The foreign policy of Sweden
is based on the premise that national security
is best served by staying free of alliances
in peacetime in order to remain a neutral country
in the event of war
. In 2002, Sweden revised its security doctrine. The security doctrine still states that "Sweden pursues a policy of non-participation in military alliances," but permits cooperation in response to threats against peace and security. The government
also seeks to maintain Sweden's high standard of living. These two objectives require heavy expenditures for social welfare, defense spending at rates considered high by Western European
standards (currently around 2.2% of GNP), and close attention to foreign trade opportunities and world economic cooperation.
Sweden participates actively in the United Nations
, including as an elected member
of the Security Council
(1957-1958, 1975-1976 and 1997-1998), and other multilateral organizations. The strong interest of the Swedish Government
and people in international cooperation and peacemaking has been supplemented in the early 1980s by renewed attention to Nordic
After the then Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson
had submitted Sweden's application in July 1991 the negotiations began in February 1993. Finally, on January 1
, 1995, Sweden
became a member of the European Union
. While some argued that it went against Sweden's historic policy of neutrality, where Sweden had not joined during the Cold War
because it was incompatible with neutrality, others viewed the move as a natural extension of the economic cooperation that had been going on since 1972 with the EU. Sweden addressed this controversy by reserving the right not to participate in any future EU defense alliance. In membership negotiations in 1993-1994, Sweden also had reserved the right to make the final decision on whether to join the third stage of the EMU
"in light of continued developments." In a nationwide referendum in November 1994, 52.3 percent of participants voted in favour of EU membership. Voter turnout was high, 83.3 percent of the eligible voters voted. The main Swedish concerns included winning popular support for EU cooperation, EU enlargement, and strengthening the EU in areas such as economic growth, job promotion, and environmental issues.
In polls taken a few years after the referendum, many Swedes indicated that they were unhappy with Sweden's membership in the EU. However, after Sweden successfully hosted its first presidency of the EU in the first half of 2001, most Swedes today have a more positive attitude towards the EU. The government, with the support of the Center Party, decided in spring 1997 to remain outside of the EMU, at least until 2002. A referendum was held september 14 2003. The results were 55.9% for no, 42.0% yes and 2.1% giving no answer ("blank vote").
Swedish foreign policy has been the result of a wide consensus. Sweden cooperates closely with its Nordic neighbors, formally in economic and social matters through the Nordic Council of Ministers
and informally in political matters through direct consultation.
Swedish governments have not defined nonalignment as precluding outspoken positions in international affairs. Government leaders have favored national liberation movements that enjoy broad support among developing world countries, with notable attention to Africa. During the Cold War
, Sweden was suspicious of the superpowers, which it saw as making decisions affecting small countries without always consulting those countries. With the end of the Cold War, that suspicion has lessened somewhat, although Sweden still chooses to remain nonaligned. Sweden has devoted particular attention to issues of disarmament, arms control, and nuclear nonproliferation and has contributed importantly to UN and other international peacekeeping efforts, including the NATO-led peacekeeping forces in the Balkans. It sits as an observer in the Western European Union
and is an active member of NATO
's Partnership for Peace
and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
International organization participation