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Sweden: Parliament Adopts Law Allowing Receipt of Military Support

On May 18, 2022, the Swedish parliament adopted legislation that will allow Sweden to receive military support from member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Union (EU). The legislation comes as a result of Sweden’s decision to apply for membership to the NATO alliance on May 16, 2022, and will allow Sweden to receive military support from foreign nations and house foreign troops starting May 19, 2022. Background on Swedish Military Alliance Policies Sweden has considered itself militarily non-aligned since King Karl XIV Johan declared his intent to keep Sweden alliance-free in 1818, and it has not been involved in a war since 1814, when it attacked Norway. However, Sweden has maintained a close military relationship with Finland, and Swedish volunteers fought alongside Finns during the Finnish Winter War of 1939–1940 under the slogan “the Finnish cause is ours.” In 2020, the parliament adopted legislation that allows Sweden to receive military support from Finland in the case of war. ( Lag om operativt militärt stöd mellan Sverige och Finland (SFS 2020:782) .) It is this law that is now being amended. According to the government proposal , the new legislation stems from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 of this year [, which] has made it clear that Russia does not consider itself bound by the rule-based world order that Sweden builds its security on. There is a new and deteriorating security situation in Europe. In light of the changes in the security-policy environment, Sweden is reviewing how its own security can be strengthened. In the current situation, certain legislative changes are proposed to speed up the efficiency of Sweden’s opportunities to receive military support. The amendments to the law aim to improve the conditions for Sweden to receive operational military support in the form of military forces from states that are members of European Union or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Content of the Amendment Among other things, the new legislation amends the 2020 law to allow the Swedish government to request military help from NATO or EU countries “if Sweden is at war or facing threat of war … to meet, in accordance with international law, an armed attack against Sweden. The government may for this purpose transfer administrative duties to that state that provides such support.” (Amendment § 2.) Additionally, similar support can also be requested in accordance with international law to “thwart violations of Swedish territory during peacetime or during war between foreign states.” (§ 3.) Even with these changes, Swedish law still distinguishes between its cooperation with Finland and with other countries, as only Finnish citizens can be directly hired or contracted by the Swedish military to protect designated “protected objects.” ( Skyddslagen (SFS 2010:305) .) Expedited Legislative Procedure Parliament adopted the legislation using an expedited procedure in accordance with the government’s proposal of May 16, 2022. The Committee for Foreign Affairs reviewed the legislation on May 17, 2022, and recommended it for adoption, citing the changed security situation in Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The parliament debated the proposal on May 18, 2022, and then passed it using an acclamation procedure. The amendment entered into force on May 19, 2022.

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