Many ambitions on climate and environment dossiers, but the planned “competitiveness agenda” might push in the other direction. That’s a brief summary of Sweden’s work program for the EU Presidency first half of 2023.
The 33-page document mentions all relevant green legislation that is mature for Council deliberations or conciliation (as far as I can see). This includes the regulation on nature restoration that Stockholm has been critical to before, where Sweden will “continue the work”, and the regulation of packaging that Business Europe has tried to stop.
On forest related issues (such as nature restoration), Swedish PM Ulf Kristersson today said in Parliament that it would be for like-minded countries to now push harder while Sweden as Presidency would try to bring together differing views.
The Swedish Permanent Representation in Brussels has many highly competent Counsellors for different parts of the EU Green Deal, and this is also true of the Government Offices in Stockholm. However, given the large amount of legislation to be negotiated, there will probably be a need for political choices on where to put the energy to achieve agreements in the final stretch. Swedish national priorities might play a certain role then, but that remains to be seen.
What is clear, however, is that competitiveness is high on the Swedish right-wing government’s agenda. “The EU has for a long time not prioritised competitiveness, instead developing complicated sets of regulations”, it was stated in an op-ed today, and the Prime Minister spoke about avoiding “excessive regulation” when presenting the Presidency in the Parliament.
Sweden will establish a long-term competitiveness agenda for the EU in connection with “the internal market at 30”, stated the government. The work program mentions inter alia promoting comprehensive impact assessments and reducing the regulatory burden, topics also recently highlighted by Business Europe in its Stockholm declaration with expectations for the Swedish Presidency.
Depending on how this competitiveness agenda is designed, it might slow down the ambitions of the Green Deal. For those interested in climate and environment issues, that will be a space to watch.
Finally, it is worth noting that climate and security as well as strenghtened EU climate diplomacy are mentioned as important issues for Foreign Ministers.