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Politics in Sweden: Who is Jessika Roswall, Sweden’s next EU commissioner?

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
Politics in Sweden: Who is Jessika Roswall, Sweden’s next EU commissioner?
Jessika Roswall was nominated as Sweden's next EU commissioner on July 8th. Photo: Mikaela Landeström/TT

The European Commission in Brussels is made up of commissioners from each of the 27 EU countries, who are replaced every five years following elections to the EU parliament. Sweden’s next EU commissioner will be the fifth woman and the first Moderate Party politician to take on the role.

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Who is Jessika Roswall?

Jessika Roswall has been Sweden’s minister for the EU and Nordic cooperation since 2022, so it is perhaps not much of a surprise that she’s been put forward as the country’s next EU commissioner. She is a Moderate from Uppsala, and trained as a lawyer before entering politics.

“I’m extremely honoured and thankful that the Prime Minister has such confidence in me to nominate me,” Roswell said in a press conference announcing her nomination. “It’s an honour to have the opportunity to be Sweden’s next EU commissioner.”

She’s been an MP since 2010 and since then she has worked on the tax committee, the civil affairs committee, and has been a member of the Swedish Consumer Agency’s transparency council. 

She became the Moderate Party’s spokesperson on EU relations in 2019.

What does an EU commissioner actually do?

Despite the fact that member states each appoint their own commissioner, these commissioners are not supposed to represent their own countries, but rather consider the best interests of the EU as a whole. 

They are in charge of proposing new legislation and monitoring member states’ compliance with that legislation, as well as managing EU revenue and expenditure, ensuring there is free competition within the EU and representing the EU in various international negotiations. 

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Each commissioner has a different area of responsibility, somewhat similar to ministers in national governments. Sweden’s EU commissioner since December 1st, 2019 is Social Democrat Ylva Johansson, who is responsible for migration and home affairs.

What will Roswall’s role be?

It’s not clear yet - this isn’t something which is decided by countries or commissioners themselves, rather commissioners are assigned a role after negotiations with the Commission’s President, which is currently Ursula von der Leyen.

Three of the five past commissioners have been responsible for home affairs within the EU, one of the most important roles within the EU commission, but that’s by no means a guarantee that Roswall will be assigned the same role.

One of these roles has already been assigned - Estonia's Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has been proposed as the EU representative for foreign affairs. Portfolios are assigned based on previous experience and knowledge and many EU countries will be putting the pressure on von der Leyen to assign their commissioner an important portfolio.

How many commissioners have there been in Sweden?

Sweden joined the EU in 1995, and the country has had five commissioners since then - all of them women. There have been three Social Democrats - Anita Gradin (1995-99), Margot Wallström (1999-2010) and Ylva Johansson (2019-2024), and one Liberal - Cecilia Malmström (2010-2019).

Jessika Roswall will be the first Moderate politician to take on the role.

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When will she start?

Roswall is not strictly EU commissioner for Sweden yet - President von der Leyen, as well as the EU parliament, must approve her appointment first.

This is not just a box-ticking exercise, rather she'll be grilled by the EU parliament and will be expected to know her stuff, as well as show that she's the right person for the role, both based on her knowledge and her politics - Malmström and Johansson were both made to answer further questions before their appointments were approved.

Von der Leyen herself also needs to be approved for her second term as President of the EU Commission. The EU parliament will vote on her appointment later in July, and she needs at least 361 'yes' votes to pass. She has strong support from the centre, but it's by no means a given that this will be enough - she only passed with a 9 vote margin in 2019. 

If she isn't approved, the EU heads of state will need to hold a new summit and choose a new candidate within a month.

If all goes to plan and both Roswall and von der Leyen's appointments are approved, Roswall will join the new commissioners in Brussels later this year, on November 1st at the earliest.

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