“Our asylum system is under enormous pressure”

Interview with Elisabeth Svantesson at the Parliamentary European Forum

, by Michael Vogtmann

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“Our asylum system is under enormous pressure”
Elisabeth Svantesson. © Ingrid Wall / Link/ CC BY-SA 3.0-Lizenz

After the discussion at the Parliamentary European Forum in Berlin the correspondent for TreffpunktEuropa/theNewFederalist had the chance to interview two of the panellists. Interesting insights on the refugee crisis from Swedish politician Elisabeth Svantesson and a member of the GPPI think tank, Julian Lehmann.

TNF: What is going on in Swedish society and politics regarding refugees? Can you give us an impression?

Elisabeth Svantesson: Our asylum system has been under severe pressure. At the moment we are focusing on temporary solutions, but we need more than that. We had to tighten the asylum system with temporary residence permits, among other measures. The Moderate Party finds this to be necessary. These decisions have been difficult for the Swedish Government. Just to give you an impression. A minister from the Green Party, which is a part of the Swedish government, cried when she took part in the official announcement of the measures.

TNF: Is Sweden actively involved in the current relocation plans of the European Union? And if yes, how?

Elisabeth Svantesson: In fact we are, together with Italy and Greece, among the countries that have been promised to get help from the EU. A quota of the 160 000 refugees in Sweden, I can’t remember the exact number, was promised to be relocated to other European countries..

TNF: At the discussion you said that a disproportionately high number of refugees had been coming to Sweden and as an example you mentioned Portugal having not taken many refugees in. Well last month I was at a conference and there was an MEP from Portugal. She said that in Portugal there have been 4 000 places prepared for refugees. They are ready, but no refugees come.

Elisabeth Svantesson: This is actually interesting information for me. I didn’t know about that.

TNF: Your party is part of the European People’s Party family, like the CDU of Angela Merkel. Do you have an opinion on her refugee policy?

Elisabeth Svantesson: To Sweden, it is vital to have a good cooperation with Angela Merkel and Germany in a number of political issues, including immigration policy. Our countries have a lot in common. Today, it is clear that the EU needs Germany in order to reach an agreement.

TNF: Do you think we will see a shift in policy in the future, like we have seen in Sweden?

Elisabeth Svantesson: I see a shift in the German policy regarding these issues, just as in Sweden. It has become too difficult for our countries to maintain immigration on this scale.

Elisabeth Svantesson: Karin Elisabeth Svantesson has been a member of the Swedish Parliament since 2006. From 2013 till 2014 she was Minister for Employment. She is a member of the ’New Moderate Party’ (Nya Moderaterna), which belongs to the conservative European People’s Party family. Since 2014 Sweden has been governed by a minority coalition of Social Democrats and Greens.
This interview was conducted for TNF by Michael Vogtmann following the Parliamentary European Forum on the 16th March 2016 in Berlin.


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