Sweden must fully prepare to leave the European Union in order to maximize its negotiating position with the bloc, stated Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party.
In an article published by Svenska Dagbladet on Monday, Åkesson and his co-author, Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers, expressed their desire for Sweden to “maximize its influence” in the European Union, outlining three measures the Swedish government must take.
First, the government should seek to make constitutional changes in order to introduce a “referendum lock,” which would enshrine into law the requirement of a public vote before any further powers can be transferred from Stockholm to Brussels.
It is a mechanism previously adopted by both Britain and Denmark, and the Sweden Democrats leader believes it will provide a necessary safeguard against any attempted power-grab by Brussels.
“Only the knowledge that every decision on the transfer of power must be submitted to the citizens would slow down the worst abuses from Brussels,” the pair wrote.
Second, the Swedish government should make the necessary preparations to leave the European Union to ensure it is ready should the decision ever be taken to do so and to legitimize any threat to withdraw in future negotiations with the bloc.
“In order for preparedness to be credible, it is necessary that we remove the writings in the constitution that state that Sweden is a member of the EU.
“In addition, we should train a cadre of civil servants with the expertise to negotiate trade agreements and other things that we have delegated to the EU and study how Brexit could have been implemented better. The better we are prepared to leave, the more we will gain in future negotiations,” Åkesson and Weimers added.
The Sweden Democrats leader also wants an investigation to be launched into how the negative aspects of Sweden’s EU membership can be mitigated.
The right-wing party is currently an informal partner of the Swedish government. While it wasn’t offered the opportunity to help form Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s administration, it is a signatory to the four-party coalition Tidö Agreement in which the coalition parties agreed to adopt a more restrictive immigration policy in return for Sweden Democrats’ support.
Åkesson’s party has long been in favor of Sweden’s withdrawal from the European Union, but accepts this is not a majority view among the Swedish electorate at present. The party officially dropped its support for Swexit in 2018 in a bid to garner more electoral support and subsequently achieved 20.5 percent of the vote in last year’s general election.