The Swedish Defence Commission has submitted a midterm report to the Minister for Defence Pål Jonson
On 26 April 2023, the Swedish Defence Commission submitted a midterm report to the Minister for Defence Pål Jonson. The report was agreed upon by all political parties represented in the Riksdag. The report included three parts: a review of the implementation of the Government Bill Totalförsvaret 2021–2025 (Total Defence 2021–2025) that the Government adopted on 15 December 2020, suggestions on how Sweden should report its defence expenditures to NATO and a proposal on general guidelines for defence spending between 2026–2030. One of the main conclusions is that the next defence bill should be adopted one year earlier than planned, in 2025 instead of 2026.
The Defence Commission conducted a review of the implementation of the 2020 Defence Bill, which focused on evaluating whether the planned reinforcements and defence material costs have been in line with political decisions. The Defence Commission concluded that the Swedish Armed Forces and the total defence agencies have worked ambitiously to implement the 2020 Defence Bill. However, the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the important military support to Ukraine, increased demand for military equipment and Sweden’s accession to NATO have had an impact on the implementation of the Defence Bill within the financial framework and the timelines that were given in 2020. Thus, the Defence Commission concludes that the next defence bill should be adopted one year earlier than planned, in 2025 rather than 2026.
Recommendations were also made regarding defence expenditures that should be included in the reporting to NATO. The Defence Commission proposes that the reporting should include more expenditures for military defence than currently reported. It should also include expenses such as VAT, pensions and expenses for the Ministry of Defence. The defence expenditures that will be reported to NATO will not be equivalent to the Swedish national budget allocation for military defence. Thus, a distinction must be made between the political agreement reached on 16 March 2022, which was to reach two per cent of GDP in budget allocations for military defence, and the defence expenditures that the Defence Commission suggests should be included in the reporting to NATO. The Commission notes that Sweden should strive for equivalence and comparability with other Allies’ application of the NATO definition of defence expenditures.
The Defence Commission also proposes general guidelines for the economic framework for military defence. The Commission upholds the agreement reached by the eight parties in the Riksdag in March 2022 to reach two per cent of GDP in budget allocations for military defence as soon as it is practically possible. The Commission agreed that the previous political agreements connected to the 2020 Defence Bill should form a basis for the economic framework in the upcoming budget bill in 2024. The Commission will, in a final report due by 26 April 2024, present proposals on how the total defence should continue to be formed up until 2030 with an outlook up to 2035.