i.a. been to make sure that the word ‘admission’ is included in the documents. Considering that a number of demands are made on Turkey, this is seen as reasonable. However, also for Turkey, there are reasons to be critical regarding the speed of the reform process.[7]
 
Among the Swedish, public enlargement is generally seen as positive: 40 percent see it as positive for Swedish peace and security (whereas 21 percent see it as negative, 21 percent see it as having no importance and 18 percent have no view).[8]




[1] Polish-Swedish Proposal, Eastern Partnership, 23 May 2008, available at: http://www.tepsa.eu/docs/draft_proposal_eastern_partnership.pdf (last access: 25 January 2009).


[2] Dagens Nyheter: Swedish Initiative Aimed to Strengthen Links EU-Eastern Europe, 23 May 2008.


[3] See Polish-Swedish Proposal, Eastern Partnership, 23 May 2008, available at: http://www.tepsa.eu/docs/draft_proposal_eastern_partnership.pdf (last access: 25 January 2009).


[4] Frank Belfrage, state secretary for foreign affairs, in: Committee on European Union Affairs of the Swedish parliament: Stenografiska uppteckningar vid EU-nämndens sammanträden, 5 December 2008, pp. 23-24, available at: http://www.riksdagen.se/webbnav/?nid=3751&doktyp=eunprot&rm=2008/09&bet=... (last access: 25 January 2009).


[5] Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister, in: Committee on European Union Affairs of the Swedish parliament: Stenografiska uppteckningar vid EU-nämndens sammanträden, 10 December 2008, p. 7, available at: http://www.riksdagen.se/webbnav/?nid=3751&doktyp=eunprot&rm=2008/09&bet=... (last access: 25 January 2009).


[6] Frank Belfrage, state secretary for foreign affairs, in: Committee on European Union Affairs of the Swedish parliament: Stenografiska uppteckningar vid EU-nämndens sammanträden, 5 December 2008, pp. 25-26, available at: http://www.riksdagen.se/webbnav/?nid=3751&doktyp=eunprot&rm=2008/09&bet=... (last access: 25 January 2009).


[7] Ibid., pp. 26-27.


[8] Göran Stütz (ed.): Opinion 2008, Om den svenska allmänhetens syn på samhället, säkerhetspolitiken och försvaret [Opinion 2008, Swedes’ Views on Society, Security Policy and National Defence], data collection: 25 August-13 October 2008, Styrelsen för psykologiskt försvar [The National Board of Psychological Defence], 2008, p. 55.