General information on efforts to increase participation

Minister for EU Affairs and Trade Ann Linde is leading the Government´s efforts to strengthen participation, knowledge and engagement in EU-related issues in Sweden. The work is carried out through, for example, the ‘EU handshakes’, enhanced consultation procedures with civil society and other actors, and efforts to increase knowledge about the EU. The aim of the Government is to increase citizens’ opportunities to access and participate in decisions at EU level.

Being a member of the EU means that Sweden has direct influence on and is directly affected by decisions adopted at EU level. The EU level, is one of the decision-making levels in Sweden together with the municipal, regional and national levels.

EU cooperation allows Member States to jointly address cross-border challenges and make life easier for individuals. At the same time, many citizens feel that their possibility to influence decisions taken at EU level is poorer than at local and national level.

In early 2016, the inquiry report The EU in Sweden (Swedish Government Official Reports 2016:10) was submitted to the Government. The report shows that in Sweden, consultation on issues decided at EU level often occurs late in the legislative process, when it is difficult to influence decisions. Furthermore, it shows that there is a lack of knowledge about the EU – even among key actors such as teachers, journalists, elected representatives, and employees at municipal and regional level.

The report also points out that the public debate on issues decided at EU level is sporadic, and is often introduced at a late stage in the legislative process. When the political dividing lines are not visible in the public debate, this also reduces the possibility for the general public to take a position on and try to influence issues.

In light of the conclusions in The EU in Sweden, Minister for EU Affairs and Trade Ann Linde has initiated efforts to strengthen participation, knowledge and engagement in EU-related issues in Sweden. Efforts include initiatives to strengthen knowledge about the EU among key actors, to improve consultation procedures on EU-related issues, and to conduct a dialogue with public authorities regarding their consultation and information on EU affairs. Through the ‘EU handshake’, more relevant actors are invited to contribute to the efforts.