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EUROPEAN UNION

Swexit, nej tack! Most Swedes would vote ‘remain’: survey

Swedes are among the happiest in the EU with their country's membership of the union, according to a new Eurobarometer poll on behalf of the European Parliament.

Swexit, nej tack! Most Swedes would vote 'remain': survey
Swedes give the red light to leaving the EU. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

A total of 77 percent of Swedish respondents believe EU membership is a good thing, an increase of nine percentage points over the past six months and Sweden's highest recorded level since 2007, according to the survey. Only seven percent said it was a bad thing and 16 percent described it as “neither good nor bad”.

Two thirds of Swedes (63 percent) told the survey they are against joining the European economic and monetary union with one single currency. Sweden voted against adopting the euro with 56 percent no votes to 42 percent yes votes in a national non-binding referendum in 2003.

If a referendum was held tomorrow regarding Sweden's membership of the EU, 83 percent said they would vote to remain and ten percent said they would vote in favour of a Swexit.

Support for remaining is only stronger in Luxembourg and Ireland (85 percent), and Sweden scored significantly higher than the EU on average (66 percent remain, 17 percent leave). Notably, in the UK, currently preparing for Brexit, 53 percent said they would vote remain if a referendum was held today, compared to 35 percent who would vote leave.

Swedish respondents also appear to be content with the level of democracy in the EU (61 percent said they are satisfied with European democracy) with 90 percent saying they believe that their vote counts.

Election Q&A: Where do the Swedish parties stand on Swexit?

A total of 48 percent said however that the EU is “going in the wrong direction”, despite Sweden showing an extraordinary increase in a positive direction when it came to almost all other indicators in the survey.

Pollsters also asked EU residents which areas they consider as threats. Climate change is the top threat for Swedes (62 percent) as well as the Danes and Dutch, compared to terrorism in the UK and France, poverty and social exclusion in Greece, and illegal immigration in Malta, the Czech Republic, Italy and Greece.

A total of 44 percent of Swedes cited organized crime as a threat that they wanted the EU to protect them against, 43 percent cited poverty and exclusion, 42 percent terrorism, 34 percent political extremism, 32 percent religious radicalism, 30 percent armed conflict, 24 percent fake news and disinformation online, 19 percent illegal immigration, 15 percent unemployment and 10 percent cited abuse of personal data online.

The figures are the result of face-to-face interviews with 27,474 EU citizens aged above 15, carried out between September 8th and 26th, at the time of Sweden's general election on September 9th.

Read the full Eurobarometer report HERE.

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BREXIT

Commission official: ‘Up to Sweden how strict it is on Brexit applications’

An official from the European Commission has defended its decision not to take action on Sweden's strict treatment of late applications for post-Brexit residency, arguing that it is up to member states how to apply the Withdrawal Agreement.

Commission official: 'Up to Sweden how strict it is on Brexit applications'

In an email sent to The Local, the official confirmed the latest data, published at the end of last year, which showed that 22 percent of residence applications from UK nationals under the Withdrawal Agreement had not been successful in Sweden. The official said this was similar to the rejection rate for Swedish citizens’ applications in the UK. 

“Through its regular monitoring in Annual reports under Article 159(2) of the Withdrawal Agreement, the European Commission is aware of the fact that Sweden has a high rate of refusal of residence applications under Article 18(1) of the Withdrawal Agreement,” the official said. 

But they said that this in itself did not indicate that Sweden was failing to apply the UK Withdrawal Agreement correctly. 

“As long as there is no indication that a Member State in question is incorrectly applying the Withdrawal Agreement rules, it is not for the Commission to tell Member States how strict or lenient they should be when processing late applications,” the Commission official said.

READ ALSO: Brits in Sweden still in limbo years after Brexit deadline

Two EU lawyers The Local spoke to earlier this summer said that they believed that the Swedish Migration Agency had not been correctly applying the proportionality test to late applications, and had been too narrow in its interpretation of what constitutes “reasonable grounds” for a late application.

They also said that they believed the Migration Agency had been overly strict on what level of employment or savings UK citizens were required to have to qualify as resident in Sweden under EU law, and to therefore be qualified for post-Brexit residency.

SEE MORE: Why did Sweden reject Brits for post-Brexit residency

But the Commission official said that when it came to the late applications at least, Sweden was entitled to take the position it had done. 

“If the host State authorities reach the conclusion that a late applicant did not have reasonable grounds for missing the application deadline, they do not have to deal with the application on substance,” the official said.

“This means that someone who would have qualified for the residence rights under the Withdrawal Agreement might not be granted those rights if they missed the application deadline and did not have a valid reason for doing so.” 

READ ALSO: Is Sweden getting EU law wrong on Brexit cases? 

An unusual high rejection rate, the official continued, did not mean that Sweden was breaking the terms of the EU Withdrawal agreement. 

“The fact that there are negative decisions being taken by Member States under Article 18 of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) does not, in itself, indicate that those Member States apply the Withdrawal Agreement incorrectly,” they said.

The Migration Agency had carried out a review of refusals, they said, checking a selection for “legal quality”, something The Local has previously reported on.

The Commission had received the Migration Agency’s review, they said, but had yet to complete its analysis of the findings. 

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