Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven debated the future of Europe with MEPs and Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, on Wednesday.
In his address to MEPs, Prime Minister Löfven stressed that the EU must step up to defend its fundamental values to create hope for the future, and that the most strategic way to fight the forces that challenge those values is to deliver on employment, security, migration and climate change.
The EU needs to stand up for democracy – also at home
In times when the multilateral system is being shaken to its core, Löfven said that it is up to the EU to stand up for common, principle-based solutions, and a world order where might does not come before right. But the EU can only be a strong voice for democracy in the world if all member states stand up for this principle at home, he added.
“For every democratic principle that is weakened in the EU, the EU’s voice in the world is equally weakened. We can only be a force for free media and the rule of law in our neighbourhood if we have free media and independent courts in our union,” PM Löfven said.
Lessons after Brexit
On Brexit, the Swedish PM said: “I believe it is crucial for all of us in the current Brexit negotiations that the UK and the EU can move on as friends – and create a close, strong and long-term relationship. But the only way for the EU to avoid similar exit ordeals in the future is to constantly prove its worth to people’s everyday lives – and to their dreams for the future”.
EU’s long-term budget 2021-2027
Regarding the negotiations on the EU’s new long-term budget, Löfven stated: “We do not propose a larger budget, but rather prioritising innovation and new jobs, and the digital, educational and physical infrastructure required to make them possible”.
European Pillar of Social Rights
Prime Minister Löfven expressed his gratitude to President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Commission, the European Parliament and the member states in the Council “for all of our work to create a social pillar, and establish 20 key principles that strengthen the social rights of all the citizens of Europe.”
He also added that Sweden will actively promote all new free trade agreements, “because we know how many jobs they can create”.
“The EU must never again lose control in the way it did during the refugee crisis. The free movement of people requires shared external borders, and a shared responsibility for orderly and regulated migration built on three pillars: strong cooperation with countries outside the EU, the control of all external borders and a fair distribution of those who arrive and whose grounds for asylum are to be examined”, said Löfven.
Finally, on climate change, the Swedish PM said: “We, together, must implement the Paris Agreement without any “ifs” or “buts” or “maybes”, to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees. The EU needs to adopt a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 at the very latest. It is also a great opportunity for European industry, as the whole world is crying out for new solutions”.