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Jimmie Akesson is Leader of the Swedish Democrats.
Much has changed since Sweden’s 1994 referendum regarding EU membership. From a much more limited cooperation between nations it has grown to currently be a supranational power centre led by bureaucrats in Brussels.
From a Swedish perspective, numerous directives and regulations pass through the chamber of parliament each year that in various ways will be implemented into Swedish law. On the local and regional levels alone, an estimated 60- and 50% respectively, of all decisions made are either directly or indirectly affected by the EU.
It would be quite naive to assume it would stop here. Should the bureaucrats and federalists get their way, the traditional nation states risk being wiped from the map only to be replaced by a fully developed federation which will no longer consider the unique sets of circumstances affecting these countries.
The desire of these “Eurocrats” is to replace all forms of nation self-determination and instead create a continent completely controlled by Brussels. Few could have foreseen this current reality at the point of Sweden’s 1994 referendum. Yet at this brink we find ourselves today.
However, there is hope. Hope of another development where decision-making and power can be regained from the Brussels bureaucracy back to the national parliaments. On June 23rd, 2016, the citizens of Great Britain illustrated that there is an alternative direction.
There were many of us hoping for a successful Brexit campaign, and who cheered when the votes had been counted. But the referendum affected not only their own membership. It highlighted and returned the entire EU debate to the political agenda.
The question of our own EU membership has since long been a non-issue. But already since it was apparent that the UK referendum would be held, the debate was highlighted in a completely different fashion. Healthy discussions are now being held, not the least in regards to how democracy has been affected by the EU’s influence.
This is certainly quite positive. Most of our countries joined at a time when the EU was something completely different from today. The debate regarding EU membership now being highlighted is fortunately enough not unique to Sweden. The EU critical opinions are now growing increasingly stronger around Europe and we will hopefully see other countries follow in Great Britain’s footsteps in near future.
My party is very clear, both in terms of the debate in Sweden as well as in our contacts around the world. Sweden should follow Great Britain’s example in giving our citizens the opportunity to re-examine whether the EU should be allowed to keep increasing its supranational bureaucracy, or allow democracy to be returned to our Swedish citizens. The Sweden Democrats would much like our UKIP friends forcefully campaign for an exit.