Hopes of stronger EU cooperation on security, climate and migration
In the midst of an extremely important time for the EU, Germany's Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Stockholm on 31 January for a meeting with Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Brexit negotiations are due to begin, and a new asylum system will be put into place. Germany has a key role in both of these processes. Hans Dahlgren is State Secretary to Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, and he tells us more about the visit.
How are Sweden's relations with Germany?
We have good and close relations. This is evident from the large number of regular contacts between us at various levels. Here at the Prime Minister's Office we speak pretty much every week with our German counterparts at Angela Merkel's Federal Chancellery.
What are the most important issues in your contacts?
We are in agreement on the acute need for the EU to agree on a functioning refugee policy. We are working together to achieve an agreement on this in the first half of the year, with all countries taking their share of the responsibility. It is also important to us to find good negotiating positions with a view to the UK's withdrawal from the EU. We need to safeguard the future of the EU, but also ensure good relations with the UK.
Why are good relations and cooperation with Germany in particular so important?
Germany is the largest EU Member State. The Germans play a key role when most decisions are to be taken. Considering that we also have considerable trade with Germany, this is very significant for Swedish industry and Swedish jobs. We share a fundamental interest in a strong, functioning EU based on democratic values.
What is the reason for the meeting with Angela Merkel?
This is an extremely important time for the EU, so we are particularly delighted that she has chosen to come and visit Stefan Löfven now. The Brexit negotiations will get under way soon, and a new asylum system will be put into place. Germany has a key role in both of these processes.
What do you hope the meeting will result in?
We need a strong EU in an increasingly insecure world. We therefore need to strengthen our cooperation on issues concerning security, climate and migration. A Europe with its citizens in focus, that strengthens jobs and growth but also decent working conditions and good wage development, is also on our agenda.
I hope that the meeting will ultimately lead to a number of concrete cooperation initiatives for more jobs, in which innovations and ways to strengthen exchange between Sweden and Germany will be discussed further. And I also think that Stefan Löfven and Angela Merkel will strengthen our joint positions in our work for the future of the EU.