Sweden’s mandate at the head of the Council of the European Union promises to be particularly difficult, thanks to a mix economic crisis created by the war in Ukraine and a heavy legislative agenda. Getting countries to agree on a multitude of issues as the end of the mandate of the Commission and the European Parliament draws near will require supreme diplomatic skills.
These are the people Europe needs to know before the Swedish Presidency.
Lars Danielsson: chief negotiator
As Sweden’s ambassador to the European Union, Danielsson will steer the Swedish ship through the country’s third EU Council presidency. The career diplomat with more than four decades of experience will lead 200 civil servants in Brussels to tackle some of Europe’s most pressing challenges, including maintaining the bloc’s unity in its support for Ukraine and limiting rising energy prices, along with dozens of other laws. in the making.
Danielsson is no stranger to negotiating European agreements on controversial issues. The former state secretary for European affairs led his country’s first presidency in 2001, when Sweden sought to integrate countries like Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into the EU.
Beyond the EU, Danielsson has gained diplomatic experience in Geneva, the United Nations, Beijing, Hong Kong and Seoul. He is also very familiar with the political corridors of Stockholm: he has twice been a foreign policy adviser to prime ministers.
He will need all that know-how to navigate what will likely prove to be a tricky presidency. As the 2024 European elections approach, the head of Swedish diplomacy in Brussels since 2016 and his teams will have to redouble their efforts to finalize dozens of laws under the leadership of a new government in Stockholm.
“The challenge for us is not to get overwhelmed with crisis management,” Danielsson said at a European Policy Center event in November.
Jessika Roswall: European Prime Minister
Roswall has made her goals clear as Sweden’s new EU affairs minister: to make her country a “leading force to be reckoned with”.
A former family law and criminal lawyer, Roswall was elected to the Swedish parliament by the centre-right Moderate Party in 2010. Rising through the ranks, she became the party’s spokesperson on EU relations. EU in 2019. She’s also passionate (and stylish). listen)) skier who competed for the parliament ski team.
The free trade advocate who became a minister for the first time in October will have little time to prepare for her role as EU president but said she felt ‘as prepared as possible’ . Roswall, which also has northern affairs in its portfolio, will work in the Prime Minister’s Office.
It will seek to advance Sweden’s priorities: strengthening the security of EU citizens; stopping organized crime; accelerate efforts to limit climate change; doubling the competitiveness of the EU; and the protection of the fundamental values of the Union.
Roswall said that even though Sweden is supposed to be impartial, it will be possible “to put a certain national stamp on the presidency and to focus on issues that are in the interest of both Sweden and the EU. Europe”.
But there are fears in Brussels that this “national cachet” may come with a far-right leaning, as Roswall’s coalition government depends on support in parliament from Eurosceptic Swedish Democrats.
Christian Danielsson: veteran EU adviser
As State Secretary to the Minister for European Affairs, Danielsson will act as an adviser to Roswall and work to coordinate the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Danielsson is a veteran of the Brussels bubble: he has worked in all three EU institutions and built up a voluminous contact book in the process.
He was in charge of enlargement, or the acceptance of new member countries into the bloc, during his country’s first presidency in 2001. And he was Sweden’s permanent representative to the EU during the country’s second presidency in 2009.
In 2021, European Council President Charles Michel asked him to become his envoy to oversee sensitive mediation talks in Georgia. to resolve a political standoff between the government and the leaders of the opposition. The negotiated agreement was hailed as a success.
The appointment came after working as Director General of the Commission for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR). He was also deputy chief of staff to European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for relations with Turkey and competitiveness. Before becoming State Secretary, he was Head of the European Commission Representation in Sweden.
Ylva Johansson: bullish commissioner
Sweden’s Home Affairs Commissioner, Johansson, will figure prominently during her country’s presidency. Although she is a social democrat, she has kissed many of Stockholm’s new priorities, from tackling organized crime to securing the European Union’s external borders and helping Ukrainian refugees in the bloc.
Johansson has a good understanding of the inner workings of Swedish politics as a former lawmaker. She was also Minister for Employment and Integration, Minister for Health and Minister for Schools.
In Brussels, she has built a reputation as an optimistic politician, pushing for her records to empower Europol and combat child sexual exploitation material online. Her combative approach worked well: she was instrumental in the Commission’s swift action to secure a landmark agreement granting protections and rights to Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country.
Away from politics, Johansson is an honorary member of Hammarby football club in Stockholm – although she also seems to have a soft spot for Liverpool.
Johansson will also rely on his chief of staff, Åsa Webber. A Brussels insider, Webber started working at the Swedish permanent representation in 2005 and was the deputy permanent representative to the EU from 2014 to 2019.
Gertrud Ingestad: Human Resources Manager
Do you want to get a high and powerful position in the European Commission? It won’t hurt to be on good terms with Gertrud Ingestad, General Manager of Human Resources and Security.
Since 2020, the Swede has overseen the recruitment policy, training and working conditions of around 32,000 permanent and contract employees at the European Commission.
Ingestad first entered the Commission’s door in 1995, when she started as a translator. Before becoming the Commission’s head of human resources, she ran the IT department at a time when 82% of adviser-level staff were men.
She took over as head of human resources the day Belgium entered its first lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic. She has since spearheaded work policy changes to get Eurocrats to say goodbye to their offices – this involves stepping up teleworking and the use of shared offices on open-plan floors.
Some of its objectives have been to increase gender parity within the Commission, increase the use of digital tools and make the institution climate neutral by 2030. As the Commission begins to apply sweeping tech laws like the Digital Services Act, Ingestad will also need to attract the best candidates to do so.
If you come across Ingestad with a shotgun and a pack of hounds, don’t worry (too much). She hunts game birds with her three short-haired Weimaraner dogs: Viktor, Max and Charly.
Jessica Polfjärd, Karin Karlsbro, Sara Skyttedal: The European Parliament Trio
Of Sweden’s 21 representatives in the European Parliament, three EU lawmakers from political parties in the coalition government have worked on crucial laws for Sweden.
Polfjärd (moderates, EPP), Karlsbro (liberals, Renew) and Skyttedal (Christian Democrats, EPP) will be Stockholm’s lifeline in the European Parliament.
Polfjärd has a solid background in Swedish politics. An MP from 2016 to 2019, she was leader of the Moderates group from 2015 to 2017 and twice spokesperson for the party on labor market policy and tax policy.
European legislator for the first time, Polfjärd has established herself as a fierce defender of nuclear power. She is a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and of the delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly. She has also been the main legislator on national climate goals for EU countries and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and is currently working on a law for the circular economy and the second-hand market, as well as a law to make batteries more durable.
Skyttedal (Christian Democrats, EPP) has been working on tougher border rules and a 2022 plan to strengthen Europe’s defense industry through common public procurement. She is a member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy as well as the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. Skyttedal didn’t shy away from making his positions emoji-disengage on Twitter, including on a rumored tax on beloved Swedish tobacco pouches snus. The Commission later clarified that it was not considering imposing such a tax. Before entering politics, Skyttedal was a candidate for Miss Sweden in 2006.
Karlsbro is Trade Coordinator for the Renew Group as a member of the International Trade Committee. She is also vice-president of the delegation for relations with Belarus. She works on the European law on deforestation, a critical dossier for Sweden, and on batteries. Karlsbro’s position in Brussels and at home will be tricky. The Swedish Liberal Party came under heavy criticism within the Renew group after it entered government with the support of the far-right Swedish Democrats. Karlsbro also expressed concerns about Sweden’s Democrats’ views on European politics.
Karlsbro enjoys hiking and protested France’s atomic bomb tests on the South Pacific islands as a youth. She also recently acquired a cat, but family negotiations are currently underway over whether to name her Karsten, Frans, Bilbo or Stefan.
Wilhelmine Preussen, James Randerson and Tristan Fiedler contributed reporting.