Swedish issues: ENP, Eastern Partnership and enlargement

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=13&dok_id=GW0A13 (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=14&dok_id=GW0A14 (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=13&dok_id=GW0A13 (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.