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Multilateral defence cooperation

Sweden’s NATO membership is a cornerstone of Swedish foreign and security policy. Other important multilateral defence cooperation occurs within the EU, NORDEFCO and the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).


NATO is a defence Alliance whose purpose is to safeguard the member countries’ freedom and security. On 7 March 2024, Sweden became a full member of NATO. The North Atlantic Treaty forms the basis of NATO and its name (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). At its core, the Treaty is a collective defence obligation. An armed attack on one member is considered an attack on all NATO members, with members then committed to defend each other. As an Ally, Sweden must maintain a strong national defence capability in order to contribute to NATO’s collective defence.

Sweden in NATO

The EU

In 1995, Sweden became an EU Member State, which involves cooperation that spans several policy areas. The shared objective of EU security and defence cooperation is the development of a better integrated European defence capability, and for the EU to be able to conduct all types of civilian and military crisis management operations. 

Sweden in the EU


The Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) was launched in 2009. The primary aim of cooperation between Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway is to increase the countries’ defence capabilities and strengthen their ability to take joint action if a crisis ensues in their neighbourhood. 

Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO)

The Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF)

Sweden has been a member of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) since 2017, which involves defence cooperation led by the United Kingdom that also includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. The JEF must be able to respond swiftly to crises and wars in northern Europe, either on its own or jointly with NATO.

European Intervention Initiative (E12)

In 2019, Sweden joined the French-led European Intervention Initiative (EI2) defence cooperation, which aims to strengthen the countries’ capability to act jointly in crisis management operations.

Framework Nations Concept (FNC) 

In 2018, Sweden joined the German initiative Framework Nations Concept (FNC), which consists of over 20 countries and aims to increase European defence capability. The initiative includes projects within various areas such as health and medical care, management of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats and risks, civil-military cooperation and logistics.

The Northern Group

The Northern Group is a defence policy forum, initiated by the UK in 2010. It includes the Nordic and Baltic countries, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK. Defence ministers from the Northern Group countries ordinarily meet to discuss and coordinate security and defence policy issues of mutual interest.

Cooperation on defence materiel

Sweden also cooperates with other countries on defence materiel. These forms of cooperation take place both bilaterally and multilaterally and are important for acquisition of Swedish technology and materiel. Sweden has memorandums of understanding in place that regulate bilateral materiel cooperation with more than 30 countries.

Exports-supporting activities and international forms of cooperation are used as a means to further acquisition of materials that will strengthen and develop the operational capability of the Swedish Armed Forces. Materiel cooperation is, by extension, important to developing all forms of defence and security policy cooperation.