Sweden hits deadlock over new defence spending plans

Cross party political talks in Sweden addressing future defence funding have collapsed, following disagreement over whether additional money should be approved.

The Swedish government will not commit to any extra funding for the 2026-2030 period until the economic impact of COVID-19 can be better assessed, despite opposition parties pushing for up to SEK5 billion ($536 million) per year more.

Negotiations on the matter had been in motion for a number of months ahead of the forthcoming Defence Bill, set to be presented to parliament in September by Peter Hultqvist, Sweden’s minister of defence, but talks are now on hold.

‘Thinking [about] COVID, the government is reluctant to make any promises for 2026 and 2027,’ a spokesperson for the Swedish ministry of defence said in a statement.

It remains unclear when negotiations will restart, but Shephard understands that the Swedish government could see fit to wait up to two years before making a firm decision about approving additional funding or not.

Despite the current impasse, the government has already reached an agreement with the Centre and Liberal parties to increase defence funding from 2021-2025, with an additional SEK78.3 billion ($8.4 billion) to be made available over the five years.

New proposals due to be put before parliament by Hultqvist include doubling conscription training numbers from 4,000 to 8,000, a restructuring of the Swedish Army with three mechanised brigades and a request to introduce a smaller motorized brigade based on Gotland island.

Future aviation plans to maintain Saab Gripen C/D fighter jets and investment in new Gripen E models will also allow Sweden to continue to use six fighter squadrons, while it is also committed to the Tempest future combat air system following an agreement with the UK in July 2019.

A new Swedish national cyber security centre will also be setup this year aimed primarily at preventing and detecting cyber threats and mitigating cyber vulnerabilities. 

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