Brexit: Expert warns UK has to be ‘innovative’
Deep divisions inside Brussels have emerged in recent weeks as member states turn on European Union officials for its botched handling of the coronavirus vaccine rollout. Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, admitted that there had been flaws in the bloc’s approach to delivering jabs to citizens, as a huge row opened up with drug firm AstraZeneca. Ms von der Leyen installed temporary rules which restricts the exporting of vaccines that were made by EU members, after concerns grew that AstraZeneca would be unable to fulfil its original quote on vaccines.
The heated dispute even saw Ms von der Leyen infuriate the UK and Dublin, by demanding checks be made between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – a move she has since backtracked on.
This feud has caused significant damage to the bloc’s reputation, and as a result eurosceptism has risen in some quarters, particularly as states glance enviously over at the UK.
Sweden in particular is renowned for its relationship with Britain, and before the UK’s referendum in 2016 on its EU membership, Cathrine Danin – a senior analyst for Stockholm’s leading financial institution Swedbank – claimed her country could follow London out of Brussels.
One of the main issues for Ms Danin was that if Brexit was secured, Sweden’s influence in the EU would be diminished, and that it could be forced to enter the dreaded eurozone.
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In a report regarding the financial implications Brexit could have for Sweden, Ms Danin noted that some countries already in the euro “prefer deeper integration in the eurozone” and that the UK quitting Brussels “could isolate nations like Sweden”.
She added: “This could force Sweden to seek closer relationships with the UK, Norway and possibly Denmark at the expense of the EU.
“In the medium to longer term, therefore, we might expect a more fragmented Europe that will develop at different speeds.”
Ms Danin also detailed that Sweden was different to the UK and Denmark in terms of its relationship with the euro, as it “does not have a formal opt out” from joining the eurzone.
Swedbank’s Cathrine Danin
She said that although it was unlikely pressure would be placed on Stockholm to adopt the currency, “the pressure would increase if the UK leaves the EU”.
Ms Danin concluded: “Historically, both Sweden and the UK have leaned towards a more liberal direction, advocating free trade and increased competition, which other countries have opposed.
“In addition, both Sweden and the UK have large financial sectors and they collaborate closely with regard to regulation of the financial markets.
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“Without the UK, Sweden would lose its most important ally in the EU and the possibility of getting important issues through the system would diminish.”
In 2016 there was an appetite for Swexit, as a poll by TNS Sifo found that 36 percent would be in favour of quitting the EU, while 32 percent were against.
Similarly, nine in 10 people also felt that the UK leaving the EU would be a bad thing to happen to the bloc – and for Sweden.
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Sweden enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the UK while it was a member of the bloc, and often relied on its vote during sessions in European Parliament.
Between 2009 and 2015, the UK and Sweden joined together on 88 percent of votes, Votewatch Europe claimed.
Together, they even successfully led a charge to secure the first ever EU budget cut back in 2013.
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Ulrica Schenström, a Moderate Party member and former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s state secretary, also explained how difficult Sweden’s relationship with the bloc could become should the UK quit in 2016.
She said that there were “lots of reasons for Sweden to be worried”, The Local reported, adding: “Our partnership with the UK, which like us is outside the euro but inside the EU, is really important for us.
“Britain has done a lot of the heavy lifting for us non-euro countries.”