Swedish Prime Minister signals support for European fiscal pact

MALMO, Sweden — Sweden’s Prime Minister has sent a strong signal that he will push Sweden to sign up to the planned fiscal pact to stabilize the euro, leaving Britain looking increasingly isolated among non-euro countries.

Fredrik Reinfeldt said that Sweden would be open to join the pact of seventeen eurozone countries on the condition that Sweden would not be bound by the rules until it decides to adopt the euro as its currency.

“There’s every reason to encourage such demands because it will increase budgetary discipline and counteract the effects of the debt crisis in Europe,” he said, "but it should be for countries which have the euro and not the ones that have chosen to say no to it.”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Prime Minister of Denmark, which like Sweden and Britain remains outside the euro, said this week that she aimed “as much as possible” to join the pact announced in December.

“We are actively participating in the negotiations and we think that the inclusive process which has been chosen is a very good one, not only for the euro countries, not only for the non-euro countries, but for the whole idea of keeping Europe together in a very difficult time,” she told reporters.

The signs that two of the most important European countries are likely to sign the pact will put further pressure on Britain, which vetoed the agreement on tougher eurozone fiscal rules in early December.

Denmark this week held a series of events in Copenhagen, as it took over the rotating presidency of the European Union.

“We do not want a club of 17 or a club of 10, we want an EU of 27,” said Nicolai Wammen, minister for European affairs, giving another strong signal that Denmark would also seek to join.

Reinfeldt’s statement seems to be part of a campaign for Sweden to join the treaty. Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister, on Friday cited the “tremendous benefits” the euro has brought to the European Union.

Goran Persson, the previous Social Democratic Prime Minister, this week argued that Sweden could not afford to isolate itself.

Support from such senior members of Sweden’s opposition may be essential if Mr Reinfeldt, who leads the ruling center-right Moderate Party, is to convince Sweden parliament to vote in favor of signing the treaty.

The Social Democrats at present maintain that joining would be contrary to Sweden’s interests, and contrary to Sweden’s vote to stay out of the euro in 2004.  

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.