Sweden should participate in EU defence forces – poll

A Swedish research institute reports that more Swedes support the country’s participation in EU defence forces than are against the idea.

Sweden should participate in EU defence forces - poll
Photo: Johan Lundahl/Combat Camera/ Försvarets Bildbyrå

It is the first time since the study began that public opinion has been more positive than negative toward EU defence participation by historically non-aligned Sweden.

The study, conducted by FSI (Forskningsgruppen för samhälls- och informationsstudier), shows that 39 percent of those polled are positive toward Swedish participation in a common EU defence.

Twenty-four percent are against the idea, while the remaining respondents are neutral or have no opinion.

The result marks a major shift in public opinion from FSI’s last poll conducted in the fall of 2005.

In the previous study, 32 percent supported Sweden’s involvement in EU defences, while 39 percent were against the idea.

The new results also shows that opposition to Swedish membership in Nato has also softened somewhat, with only 34 percent opposing the idea.

In the 2005 study, 37 percent opposed Nato membership for Sweden.

The future and direction of Sweden’s military has been the subject of intense debate and several setbacks since last summer.

Defense minister Mikael Odenberg resigned in September in response to proposed spending cuts, and the Swedish-led Nordic Battle Group struggled to meet equipment requirements for its January 2008 launch.

In reporting on the results of the FSI study, Dagens Nyheter (DN) points out that the competing viewpoints of various politicians, lobbyists, and different groups from the defence establishment have caused the general public to lose confidence in the Swedish military.

Nearly 40 percent of those polled are unsure of their opinion toward Sweden’s military, up from 32 percent in 2005. Twenty-four percent of those polled also felt the Swedish military was “too ineffective.”

“Uncertainty about whether Sweden has an effective defence has increased. And more and more believe that an EU-defence can compensate for the reduction,” said FSI’s opinion analyst Joachim Timander to DN.