Work in the EU
Work at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is defined to a considerable degree by Swedens membership of the EU. This affects almost all the Ministrys areas of responsibility; officials at all levels are engaged in EU work and both the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm and missions abroad, including the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU in Brussels, are involved.
In day-to-day operations, EU aspects touch on almost all Ministry for Foreign Affairs areas of responsibility, from work on bilateral relations, i.e. relations between Sweden and other countries, to the shaping of security policy or development assistance policy.
They may include the EUs political contacts with Africa or Latin America, where Swedish opinions are interwoven with those of the other member states. They may include EU statements in the United Nations on human rights in a particular country, where Sweden contributes its views. They may also apply to the cooperation on consular affairs existing between EU member countries, i.e. the assistance given to Swedish nationals abroad, where, as Union citizens, Swedes can obtain assistance from the embassy of another member country in places where Sweden has no embassy of its own.
Officials at all levels, politically appointed state secretaries and ministers are involved in the process, to ensure that the Ministrys EU work is as efficient as possible. Although initial contacts are often taken at official level, at other times contacts taken by political appointees are preferable.
EU work is undertaken in Stockholm, Brussels and at the various missions abroad. In simple terms, this means that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs lays down the policy and the missions abroad convey messages and reactions between Stockholm and the government of the country of operations or the international organisation. The Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU in Brussels represents the Government in the Union. Officials both from Stockholm and Brussels participate in EU meetings and discussions of the issues take place between Stockholm, Brussels and the missions abroad. Work pertaining to the EU varies depending on the country of operations, particularly when the country is a member of the EU as opposed to a non-EU member.
The Ministrys areas of responsibility are dealt with in two different constellations of the Council:
The General Affairs and External Relations Council
The Competitiveness Council