The company says it must save 4.5 billion SEK in the next two years. "The conditions we have today require us to further improve our efficiency and strengthen our financial position," wrote CEO Øystein Løseth.
The layoffs will affect about 1,500 employees in Germany, about 500 in the Netherlands, 400 in Sweden, and 50 in Vattenfall’s other markets.
When Johan Palmqvist, chair of the union's negotiating branch, spoke to Swedish Television he had not yet heard of the layoffs.
"Both employees and Swedish citizens are having to pay the cost here. This is money that very well could have gone to the Swedish state and to child and elderly care. That is what state companies should do," he said, adding that he was "very upset" by the company's announcement.
Vattenfall has come under much criticism for buying Dutch utility company Nuon in 2009 for a record 97 billion SEK. After the purchase, which was overseen by the Swedish government, Nuon's value has been written down by 15 billion SEK.