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HomeEuropeNo EU migration deal under our watch, says Swedish presidency

No EU migration deal under our watch, says Swedish presidency


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Good morning. A new year, and a new Europe Express: redesigned and under new management. My name is Henry Foy, and I’m delighted to be serving you up the most important things you need to know today, and every weekday morning.

I’m not going to mess with the recipe. It is going to stay crisp and succinct (but with possibly more puns). Just my colleagues in the FT’s unrivalled European network keeping you ahead of the rest, delivering exclusive news and sharp analysis to help you better understand the continent.

But please do fire me an email if you have any tips or advice on how I’m doing. For you today: I sat down with Sweden’s ambassador to the EU as Stockholm takes control of Brussels’s power levers; and European capitals are meandering towards a deal on screening Chinese visitors for Covid. Have a great day.

Sweden takes control No migration pact, increased support for Ukraine and a healthy shot of free market realism to temper the gusto of those seeking to flood Europe with state aid: that’s what to expect from the Swedish presidency of the EU, according to the man tasked with herding the cats. Context: Stockholm has taken charge of the EU council’s myriad decision-making bodies for six months with the continent mired in crises — from Russia’s war and its impact on energy and food markets to how to respond to US green energy subsidies and rising levels of migration.

Complicating Sweden’s presidency is its domestic situation. The far-right, Eurosceptic Sweden Democrats (SD) prop up the minority government. But Lars Danielsson, the country’s ambassador to the EU, says that won’t derail — or determine — its leadership of the bloc. “There are probably taboo topics for Sweden Democrats.

But I take my instructions from the government,” he said. “I don’t think people [in Brussels] are very worried,” he said. “Look, come to us after a month or two and see what we’re doing . . . Look at the results. And then I’m very happy to discuss.” Despite SD opposition to the EU’s proposed new migration pact to manage asylum seekers — on the table for more than two years — the presidency will push ahead with the legislative work to put it in place but will not get it over the line.

“We will definitely advance the work . . . with full force. [But] you will not see a completed migration pact during the Swedish presidency,” Danielsson said, adding that won’t happen until spring 2024 at the earliest. Danielsson said Stockholm would also use a visit by commission president Ursula von der Leyen to frozen northern Sweden next week to propose measures to improve the EU’s economic competitiveness.

That’s aimed at countering her call for a torrent of state aid to combat US green energy subsidies. “She has a role as a policymaker. But, of course, her ultimate boss is, if I may say so, the member states,” he said of von der Leyen’s proposal. “And she needs to sort of align herself with what is the majority of the day.”

Otherwise, Ukraine will remain top of the agenda. Danielsson said more humanitarian and military support for Kyiv and the rolling-over of an EU programme to support Ukrainian refugees should all be agreed without dissent. Debate will instead focus on new sanctions packages already in the works, potential spending of confiscated Russian cash, and how to hold Moscow accountable for alleged war crimes.

“We are now dealing with much shorter notice when it comes to policy because we’re doing such a lot of crisis management these days,” he added. “Swedes are known to love preparations . . . But I think we have to test our ability to improvise.”

Source: Financial Times

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