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Jimmy Åkesson. Wikipedia

Is a Swexit on the cards for Sweden?

The leader of the Swedish Democrats, Jimmy Åkesson has again called for a referendum on Sweden's exit from the EU.

Published: August 16, 2018, 3:58 pm

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    “The EU is not the right way to cooperate in Europe,” Åkesson told the P1 channel in an interview. One must “renegotiate the conditions of EU membership and then people should vote on it”.

    Last month, the party’s economic spokesman, Oscar Sjöstedt, emphasised that leaving Sweden would not become an issue for possible coalition talks with other parties after the September 9 election.

    The party’s view is that important issues such as EU membership or joining NATO should be settled by a referendum. “It’s an issue that’s of a dignity and magnitude that it needs to be dealt with in a referendum,” Sjöstedt said. “Then you automatically take it out from government formation, as you turn it into an issue for a referendum.”

    He suggested that there should be limits on the free movement of people. “We need free movement of services, goods and capital, but for people it’s a bit more complex because there’s begging and crime,” Sjöstedt said.

    Most recently, two MEPs from the party posted their views on the news portal, in which they spoke out in favor of leaving the EU.

    “The Swedish Democrats want to leave the European Union,” wrote Kristina Winberg and Peter Lundgren in the article. The party accepted “no unelected EU Commission, which can walk over the Member States together with the Court and the Parliament, even if these say ‘no’ the whole time”.

    That is why the Swedes should be allowed to vote on the “supranational Union which the European Union has become”. Also, the EU has not delivered on what had been promised to the Swedes in 1994. At the time, 52.3 percent of Swedes voted in favor of joining the EU one year later.

    “We would rather see a significantly reformed European Union which focuses only on business and the free movement of goods, services and capital, but not people,” they wrote. “The Swedish people should finally take a position on the supranational union which the European Union has become in reality, and not that which the people were sold in 1994.”

    But support for a “Swexit” referendum on Sweden’s EU membership has little backing among the public. Polls show full support for the EU above 50 percent, but the number of Swedes who actually advocate leaving is below 20 percent, Bloomberg reported.

    Talks of leaving the EU spooked the currency markets this week. Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson blamed EU critics, saying the future of such negotiations would “depend completely on what influence the Sweden Democrats are given over a government formation”.

    “The big concern isn’t if there was to be a referendum, the big worry is that we have a large party that wants Sweden to leave the EU, without mentioning the enormous economic consequences that would have for Sweden,” she said.

    “To leave the EU, stop paying and still have access to the single market, that will never happen,” she added.

    In Åkesson’s interview, he also addressed climate change, saying that while he recognised that climate change was a real problem, he did not believe investing in cleaning up energy production in poor countries would solve the problem.

    The notion of leaving the EU is of course not new. There have been rumours of a Nexit, Huxit, Czexit, Italeave, Departugal, and Frexit.

    In February, Dutch daily De Telegraaf published an article that was highly critical of the functioning of the EU.

    The article noted the important facts about the misconduct of Brussels bureaucrats, and how they were simply wasting money.

    One example was “the frequent trips between Brussels and Strasbourg by the European Parliament”. This “insanity” costs the European taxpayer 114 million euros every year, the daily noted.

    While the significance of trips to Strasbourg is rather symbolic, the real problem is that the bulk of the money is spent on two things: agriculture and the so-called cohesion fund. The latter money is meant for regional development and this is mainly for poorer member states. About 35 percent of the multi-year budget, 370 billion euros, will be spent on “cohesion” in a subsequent seven-year period if nothing changes. Agriculture takes 400 billion euros from the EU budget, accounting for 37 percent

    Geert Wilders noted on Twitter that the only real answer to this problem would be a Nexit.

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