Sweden Policy Influencer

Background: Swedish System of Government

In Sweden, general elections are held every four years, with the last one held in September 2014. Around 7 million people are entitled to vote and thereby influence which political party will represent them in the Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament), county councils and municipalities. The Riksdag makes the decisions and the Government implements them. The Government also submits proposals for new laws or law amendments to the Riksdag.

The Government rules Sweden by implementing the decisions of the Riksdag and by formulating new laws or law amendments, on which the Riksdag decides. The Government is assisted in this task by the Government Offices and some 360 government agencies.

People can also influence Swedish politics in other ways – by taking part in referendums, joining a political party or commenting on reports presented by the Government. A total of six national referendums have been held in Sweden. These polls are consultative in character and the Riksdag may reach decisions that run counter to their outcome.

Sweden has three levels of domestic government: national, regional and local. In addition, the European level has become increasingly important since Sweden joined the EU in 1995:

  • At the regional level, Sweden is divided into 20 counties. Political tasks at this level are undertaken by the county councils. The county councils are responsible for overseeing tasks that cannot be handled at the local level by municipalities but which rather require coordination across a larger region, most notably health care. The county councils are entitled to levy income taxes to cover their costs. At the regional level there are also county administrative boards, the government bodies for the counties.
  • At the local level, Sweden is divided into 290 municipalities, each with an elected assembly or council. Municipalities are responsible for a broad range of facilities and services including housing, roads, water supply and waste-water processing, schools, public welfare, elderly care and childcare. The municipalities are entitled to levy income taxes on individuals. They also charge for various services. As a result, municipalities have significant latitude in deciding what services they should offer. They are however legally obliged to provide certain basic services.

Background: Counties of Norrbotten and Västerbotten

The County of Norrbotten is Sweden’s largest county and covers about a quarter of Sweden, but the population is only about 250,000 in 14 municipalities/local authorities. The county has room for Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg within its boundaries. With an average population density is 2,6 inhabitants per square kilometre, Norrbotten is one of the most sparsely populated regions within the EU. The County of Västerbotten has about 264 000 inhabitants in 15 municipalities and an area of about 15 500 km2

This Policy Influcencer Workshop have been held on 31st of May 2017, Luleå, as part of the RECENT project. The workshop participants discussed the following points:

  • Where do we stand in Norrbotten today regarding energy transition ? Obstacles and opportunities.
  • How do we finance energy measures? Opportunities today and policy decisions for the future.
  • How is Norrbotten influenced of European and national decision-making in energy and climate and how do Norrbotten actors raise their needs on European level?.

Difficulties and Issues Identified by Participants

Municipalities in Norrbotten are few and have limited capacities in terms of staff, knowledge and money. Long distances and sparsely population make collaboration difficult as they are time- and cost intensive. This results in some key problems in the RECENT context:

  • Difficulties to implement energy & climate actions due to the lack of money.
  • Difficulties to raise money in any other way due to the lack of time-capacity and know-how; project applications are often time-consuming.
  • Difficulties to influence policy making for improving the situation due to a lack of time and know-how.

Capacity building, improved collaboration in a Multi-Level-Governance approach is key to give communities a voice and possibilities to play an active role in energy transition. RECENT project partner Jokkmokk will collaborate with other projects and stakeholders working in the same field to

Increase capacities of municipalities on fundraising by organising short and compact trainings to be as effective as possible to increase understanding of project logic and to empower communities in benefitting from existing instruments.
Act as an ambassador for the pilot projects in the MLG process for the regional energy and climate strategy and the EU policies, specifically on the next funding period..

Below is a video from the Policy Influencer Workshop held in Sweden. (In Swedish)