Sweden will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2023. How did the new government prepare for this time? What are you most looking forward to in the coming months?
Both the current and the former government has had a close dialogue with the Swedish parliament on the preparations of the Swedish presidency. There is a broad agreement among all parties around the presidency priorities and a common understanding of what the challenges will be. I look forward to working together with all Member States to find common solutions to the many common challenges that we are facing.
The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, energy crisis, migration – there are many challenges during your presidency. One of your priorities will be European security. What are your aims?
Security is one of our most important priorities. Russia's war of aggression affects the entire European agenda. The EU has shown great strength in its ability to support Ukraine on large scale. We will work hard to continue supporting Ukraine in all possible manners and maintain political and economic pressure on Russia.
We also see a need to strengthen our internal security, which is why the Swedish presidency will prioritize initiatives to fight cross border organised crime.
The war has major economic and energy policy implications for the EU. During the corona pandemic, the European partners have agreed to invest, launched packages and funds. What actions will the Swedish Presidency take?
Russia’s war of aggression – and indeed its impact on many sectors – has emphasized the importance of accelerating the green energy transition and taking a greater responsibility for our own energy supply. European competitiveness and how we can close the growth and innovation gap between the EU and its global competitors needs to be on top of the European agenda. The EU needs a long-term strategy to create attractive conditions for investing in Europe.
Due the current crises the climate change and environmental destruction has not received enough attention at least in the media. How do you want to handle it?
This past year has demonstrated in all clarity the need for transitioning from fossil fuel dependency to green energy sources. A forward-looking climate and environmental policy is necessary to achieve this. We will work hard to finalize Fit for 55 and maintain focus on reaching the EU’s climate and energy goals, while also pointing to its importance for European global competitiveness and security.
How do think about the relations between Germany and Sweden? What are your wishes from Germany?
Germany and Sweden share the same views on many issues, not least when it comes to the importance of boosting European competitiveness, resilience and security, as well as an ambitious climate and energy framework. Bilateral relations with Germany are indeed important for the Swedish government and I have a good relationship with my colleague Anna Lührmann, Minister of State for Europe and Climate at the Federal Foreign Office. My wish is that we can continue to work together in finding European solutions to both short-term and long-term challenges.
Sweden has been a member of the EU since 1995. How do you currently perceive the mood of the Swedish population in relation to the European Union?
I think Swedes are increasingly aware of the fact that the challenges we are facing cannot be solved by Sweden alone. We need European solutions and legislation to create impact. European support for Ukraine, sanctions against Russia and the climate crisis is all clear examples of this.
What do you personally associate with Germany?
My perception of Germany is a country with great scientific excellence and a strong industrial base. Of course, as a former member of the Committee on Transport in the Swedish parliament, we visited Stuttgart to learn more about the German innovative car industry.