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International cooperation


The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs is responsible for the Government’s work in the EU and internationally within the Ministry’s areas of responsibility.

In the EU

In the EU, each Member State has the primary responsibility for social and health care-related issues. The EU supports and complements the Member States’ policies in several of these areas. 

Some of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs’ areas of responsibility are subject to governing rules in the form of EU regulations and directives. In other areas, strategies, action plans and programmes define the direction of the EU Member States’ work. Member States also collaborate to learn from one another’s experience and good practices. 

Together with the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union adopts EU legislation based on proposals from the European Commission. The Council consists of government ministers from the Member States. The relevant minister from the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs attends Council meetings at which the Ministry’s issues are discussed. These issues are addressed in the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) and the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council (EYCS). The Ministry’s issues are also taken up in the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) and the Competitiveness Council (COMPET). 

The relevant European Parliament committees are primarily:

  • Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI);
  • Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL); 
  • Culture and Education (CULT); and
  • Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO).


At the European Commission, it is primarily the following Directorates-General that deal with the Ministry’s issues:

  • Health and Food Safety (SANTE);
  • Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (EMPL);
  • Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (EAC); and
  • Justice and Consumers (JUST).

EU issues for which the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs is responsible are addressed in the Riksdag Committee on European Union Affairs and relevant parliamentary committees, where ministers and state secretaries regularly present current matters.

The Nordic countries and neighbourhood

The Nordic Council of Ministers is the Nordic governments’ official cooperation body. The Council consists of the five Nordic countries, as well as Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Åland. The Presidency rotates between the five Member States and is held for a period of one calendar year. Sweden holds the Presidency in 2024. The Nordic governments’ cooperation on health and social affairs takes place within the Nordic Council of Ministers for Health and Social Affairs (MR-S).

In addition to the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs takes part in the following:

  • Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being (NDPHS);
  • Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC); and
  • Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS). 

International cooperation

The Ministry of Social Affairs participates in the following cooperation bodies:

  • World Health Organization (WHO);
  • United Nations (UN);
  • Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (GLG);
  • World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA);
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); and
  • Council of Europe.

An important component of international cooperation in terms of health issues is carried out within WHO’s framework. WHO is the UN specialised agency for health issues tasked with directing and coordinating international health efforts, supporting the member countries’ governments in implementing the best possible health and medical care policies, and acting as the coordinating authority on international health. 

WHO has a governing body called the World Health Assembly (WHA). The WHA addresses a large number of wide-ranging policy matters, sets out the direction for WHO’s health efforts and has a mandate to approve WHO’s Programme budget and programme of work. The WHA meets in May each year. Delegations to the WHA are usually led by the 194 Member States’ health ministers. Sweden is normally represented by ministers, representatives of the Government Offices (the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs), the Directors-General of the National Board of Health and Welfare and the Public Health Agency of Sweden, and representatives of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Swedish Association of Health Professionals and the Swedish Medical Association.

Various WHO meeting agendas are available on the WHO website.

The Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (GLG) has 26 members and consists of world leaders and experts from various sectors working together to accelerate political action on antimicrobial resistance. The GLG was established in 2020 under the United Nations and meets quarterly. Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health Jakob Forssmed is a member of the GLG.