This content was published in the period between 21 January 2019 and 8 July 2021

Multilateral cooperation

Photo: Marcus Björkman/Regeringskansliet

The European Union

Sweden’s starting point in work in the EU is that Europe needs to take greater responsibility for its own security in a way that strengthens both the EU and its Member States, and its capability to cooperate with strategic partners.

The shared objective of EU security and defence cooperation is the development of a better overall European defence capability, and for the EU to be able to carry out the whole spectrum of civilian and military crisis management operations.

The website of the European Council

The European Intervention Initiative (EI2)

In 2019, Sweden joined the French-initiated defence cooperation, the European Intervention Initiative (EI2). This cooperation is aimed at developing a common strategic culture among the participating countries and thus a European capability to take action in crisis management operations. The cooperation contributes to strengthening security and defence policy cooperation in Europe.

The Framework Nations Concept (FNC)

In 2018, Sweden joined the initiative for European capability development, the Framework Nations Concept (FNC). The cooperation is led by Germany and includes some 20 countries. It encompasses projects in various areas, such as medical care, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, civilian-military collaboration and logistics.

The Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF)

In addition to the United Kingdom and Sweden, the JEF includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway. The JEF cooperation increases the capability of the Swedish Armed Forces to cooperate with other countries and shows that the countries are prepared to take action together. In 2019, the JEF countries agreed that the stated security policy context in which the JEF is to act is a grey zone situation in the Baltic Sea and northern area, i.e. a condition between peace and war that is characterised by uncertainty and a lack of clarity.

In light of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, the relevance of JEF cooperation has further increased. It is important to maintain and develop the cooperation with the United Kingdom with the aim of securing its continued engagement in Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea region.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

Sweden and Finland simultaneously handed in their official letters of application to join NATO on 18 May 2022. The partnership with NATO is an important part of Swedish security and defence policy. This partnership is key to the development of the  capabilities of the Swedish Armed Forces, both for national defence and conducting operations in our neighbourhood and beyond. Swedish participation in NATO exercises sends a signal that Sweden takes responsibility for security in our neighbourhood and also contributes to increasing Swedish Armed Forces capabilities and opportunities to cooperate with others. Sweden’s status as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner (EOP) creates the opportunity for a customised partnership based on Sweden’s and NATO’s shared interests.

The website of NATO 

The Northern Group

The Northern Group is a defence policy forum initiated by the United Kingdom in 2010 and includes the Nordic and Baltic countries as well as Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom. The Northern Group normally meets at defence minister level and policy director level. The Northern Group is an important forum for raising and facilitating coordination in security and defence policy issues of mutual interest.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

Work within the OSCE’s military policy dimension is not defence cooperation as such, but it involves military confidence- and security-building. For example, Sweden participates in the efforts to develop the Vienna Document, which promotes the exchange of military information between OSCE participating states.

Sweden is a state party to the Open Skies Treaty to increase military transparency and predictability. The treaty has a strong link to the OSCE and is a confidence-building instrument that enables participating countries to conduct surveillance flights over each other’s territories.

The website of OSCE

Other Nordic countries/The Nordic defence cooperation (NORDEFCO)

In Sweden, there is broad political consensus on deepening cooperation with the Nordic countries. In addition, there is political consensus to further deepen and broaden the Nordic defence cooperation, NORDEFCO, with the aim of strengthening Sweden’s military capabilities for national and international crisis management. Sweden, together with the Nordic countries, will address new strategic threats and challenges, globally and in our neighbourhood. The cooperation has a positive effect on security in our neighbourhood and enables the Nordic countries to jointly take greater responsibility for regional security.

In 2018, the Nordic defence ministers agreed on the new Nordic Defence Cooperation Vision 2025. The Vision states that the Nordic countries have different security policy affiliations, but face the same challenges and must therefore strive for close, effective and cost-efficient cooperation to strengthen our national defence and capability to take joint action. According to the Vision, the countries are to maintain close security and defence policy dialogue, and strengthen cooperation in the area of defence in times of peace, crisis and in the event of conflict.

The website of NORDEFCO