EU Storbritannien
Foto: AP Photo/Frank Augstein

EU-UK deal announced

"It is possible that there will be a delay period to get welfare benefits"
6:11 min

Late Friday a "deal" was announced between the UK and the EU over new terms for continued membership in the union. Swedes living in the UK risk losing welfare benefits, but the Swedish government had come out in support of offering concessions to the UK in hopes of forestalling a Brexit.

Late Friday evening the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, announced on his Twitter account that there was unanimous support for a deal. The BBC reported on its website that Downing Street said the deal included a "brake" on welfare payments that can apply for seven years.

"I'm relieved. I'm happy. Finally, we have reached a good agreement," said Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at a press conference after the summit, according to news agency TT.

The deal was announced at the end of two days of talks in Brussels between the UK and EU leaders to renegotiate the terms for a continued British membership in the union. Prime Minister David Cameron had made a series of demands covering different areas, which boil down to economic governance, sovereignty, competitiveness and immigration.

"The UK wants to make sure that the UK government is not completely shut out of what decisions are made in the Eurozone, for instance if there is a financial crisis. But the big controversial question is on migration, the extent to which the UK owes welfare benefits to EU migrants," said Mark Rhinard, professor of international relations at Stockholm University and the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, speaking with Radio Sweden earlier Friday.

The UK wants to put its obligation to give welfare benefits to citizens of other EU member states on hold for up to 13 years, a demand that could potentially affect Swedes living there, says Rhinard.

"It is possible that there will be a delay period by which non-UK citizens will be allowed to get welfare benefits when working in the UK," he says.

However, Rhinard says that the key concern for Sweden is how the UK positions itself when it comes to the economic governance in the Eurozone.

"Sweden, like the UK, is not a member of the Eurozone, so Sweden is also concerned about what rights do non-Eurozone EU members have in voicing their interest in Eurozone governance. In many respects, Sweden has hitched its wagon to the UK over the years and to see what the EU is able to do and how that influences the much larger discussion of whether the UK stays in the EU is very important for Sweden, because Sweden follows in the path of the UK in a lot of top level EU negotiations," Rhinard says.

Some 90,000 live in the UK, according to an estimate by the organisation Swedes Worldwide.

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