Sweden’s security must be seen in a broader perspective


Prime Minister Stefan Löfven.
Photo: Kristian Pohl/Regeringskansliet

The new security situation, the growing political power rivalries and the broader security policy developments place new demands on the State’s capacity to safeguard the security of Sweden’s inhabitants. They also place new demands on strategic thinking over longer periods, and a better understanding of security developments, around the world as well as in our own country.

The security policy situation in our region has deteriorated over the past few years, particularly following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. We have received reports of foreign underwater activities in Sweden’s territorial waters, and we have seen a significant increase in military activity around the Baltic Sea. International terrorism affects an increasing number of innocent civilians. Climate change is becoming increasingly tangible, with more dramatic weather events and more regional conflicts that force people to flee. We are more susceptible to disruptions in vital public services – electricity grids, railways, water supply. Information technology, which has improved most people’s lives, has also created new vulnerabilities that can be exploited by both States and individuals.

In addition, security issues must now be viewed from a broader perspective than previously. This has shaped the work of the Government’s security policy council that I established after taking up my post as prime minister. The broad concept of security also forms the basis of the national security strategy that the Government will present today when the Folk och Försvar Annual National Conference convenes in Sälen.

For the first time, a Swedish Government is now systematising its view of Sweden’s security in a broad sense. The security strategy proceeds from our security objectives, determines the direction and sets the framework for the work needed to safeguard our security and to place the common resources where they do the most good. In the strategy, the Government defines the national interests that guide our security efforts. The strategy also takes up the fundamental – and inalienable – values that underpin our security. Based on these interests and values, the strategy analyses eight primary threats that challenge our capacity to protect our population and our country.

Military threats

It remains unlikely that a single armed military attack will directly target Sweden. But crises and incidents that include military force can never be ruled out. Our non-participation in military alliances serves us well and contributes to stability and security in northern Europe. At the same time, we are deepening our various defence and security policy cooperation forums. Sweden is now strengthening its defence after many years of cut backs, and creating modern and coherent total defence planning, including a psychological defence tailored to the current situation.

Information and cyber security

The cyber threat is serious and tangible. US authorities recently reported that they have evidence that the latest presidential election was unduly influenced by operations directed from Russia. Sweden too can be subjected to such attempts to exert influence. At the same time as we continue to develop our capacity to make use of all the possibilities that digitalisation provides, we must also develop our capacity to reduce vulnerability, resist efforts to exert influence and strengthen our information and cyber security.

Terrorism and violent extremism

Most terrorist attacks are committed outside of Europe’s borders, but developments show that Europe is increasingly being subjected to terrorism. Several of our neighbouring countries have been severely affected, and terrorism is an imminent threat in Sweden as well. The Swedish strategy against terrorism is based on preventing, averting and impeding. Individuals at risk must be identified before they are radicalised. The police and other public authorities must have proper resources and capabilities to avert terrorism.

Organised crime

Organised crime is becoming more malicious, more extensive and more menacing. Trafficking in human beings, weapons and drugs are everyday activities for professional criminals. Some networks have both the intention and the ability to disrupt fundamental democratic processes. There is a need for preventive measures at an early age and an increased police presence. Work to combat illegal weapons and explosives will continue. Especially sustained measures are needed in areas particularly prone to crime.

Threats to energy supply

Disruptions in the supply of electricity, fuel, gas and heat may result in serious consequences for people’s lives and health, and also to the functioning of society. A secure and robust energy system must be based on a diverse energy mix, safe transportation and efficient energy markets. Reduced dependence on fossil fuels will improve the security of supply.

Threats to transportation and infrastructure

Disruptions and loss of resources such as fuels, electricity supply, vehicle provision and IT/telecommunications are associated with particular risks. Ensuring that transportation vital to society is robust and replaceable is of utmost importance. This particularly applies to our food security. The perimeter security concerning key parts of the transport infrastructure must be improved.

Health threats

Communicable diseases pose threats to the health of the population, as do other types of biological and chemical threats. These could be in the form of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms, but also radioactive, biological and chemical weapons. One particularly severe threat to modern medical care is the increased resistance to antibiotics. Sweden must have contingency plans that involve regular training, and resources for managing various kinds of health threats, such as influenza pandemics.

Climate change

Even today, climate change threatens the population and existence of certain States. In no other area is the need for preventive measures more apparent. Sweden will strengthen its leading role in international cooperation to curb climate change. This is reinforced by our national policy for reduced fossil emissions, and our development aid focus on reducing the global greenhouse gas emissions.

Implementation of the national security strategy requires the involvement of Swedish society as a whole. Therefore, active participation by public authorities, private individuals, the business community and civil society is of crucial importance to preventing and managing crises.

However, the overall responsibility rests with the Government, and all ministries will base their work on the strategy as the next step is taken and work on various initiatives is pursued. We must be better able to safeguard total defence interests in various areas of society. Therefore, a regulatory review will be carried out to ensure that strategic security decisions do not become municipal or private standpoints, but national decisions. At the same time, there is reason to consider how to best carry out the business sector’s security work focusing on crucial social technology and services of strategic interest to Sweden.

Most issues related to Sweden’s security have attracted broad majorities in the Riksdag. I feel that it should also be possible to achieve a broad consensus in the work to realise the content of this strategy. Stronger Swedish security is not created by political games and tactical manoeuvring, but rather through the pursuit of consensus and cooperation in the best interests of the country.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven