After many years of economic crisis and growing populist forces, the EU is meeting a new year with renewed self-confidence. The economy has turned upwards and now there is economic growth in all Member States. A necessary and useful forward-looking debate is under way on the development of the Union and there is growing understanding of the importance of a more social Europe in which citizens are at the centre of the Union’s work. The Government is working for greater openness, transparency and participation in EU-related issues, and during the last year civil society and other social actors have been invited to dialogues about various issues in “EU thematic consultation forums”, where they have been able to present views and comments about new legislative proposals. This work will be developed in 2018.
Sweden and Europe need a well-functioning EU to respond to the great challenges that we jointly need to handle. At the same time the threat from climate change is more serious than ever. Showing global leadership in climate issues and creating hope for the future is becoming one of the EU’s most important tasks. Together we need to promote trade, abolish barriers in the Single Market, better handle migration flows and keep a high degree of environmental protection.
But this cooperation must centre on people. The work done in the EU must lead to improvements in people’s everyday lives. The Government has pressed successfully to move ‘social Europe’, with its focus on people’s living and working conditions, higher up on the EU’s agenda. This work will continue in 2018.
Cooperation in the EU builds on common fundamental values of freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights. These are values that are not negotiable and that make up the foundation for functioning cooperation and for mutual trust between Member States and towards the world. In the past year these values have been questioned in parts in the EU. The Government will continue to support the efforts of the Commission to assert these common values, and will work, in 2018, for the development of further and more effective tools to prevent breaches of them and to defend the rule of law throughout the EU.
During the year the negotiations on the UK’s exit from the EU and on the new relationship will continue. The Government prioritises cohesion in the EU27 and the development and improvement of cooperation in the EU. The Government is working to ensure continued good relations and close cooperation between the EU and the UK, especially through the establishment of a strong and extensive trading relationship after the UK has left the EU.
By highlighting the most important issues in EU work for the fourth time in this electoral term, the Government is focusing its efforts where they are best needed, which enhances Sweden’s ability to influence developments. In 2018 the Government will give particular priority to questions concerning a social Europe for jobs and inclusive growth; an ambitious climate, energy and environment policy; a common asylum system and expanded cooperation on migration; and a secure EU in a secure world.