Sweden Democrats threaten to topple government over EU migration pact

Sweden's far-right party on Friday urged the government to block a planned EU migration deal or lose its vital support in parliament.

Sweden Democrats threaten to topple government over EU migration pact
Mattias Karlsson has been described as the Sweden Democrats' chief ideologist. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats provide key backing to the minority centre-right government, which currently holds the presidency of the European Union. The party fiercely opposes EU plans to redistribute newly-arrived migrants between member states.

“It can hardly come as a shock to anyone that the Sweden Democrats want an independent and very strict Swedish migration policy. The EU ‘migration pact’ would mean the opposite in practice,” party leader Jimmie Åkesson said.

“We will not accept that Swedish voters’ power over migration policy is handed to politicians and bureaucrats in Brussels. Period,” he wrote on Facebook.

Shortly before that, another senior party member demanded the government block the text.

“Otherwise, I have a hard time seeing how the basis of our cooperation can continue,” Mattias Karlsson wrote.

European MPs on Thursday voted in favour of opening negotiations with EU member states on the thorny reform, hoping to reach agreement by spring 2024.

The text was drawn up by Swedish Euro MP Tomas Tobé, a member of Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s conservative Moderates Party. Conservative, eurosceptic and far-right lawmakers in the European parliament voted against the text on Thursday.

The text calls for a mechanism of mandatory solidarity to ease the burden on member states facing heavy refugee flows, especially Mediterranean nations taking in migrants after rescue operations at sea.

Member states would mostly be required to send financial or material assistance if they don’t take in asylum seekers from other EU countries, but in the event of a sudden and major influx of migrants, the relocation of migrants would become mandatory.

Under current regulations, the first European country where a migrant arrives is in charge of processing the asylum application, which has weighed heavily on countries like Malta, Italy, Greece and Spain.

The European Commission presented its initial plan for a revised mandatory redistribution of migrants in 2020, after a mandatory quota system introduced following the 2015 migrant crisis failed.

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Denmark’s finance minister to take ten weeks’ paternity leave

Denmark's Finance Minister, Nicolai Wammen, has announced that he will go on parental leave for ten weeks this summer, writing on Facebook that he was "looking forward to spending time with the little boy."

Denmark's finance minister to take ten weeks' paternity leave

Wammen said he would be off work between June 5th and August 13th, with Morten Bødskov, the country’s business minister standing in for him in his absence.

“On June 5th I will go on parental leave with Frederik, and I am really looking forward to spending time with the little boy,” Wammen said in the post announcing his decision, alongside a photograph of himself together with his son, who was born in November.

Denmark’s government last March brought in a new law bringing in 11 weeks’ use-it-or-lose-it parental leave for each parent in the hope of encouraging more men to take longer parental leave. Wammen is taking 9 weeks and 6 days over the summer. 

The new law means that Denmark has met the deadline for complying with an EU directive requiring member states earmark nine weeks of statutory parental leave for fathers.

This is the second time Bødskov has substituted for Wammen, with the minister standing in for him as acting Minister of Taxation between December 2020 and February 2021. 

“My parental leave with Christian was quite simply one of the best decisions in my life and I’m looking forward to having the same experience with Frederik,” Wammen wrote on Facebook in November alongside a picture of him together with his son.

Male politicians in Denmark have tended to take considerably shorter periods of parental leave than their female colleagues. 

Minister of Employment and Minister for Equality Peter Hummelgaard went on parental leave for 8 weeks and 6 days in 2021. Mattias Tesfaye took one and a half months away from his position as Denmark’s immigration minister in 2020. Troels Lund Poulsen – now acting defence minister – took three weeks away from the parliament took look after his new child in 2020. Education minister Morten Østergaard took two weeks off in 2012.