Sweden should seek more exemptions from EU laws as part of a reset in relations with the 27-member bloc, the head of the Sweden Democrats, the country’s second largest party and an informal part of the government, said on Tuesday.
Echoing criticism from eurosceptics across the continent, Jimmie Akesson said the European Union’s ever-expanding power meant “German, Polish or French politicians, in practice decide what car you can buy, how expensive petrol should be and which tree you can cut down on your own property.”
Akesson, whose anti-immigration party has a big influence over Sweden’s right-of-center government, stopped short of calling for “Swexit” - a vote on whether to leave the European Union as British voters did in 2016.
But he said the EU was heading in the wrong direction.
“Today, there are good reasons to seriously re-evaluate our membership in the union,” Akesson wrote in daily Aftonbladet. “Our general elections in Sweden will soon cease to have any significance in Sweden’s development. Naturally, we can’t allow that to happen.”
Akesson warned the EU might impose more liberal immigration policies on Sweden, which has taken an increasingly tough line in recent years on asylum applications.
Swedes are among the most positive in Europe regarding EU membership, with 68 percent in support, according to a survey by Gothenburg University in March. The country last year applied to join the NATO military alliance, which includes most EU members.
The Sweden Democrat’s EU-sceptic stance was long seen as an obstacle to their acceptance into the political mainstream and the party dropped that demand in 2018.
In last year’s general election, they got 20.5 percent of the vote. Their support was crucial in enabling the minority Moderate, Christian Democrat and Liberal coalition to take power.
As part of the deal, the Sweden Democrats have been able to exercise considerable influence on policy, pushing for tougher immigration rules and watered-down ambitions on climate change.
The Sweden Democrats have threatened to bring down the coalition if it doesn’t cut taxes on fuels and stand up to the EU over asylum quotas.