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Sweden's role in NATO


NATO is a defence Alliance whose purpose is to safeguard the Allies’ freedom and security. Here you will find information about the Government’s work and policies on NATO and what NATO membership means for Sweden.

Frequently asked questions

It is the Government’s assessment that joining NATO is the best way for Sweden to protect its security.

In December 2021, Russia expressed far-reaching demands for a fundamentally changed European security order. These demands included the creation of spheres of influence, and influence over other states’ security policy choices. The full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 is an additional and exceptionally serious expression of this ambition. 

Russia’s actions have brought about a major deterioration of the security environment in Sweden’s neighbourhood. NATO membership and the build-up of Sweden’s defence are direct consequences of this insight. 

The Government at the time decided to apply for NATO membership on 16 May 2022. The decision was based on a report (see link below) by the cross-party working group appointed by the Government to review the changed security situation following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Sweden became a member of NATO on 7 March 2024.

NATO membership strengthens Sweden’s security, while NATO as a whole becomes stronger. As a NATO member, Sweden is covered by the collective defence obligations set out under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which is intended to deter antagonistic actors from using military force against Sweden.

North Atlantic Treaty (Swedish Treaty Series 2024:1) (

The Swedish Defence Commission’s report on security policy Allvarstid (Ds 2023:19) states that an armed attack or use of military force against Sweden cannot be ruled out. The threat scenario facing Sweden is broad and becoming increasingly complex, including improper information influence, disinformation, influence operations, cyberattacks, terrorism and sabotage, threats to critical infrastructure and exploitation of economic dependencies.

In 2014, NATO endorsed the Defence Investment Pledge, which calls for Allies to meet the two per cent GDP guideline by 2024. At least 20 per cent of defence expenditure should go towards investments in materiel. At the Vilnius Summit on 11–12 July 2023, the Allies agreed to make the two per cent target a minimum level so as to address the deteriorating security situation and meet the commitments and obligations of NATO membership.

NATO’s definition of defence expenditure includes some items that Sweden has not previously defined as defence expenditure. These are items such as value-added tax for defence materiel and pensions for military personnel. To enable a more representative comparison of Swedish defence expenditure in a NATO context, Sweden has decided to adjust a number of items in its reporting of defence expenditure to NATO. 

Appropriations for military defence were increased by SEK 27 billion (28 per cent increase) from 2023 to 2024. Sweden’s total defence expenditure according to NATO’s definition is expected to amount to 2.1 per cent of GDP in 2024.  

There is broad political consensus in Sweden that the appropriations for military defence, i.e. appropriations 1:1–1:13 of expenditure area 6, should continue to increase. This consensus is exemplified by the political agreement between all parties in the Riksdag on 16 March 2022 and by the Defence Commission’s report:

Review 2023 (Ds 2023:12) (in Swedish)

This approach means that Sweden’s total defence expenditure according to the broader NATO definition will be slightly more than two per cent of GDP. 

The aim of NATO’s joint defence planning is to minimise the time between the outset of a crisis and the start of an intervention. As a member of NATO, Sweden is now part of NATO’s defence planning and participates in NATO’s joint defence. This means that Sweden is part of, and contributes to, NATO forces and command structures.

NATO also carries out joint capability planning. This means that NATO identifies the military capabilities that both the Alliance as a whole and the individual member countries need in order to carry out their tasks and to maintain NATO’s collective defence.

As a NATO member, Sweden is part of NATO’s collective defence. Over time, Sweden will participate widely in NATO operations, exercises and deterrence and defence efforts. The following are a few examples of what Sweden can contribute towards the Alliance’s collective defence ability:

  • Sweden’s geostrategic position, which is vital for enabling reinforcements such as units and defence equipment to reach Europe from North America.
  • Sweden’s ability to support other Allies, including through Host Nation Support, which is crucial for the Alliance’s ability to operate in our part of Europe. Host country support refers to Sweden’s capability to provide civilian and military support in peace, crisis or war to a military force belonging to a state or international organisation that has been invited onto Swedish territory. This may include providing support with transport, fuel, medical care, food, etc. – activities that involve both military and civilian actors in both preparation and implementation. 
  • Regional expertise and military resources adapted to Nordic conditions. For example, Sweden has a unique capability to operate with naval forces in the demanding and unique environment of the Baltic Sea region.
  • Support to NATO Air Policing, contributions to NATO’s standing maritime forces and participation in NATO’s enhanced presence in Eastern Europe (NATO’s enhanced forward presence in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary). Sweden will contribute within the framework of NATO’s 360-degree perspective, meaning that NATO must be able to address threats from all directions.
  • Sweden can provide exercise and training opportunities on Swedish territory to ground, sea and air combat forces from Allies. These exercises strengthen the ability to work together within the Alliance and thus also the ability to collectively defend Sweden.
  • Through a strong civil defence, Sweden contributes to NATO’s joint effort to strengthen civil preparedness and resilience, which in turn strengthens NATO’s collective deterrence and defence capabilities. 

As a NATO member, Sweden is covered by the collective defence obligations set out under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. This means that an armed attack against Sweden is considered an attack against all NATO members. The other members are then obliged to assist Sweden with the measures deemed necessary. This strengthens Sweden’s security.

Just as other Allies would be obliged to support Sweden, so too is Sweden obliged to consider an armed attack against another member an attack against Sweden, and assist Allies with the measures deemed necessary.

NATO is a defence Alliance based on collective defence guarantees, which means that Swedish personnel may take part in defence operations beyond Sweden’s borders, just as personnel from other Allies may need to take part in operations to defend Sweden.

If Sweden is at war or at risk of war, Swedish citizens who have completed basic training in national military service and are assigned to wartime postings will be called to serve in accordance with the Total Defence Service Act. This applies regardless of Sweden’s NATO membership.

The extent to which conscripts are obliged to serve, including beyond Sweden’s borders, is a matter that is being analysed more closely in light of Sweden’s NATO membership. 

NATO as an organisation has the stated objective of working to create conditions for a world that is free of nuclear weapons and is strongly committed to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. All Allies are party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). As a NATO member, Sweden will continue to pursue disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons within the framework of the NPT, including through active participation in the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament.

Sweden has cooperated with NATO for decades and participated in many NATO exercises, NATO-led operations and capacity-building missions beyond NATO territory. 

Sweden has participated with peacekeeping forces within the framework of the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR), the Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan and Operation Unified Protector in Libya. 

Sweden also contributes to NATO’s capacity-building mission in Iraq aimed at strengthening Iraqi security institutions and Iraqi defence forces’ possibilities to stabilise the country, combat terrorism and prevent the return of the Islamic State. In addition, Sweden contributes to NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP) to Ukraine, which aims to strengthen the resilience of Ukraine’s armed forces, facilitate the defence reform process and bring Ukraine closer to NATO standards.

NATO member countries are obliged to contribute towards each other’s security. This affects Allies’ defence and security relations in cooperation formats outside NATO, such as NORDEFCO.

Now that Sweden and Finland have become Allies, all Nordic countries are NATO members. The fact that Swedish and Finnish territory is part of NATO’s combined geography and part of NATO’s operations planning changes the military strategic situation in northern Europe.

Bilateral and multilateral agreements and preparations among Allies complement NATO obligations and are often a prerequisite for a single member country or NATO as whole to be able to benefit from its capabilities and conduct operations in peace, crisis and war. 

Established bilateral and multilateral forms of defence cooperation can complement NATO, particularly at the onset of a crisis or conflict. NORDEFCO and the British-led JEF are examples of important regional cooperation.

Within NATO, strengthening society’s resilience and civil preparedness is both a national responsibility and a collective undertaking. The aim of strengthening society’s resilience is to strengthen the Alliance’s overall capability of resisting and recovering from major disturbances and crises such as hybrid attacks, armed attacks, disruption of critical infrastructure and natural disasters. 

NATO has identified seven particularly important areas for the Alliance’s resilience: the seven baseline requirements for civil preparedness. As a partner country, Sweden already participated in NATO’s work on civil preparedness and resilience. As a member, Sweden has even greater possibilities for international cooperation to develop defence and national crisis preparedness. 

Several Swedish government agencies take part in the work coordinated by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.

As a member of NATO, Sweden is party to the North Atlantic Treaty. Sweden is also expected to accede to additional agreements within NATO concerning various aspects of military operations. These involve matters such as the legal status of certain categories of personnel and protective security. These agreements were analysed from a legal perspective ahead of Sweden’s NATO membership. An inquiry was tasked with reviewing certain legal issues ahead of NATO membership and has assisted the Government Offices in this analysis. This inquiry was carried out internally by the Ministry of Defence.

The inquiry analysed matters such as what possible constitutional amendments are required for Sweden to accede to the above-mentioned agreements (see the memorandum on Sweden’s access to certain NATO agreements, Ds 2023:22). On 18 April 2024, the Government submitted the government bill on Sweden’s accession to certain NATO agreements (Govt Bill 2023/24:133) to the Riksdag. The proposal deals with four key agreements that require certain constitutional amendments for Sweden to fulfil its obligations under the agreements.

The activities of government agencies in NATO are governed by framework instructions. The framework instructions apply to the work of relevant government agencies in NATO committees and working groups, and their appointments to certain positions within NATO structures.

Moreover, the instructions include a special mandate for the Swedish Armed Forces to negotiate and conclude necessary agreements and appoint staff to military posts in NATO’s strategic headquarters, personnel and agencies.

Statement of Government Policy Following Sweden’s Accession to NATO

On 20 March, the Government presented the Statement of Foreign Policy following Sweden’s accession to NATO.