Covid-19, migration and energy prices on the agenda of the EU Summit

Published

As the EU heads of state and government meet in the European Council in Brussels, the agenda includes the COVID-19 vaccine situation and how the EU can advance digital transformation. The high energy prices in many Member States will also be discussed. At Sweden’s initiative, the leaders will hold a strategic discussion on trade issues.

COVID-19

The Council will take stock of the epidemiological and vaccine situation in Europe and discuss the coordination that will be needed in the EU to restore free movement and international solidarity in vaccine-sharing. Work to allow vaccine certificates from countries outside the EU is under way as part of efforts to normalise travel. Although border issues are dealt with at national level, Sweden considers it important that action within the EU is as coordinated as possible and that the joint recommendations are reviewed.    

Digital transformation

Another matter on the European Council’s agenda is the implementation of the EU’s digital agenda and the negotiations on the major legal instruments in this area. Sweden welcomes strong EU engagement in advancing digital transformation. The EU needs clear regulations that do not impede development in this area. Prioritising digital transformation throughout the EU will ensure more effective and rapid development, benefiting everything from health care to law enforcement.  

Energy prices

At the request of a number of Member States, the EU leaders will discuss the recent hike in energy prices. The unusually high electricity prices affect both private individuals and businesses, and although Swedish electricity prices are among the lowest in the EU, we are also affected by the electricity shortage. This has been caused by a failure of production to meet the high demand that is emerging in the recovery from the pandemic. The European Commission has produced a toolkit with suggested measures that the Member States could take to tackle the situation and support those affected. For Sweden, it is crucial that the EU views a transition to sustainable energy as the only long-term solution and that the EU ensures access to cheap, fossil-free energy.

Migration

The EU leaders will also discuss the external dimension of migration and the proposals put forward by the Commission. It is important that the EU deepens its cooperation with countries of origin and transit countries to counter underlying causes of irregular migration and forced displacement, and that the EU works to strengthen these countries’ own capacities. Sweden also considers it important that further efforts are made to put in place a long-term, sustainable joint asylum system.  

COP26 in Glasgow

It is important to Sweden that the EU has a strong message to convey at COP26 in Glasgow. The climate crisis is happening here and now, and we must keep the target of 1.5 degrees alive. At COP26, the EU must establish how the Member States can live up to the commitments made. What is clear is that everyone needs to do more if the EU’s climate finance target is to be met.

Trade

Sweden has taken the initiative to place trade discussions on the European Council agenda. Trade issues have long been characterised by trade conflicts and trade defence instruments. Sweden sees a need to transform a negative trade agenda into a more open and forward-looking agenda. Trade plays a key role as a driver of growth, jobs and welfare.  

One matter that is not on the agenda but may be touched upon is the Polish Constitutional Tribunal’s widely discussed ruling on the relationship between EU law and national law.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven will attend the meeting in Brussels.