On 8 September, the Riksdag decided to grant the Government greater rights to give and receive operational military support within the framework of defence cooperation between Sweden and Finland.
The Government will be able to take decisions on matters such as assisting Finland militarily to prevent violations of Finnish territory, and receiving military support from Finland to prevent violations of Swedish territory or respond to an armed attack against Sweden. Decisions to assist Finland militarily to respond to an armed attack against Finland must still be approved by the Riksdag.
The enhanced defence cooperation between Sweden and Finland is intended to strengthen Sweden’s and Finland’s national defence and the countries’ capabilities for joint military action.
“The enhanced defence cooperation with Finland is based on similar interests, values and priorities. The legislative proposals now adopted by the Riksdag deal with creating the conditions necessary for implementing defence cooperation with Finland,” says Minister for Defence Peter Hultqvist.
-- Enhanced cooperation with Finland of particular importance
Defence cooperation with Finland is of particular importance to Sweden’s defence and security policy, and has become even more important in light of security policy developments in our neighbourhood.
Finland and Sweden share geostrategic interests and have a common view of the security policy challenges in the Baltic Sea region. Both countries’ security policies are based on a strong national military capability in combination with the principle that security is built together with other countries and organisations.
Cooperation has deepened so that it also covers bilateral operational planning and preparations for the joint use of civilian and military resources in a variety of scenarios, including scenarios beyond peace.
An inquiry appointed in 2017 was tasked with reviewing certain parts of the legal conditions for Sweden’s defence cooperation with Finland. In April 2018, the inquiry presented its report, ‘An act on operational military support between Sweden and Finland’ (SOU 2018:31).
-- New legislation enables faster decisions
In March 2020, the Government presented a bill to the Riksdag based on the inquiry’s proposals. The aim of the legislative proposals includes enabling faster decisions on providing and receiving operational military support within the framework of Swedish-Finnish defence cooperation.
The central legislative proposal is greater rights for the Government to give and receive operational military support within the framework of defence cooperation between Sweden and Finland. The proposal means that the Government will be authorised to:
-- deploy Swedish armed forces to assist Finland in preventing violations of Finnish territory; and
-- receive military support in the form of military forces from Finland, in part to prevent violations of Swedish territory and in part to respond to an armed attack against Sweden.
The bill also contains certain legislative proposals considered necessary to create the conditions for Finnish forces to provide support in Sweden. Decisions to deploy Swedish armed forces to help Finland respond to an armed attack against Finland must still be approved by the Riksdag, since this could lead to Sweden entering into a state of war.
-- Agreement on host nation support
Apart from the current legislative proposals, further steps in the cooperation will be taken through the agreement on host nation support now being negotiated with Finland. One such agreement deals with deciding in advance the practical, administrative and legal conditions to enable Swedish and Finnish units to operate in each other’s territory.