SOCIAL AND LABOUR MARKET POLICY IN SWEDEN

Directorate General for Research
Working Document
Social Affairs Series
- W 13 -


CHAPTER 5 - Social Protection

1. Introduction

In Sweden, as in the other Scandinavian countries, social protection is a right for all citizens and everybody is entitled to the same basic amount when faced with a "risk", such as sickness, work injuries or old-age. Persons in paid employment, moreover, may receive supplementary benefits through occupational schemes(112). The Swedish social security system is also characterised by its comparatively high level of compensation and by the fact that the payment of benefits is not in general means-tested(113).

Employers' contributions to the funds for the social insurance schemes are high compared to the other Nordic countries (see figure 1: Nososco, Social Security in the Nordic countries, 1995).

Figure 1:Financing of social security expenditure according to contributions made by public authorities, employers and the insured

The Swedish system of social protection is rather costly with spending amounting to about 40% of GDP in 1992, while the EU average was 27.1% of GDP(114). It is important to note, however, that differences between the countries' systems of social protection make comparisons difficult. Two factors in particular make the Swedish system appear relatively more expensive: many services, such as health care, are provided directly by the public authorities whereas in other countries more services may be provided by private institutions. Moreover, in Sweden, most income transfers and benefits are subject to income taxation, which result in the payment of higher amounts than if no income taxation is to be paid by the recipient(115).

With the economic crisis of the 1990s, the high level of expenditure on social protection became the focus of attention, and reforms have been implemented to cut back expenses. One of the basic problems is the indexation, whereby benefits are increased in accordance with inflation, regardless of the state of economy. During times of economic crisis in particular, indexation puts a strain on the economy as expenses constitute a larger percentage of the GDP. In order to reduce social insurance costs, the old-age pensions scheme will be changed so that pensions are index linked to the economic growth rate instead of to the inflation rate(116). The changes and proposed changes of the social insurance schemes will be dealt with in more detail below.

It should be noted that Sweden, as a member of the European Union, is subject to the rules prohibiting discrimination on grounds of nationality and to the provisions co-coordinating social insurance for migrants. Therefore, certain requirements in Swedish social legislation, such as citizenship or residence, have been subject to modifications in respect of EU citizens living in Sweden.

2. Social Insurance Schemes

2.1. Pensions(117)

Sweden has a relatively high percentage of pensioners compared to the other Nordic countries; 18.1% of the population are old age pensioners, while in Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway the figures are 13.9%, 15.3%, 9.8%, and 14.5% respectively(118). At the same time Swedish pension benefits are comparatively generous; on average the old-age pension replaces around 65% of previous income, a replacement rate surpassed only by Germany with a rate of 73%. In comparison the income replacement rate for old-age pensions was 59% in Denmark, 50% in the Netherlands, and 47% in the United Kingdom.

In order to counter the growing costs of the old-age pension scheme, a pension reform plan was approved by Parliament in June 1994, which will replace the present system over a period of 20 years. The pension reform plan is very complex, but one of the most significant changes is the introduction of employee contributions to the scheme, with the employee and employer paying 50% of the contributions each. The Swedish pension system can be described as a three-tier system. The social insurance system guarantees a basic pension to all pensioners over 65 irrespective of their previous earnings. The social insurance system also includes an earnings-related supplementary pension - the ATP system. These two systems guarantee, as already mentioned, that on average pensions replace around 65% of previous income. The exceptions are the low earners who receive ad hoc supplements, and the high earners whose replacement rate is lower because of an earnings ceiling in the ATP-system. The third tier of pension provision, which is less well- known, consists of schemes arranged by collective bargaining.

The National Basic Pension covers all persons who have either resided in Sweden for at least three years or who have had three years of employment. A full basic pension is payable to persons who have lived in Sweden for 40 years; the pension is reduced proportionally for each year lacking. The pension is not based on previous income and therefore has a re-distributional effect. In 1996 a full basic pension amounted to SEK 34,057 (ECU 4,075), while for a married person the basic pension was SEK 27,849 (ECU 3,332).

The National Supplementary Pension (ATP) was introduced in 1960 and has become the more important of the two pension plans. The size of the ATP depends on years worked and income earned. For a person who has worked for at least 30 years, the pension will amount to 60% of the average pensionable income, calculated as income earned in the 15 years with highest income. The maximum annual pension in 1996 was SEK 138,356 (ECU 16,553). The ATP plan is financed through contributions paid by employers and self-employed persons of 13% of earned income without any upper limit.

A pension supplement is payable to persons who either do not receive any ATP or who are only entitled to a low pension. This pension, which amounts to SEK 19,689 per year (ECU 2,356) ensures that everyone receives a guaranteed minimum pension, composed of the basic pension and pension supplement, amounting to SEK 53,746 (ECU 6,431) per year for a single person with a full earning period, drawing pension from the age of 65.

There are four main schemes arranged by collective bargaining. One is for persons employed by the central government, one for employees of the local government (counties, municipalities and parishes), one for blue-collar workers in the private sector, and one for white-collar workers in the private sector. The purpose of the schemes is to increase the income replacement rate for most workers to 75% of final salary. Earnings above the ATP-ceiling are covered, except in the pension system for blue-collar workers. However, a decision was taken in 1996 to switch to a defined contribution system without a ceiling.

2.2. Sickness and Work Injury Benefits

The sickness and work injury insurance schemes have been substantially reformed in recent years. Until a few years ago, the insurance schemes were very generous with compensation rates at 100% of the income loss(119), but as the costs of these insurance schemes increased substantially during the 1980s it was decided that reforms were necessary to curb costs. The rise in expenses was due to a substantial increase in both short- and long-term absence due to sickness, and in the number of work-related injuries(120).

One of the most important changes to the sickness insurance scheme has been the reduction of the income replacement level. The levels of compensation have been changed a number of times, but from 1st January 1997 compensation is set at a uniform level of 80% of lost income. A waiting period of one day without benefit for each period of illness, including work-related illness, was re- introduced in April 1993(121). Another significant change was the introduction of sick pay in January 1992, which obliged employers to pay compensation for the first 14 days of a sickness period. This reform was intended to encourage employers to take greater interest in the health of their employees(122). From 1st January 1997, the sick pay period has been extended to four weeks(123).

Before the work injury insurance system was reformed, it was relatively easy to have an injury or a disease classified as work-related and so obtain work injury benefit, because the normal burden of proof was reversed and an occupational sickness was broadly defined(124). In 1993 the reverse burden of proof was changed and the concept of an occupational injury tightened(125). In the event of illness resulting from a work injury, benefits are paid according to the ordinary sickness insurance rules for the first 180 days(126). After this period an annuity is paid which, in case of lasting injury and complete incapacity for work, will be a life annuity payable up to the national retirement age. The benefit will, in principle, amount to 100% of the person's lost income, reduced by any basic or ATP pension received but with a ceiling of compensation of SEK 271,500 (ECU 32,482) in 1996(127).

Further reforms to the sickness and work injury insurance schemes may be expected in the future. In June 1996, a Parliamentary Committee submitted a report on possible reform. The Committee proposed the creation of a general insurance scheme covering "all cases of compensation, irrespective of cause and duration, where the capacity to work has been impaired as a result of sickness, injury or functional impediments"(128). In its proposal, the Committee emphasises the importance of preventative measures and active measures for rehabilitation.

2.3. Family Benefits

Family benefits have also been subject to changes in recent years with lowered income replacement rates for pregnancy and parental benefits. The child allowance supplement has been abolished.

2.3.1. Pregnancy and Parental Benefits

Pregnancy benefits are provided for expectant mothers who are unable to continue normal work. The allowance may be paid for up to 50 days during the last two months of pregnancy and at the same rate as sickness benefits, so providing 80% income replacement(129). No pregnancy benefit is paid during the last ten days before the expected date of confinement(130).

The parental benefit allowance gives protection against the loss of income mainly in connection with the birth of a child. The parents are entitled to parental leave for a total of up to 450 days per child until the age of 8 years and the mother may begin to draw parental allowance six weeks before the estimated date of birth(131). Out of the 450 days of leave, 30 days are reserved for the mother and 30 for the father, while the rest of the days can be split as they wish. For the first 60 days the parents receive an allowance with a replacement rate of 85%, while for the next 290 days the compensation is the same as for sickness benefits, namely 80%(132). Collective agreements often provide for a supplement so that the parent's full salary is replaced for up to four months(133). For the last 90 days the parent who is caring for the child receives a standard amount of SEK 60 per day. The same amount is paid, during the whole parental leave, to unemployed persons. Rules also provide that the parental allowance may be paid at one-half or one-quarter of the full amount if the parent takes up work at half or three-quarter time; the number of days is then increased accordingly. Mothers use around 90% of all days for which a parental allowance may be received.

In addition to the parental benefit a temporary parental benefit is paid , at a replacement rate of 80%, for up to 60 days per child annually when a parent must take days off from work in order to take care of a sick child below the age of 12(134).

2.3.2. Child Allowances

A general child allowance of SEK 640 per month is paid for children under the age of 16 residing in Sweden. For children over 16 who attend compulsory school an extended allowance is paid at the same rate. A special benefit for large families with three or more children was abolished on 1 January 1996, but is to be phased out gradually for families drawing the benefit before that date(135).

2.4. Unemployment Benefits

In Sweden there are two types of unemployment benefits: income-related unemployment insurance benefit and flat-rate unemployment benefit. In 1995, 68% of registered unemployed people received the income-related unemployment insurance and 7% received the flat-rate unemployment benefit. Payment of these benefits is conditional on registration with the PES. Moreover, persons eligible for unemployment benefits must be available for work or for participation in a labour market programme(136).

2.4.1. Unemployment Insurance Benefits

The Swedish unemployment insurance system is based on the principle that generous benefits are offered, but for a relatively short period, as it is believed that it is the duration of benefits rather than their size which has an adverse impact on incentives to work(137).

The payment of unemployment benefits is administered by 42 unemployment insurance funds, which have close ties to the unions. The major part of the Swedish labour force belongs to these insurance societies, although membership is voluntary(138).

The unemployment benefits are paid out of an unemployment fund which is financed almost entirely by payroll taxes. Employers are required to pay 2.16% of the total wage bill to the fund, while employees, since January 1994, have to pay 1% of their wage. In order to receive unemployment benefits a person must have been a member of an insurance society for 12 months and have worked for at least 80 days before to claiming benefits.

As a result of the recession the size of unemployment benefits has been reduced in recent years. Until 1993 unemployment benefit could amount up to up to 90% of the insured person's previous income. This was first reduced to 80% and, from 1 January 1996, it was further reduced to 75% of previous income. In addition, benefits can only be received after a waiting period of 5 days and the maximum benefit to be paid has been set at SEK 564 per day(139).

The duration of the benefits is, formally, relatively short as a worker under the age of 55 can receive benefits for a maximum of 300 days. For workers over 55, the maximum duration of the benefits is 450 days. In practice, however, the system allows the payment of benefits for an extremely long, almost indefinite, period of time. Benefits can be prolonged by alternating between periods where unemployment benefits are received and periods of participation in active labour market programmes. Workers have, for example, the right to temporary relief job before their right to unemployment benefits comes to an end. After six months in a relief job, the worker is eligible for another round of unemployment benefits. Likewise, participation in training programmes gives the person a right to receive a new round of benefits. In 1993, the non-socialist government set a maximum limit of two years on the possibility of alternating between different labour market programmes. However, this measure was revoked when the Social Democratic government returned to power(140).

2.4.2. Cash Labour Market Assistance

A separate compensation system covers employees who are not insured by an unemployment insurance fund. This system, known as the cash labour market assistance, is administered by the state authorities and the benefits paid are unrelated to previous income(141). The assistance is paid to persons who have been gainfully employed at least 75 hours per month for at least 5 months at a rate of SEK 230 (ECU 28) per day(142).

If a person is neither eligible for unemployment benefits nor for the cash labour market assistance he may instead be entitled to receive social assistance from local authorities which are outlined below(143).

2.4.3. Changes

It should be noted that the government will put forward a proposal for a reform of the unemployment insurance system in March 1997, based on an agreement between the LO and the Social Democrats. Under these proposals, unemployment insurance will consist of a basic and a supplementary insurance. The benefit level will be restored to 80% of previous income with an increase in the maximum benefit from 1 January 1998 from SEK 564 to SEK 580 per day. On the same day, the basic insurance will be increased from SEK 230 to SEK 240 per day. On the basis of a report to be drawn up, it will later be decided whether to limit the period of unemployment benefits to a maximum of 3 years(144).

3. Health Care(145)

According to the 1982 Health and Medical Services Act people shall be offered health and medical services of good quality, which shall be provided on an equal basis for everyone and be easily accessible. The public health services are available, free or on payment of a fee, to all persons residing in Sweden regardless of nationality and, in cases of emergency, to all patients coming from EU or EEA countries.

Responsibility for providing health services rests primarily with the county councils who operate almost all the services and who also levy taxes to raise the necessary financial resources. Only the care of elderly and disabled people in their homes is the responsibility of the 288 local authorities. The total cost of the Swedish health services, including pharmaceuticals and dental care, was SEK 110 billion in 1993, or 7.6% of GNP. This percentage has since decreased and is expected to decrease still further. The health service sector employs around 300,000 people, or about 10% of all employees in Sweden.

The primary health care sector is concerned with the general health of the people and the treatment of diseases and injuries that do not require hospital treatment. This sector is organised in local health centres, employing different categories of professionals such as doctors, nurses, midwives and physiotherapists. In 1993 the concept of family doctors (general practitioners) was introduced in primary care, so that everyone may now choose a doctor as their own family doctor(146). Primary health care is also provided by private doctors and physiotherapists, at district nurse clinics, children's clinics (vaccinations, health checks and ordinary consultations), and at maternity clinics.

Consultations at the primary health care level are usually subject to a fee, the size of which varies depending on the county council. The fee for consulting a family doctor varies between SEK 60 to SEK 140 per visit, while a consultation with a specialist at a hospital or with a doctor in private practice may cost between SEK 100 and SEK 260. Dental care for all children and young persons under 19 is free of charge. For adults, public dental insurance covers dental care expenses exceeding SEK 700 in any one year.

The responsibility for the hospital also rests with the county councils. Sweden has relatively few but large hospitals: 80 central and district county hospitals and 10 regional hospitals with more specialists and specialised facilities. A few years ago, patients were given the right to choose whom to consult in case of illness, be it the health centre, family doctor or even the hospital. A patient may go to a hospital without any referral from the primary health care services. While in hospital, the patient must pay SEK 80 per day, children under 16 pay nothing. There is, however, a ceiling on payments for medical care and pharmaceuticals of SEK 2,200 in any twelve month period running from the first visit to a doctor, after reaching which the patient is entitled to free care for the remainder of this period.

4. Child Care(147)

Corporal punishment is prohibited and Sweden has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In July 1993, the Office of the Children's Ombudsman was established to safeguard the rights of persons under 18.

Child care services were originally provided only by the municipalities, but today such services may also be offered by co-operatives, foundations, and others, with funding support from the municipalities. In 1992 the private child care services had increased their share to between 7 and 18% of the total child care services. As child care facilities are provided at municipal level they are subject to large regional variations. Overall, the child care sector has been affected by the recession and has suffered cuts, mainly resulting in increased fees and a lowering of standards, with a trend towards larger groups in child care services and lower staffing ratios.

The child care services before school age(148) consist mainly of day care centres (38% of children in the under 6 age group) and family day care (23%). The day care centres in particular have expanded in recent years, as family day care has gradually declined. Parents pay a monthly fee, which is usually dependent on the time spent by the child in the care facility, the parents' income and the number of children in the family. Besides the services already mentioned, there are also part-time groups and open pre-school, which is a drop-in form of activity introduced in 1972.

5. Care for the Elderly

Like in other European countries, Sweden is facing the problems of an ageing population. 17.6% of the population are over 65 years, and the group of persons over 80 is now 48% larger than in 1980. Developments since 1980 and forecasts until year 2020 are illustrated in figure 2.

Figure 2:

Old-age pensioners aged 65 and above
Year% of total populationNumber of individuals
198016.41,360,000
199417.671,540,000
2000 forecast17.01,529,000
2020 forecast20.71,958,200

Old-age pensioners aged 80 and above
Year% of total populationNumber of individuals
19803.2263,000
19944.5408,000
2000 forecast5.1455,000
2020 forecast5.1486,800

In Sweden the main principle concerning the care of the elderly is that citizens should be allowed to remain in their own home as long as possible; in 1996, 92% of the elderly live in ordinary homes. To help the elderly stay in their own homes, the 288 municipalities provide a home help service to help with domestic tasks such as cleaning and cooking. Home nursing schemes are also provided for those who need nursing without outside a hospital or a home for elderly(149). The elderly are charged a fee for the home help services, which varies according to the municipality, number of hours of help, and income.

If the elderly are no longer able to live in their home, since 1992 the municipalities have been responsible for providing alternative forms of housing such as service houses, a form of sheltered accommodation resembling an ordinary flat. People in need of more care may instead stay in old- age homes, nursing homes or in group dwellings. In 1993 fees for services provided for the elderly were introduced, with persons living in special housing paying rent as well as care and service charges. The individual will generally be able to keep a minimum of about one third of his or her income(150).

CHAPTER 6 - Education and Vocational Training(151)

1. Introduction

The Swedish educational system is based on the principle that everybody should have equal opportunities regardless of ethnic background or area of residence(152) and is based on a system of lifelong learning system, emphasizing adult and further education where training is an important part of the general education(153).

One indicator of a country's level of education is the percentage of the population holding a higher educational degree. A recent OECD survey shows that in Sweden a relatively high percentage of the population, 27% of the age group 25-34 years, has a higher educational degree while the average for the OECD countries is 23%, with Canada at 51%, the United States at 32% and Norway at 31% taking the lead(154). Another indicator is the competence of students and adults, compared to other countries. The 1994/95 Third International Mathematics and Science Study showed that Swedish students have gradually improved their score since 1964; out of nine countries, Sweden has improved its position from ninth to sixth. The International Adult Literacy Survey demonstrated that Swedish adults have very high reading skills compared to the seven other countries tested(155).

Swedish education is financed mainly by public funds. In 1993, total public expenditure for the whole of the educational system accounted for around 7.5% of GDP, which makes Sweden one of the countries with the highest spending on education, the OECD average being around 5.8%(156).

2. Compulsory school(157)

In Sweden schooling is compulsory and comprehensive for nine years, from the age of 6 or 7 years. All pupils must take the same subjects in the first years the first years (1-6) at school, with English as a compulsory language from the 3rd or 4th year. During the last school years (7-9), pupils have some optional courses; one option must be a second foreign language (French, German, Spanish(158) or home languages in the case of children with at least one non-Swedish parent). The majority - 50% - is opting for German, while 17% choose French. No marks are given during the first seven years at school.

98% of pupils attend the public schools run by the municipalities, even though it is possible to choose private education. Since the school year 1993/94, it has also become possible to chose a public school outside the home municipality. There is no regulation as to the number of pupils per class; in 1992/93 the average was 22.

The school year covers 40 weeks, with a minimum of 178 and a maximum of 190 school days. Winklerfelt points out that this is a shorter school year than that of countries such as the Netherlands, with 200 school days, and Japan, with 243 days, and at the same time Swedish pupils spend the least time on homework. Nonetheless, as mentioned earlier, international surveys on reading skills and understanding show that Swedish pupils have a relatively high score(159).

3. Upper Secondary Education(160)

Upper secondary education, or gymnasieskolan, has passed through several reforms. The latest was introduced in the school year 1992/93 and was fully implemented by the school year 1995/96(161). These reforms introduced a decentralisation of responsibility and decision-making powers, with municipalities being made responsible for the organisation and implementation of the school programme.

These reforms led to a more uniform upper secondary education. Previously, upper secondary education had consisted of about 25 different programmes, lasting between 2 and 4 years, the new scheme consists of 16 nationally determined programmes, of which 14 are vocational programmes and 2 are programmes preparing for university studies. All programmes last for three years and all programmes cover certain core subjects, such as Swedish, English, Civic Education, Mathematics, and Sports and health studies. The reforms were intended to increase the individual's choice of school and type of study. Each of the national programmes is based on a number of courses in different areas, and courses may be selected from both the programme selected and from other programmes. The vocational programmes are aimed at giving pupils a wider and deeper knowledge than earlier and include experience at a work place for at least 15% of the time.

There are no examinations in upper secondary education, but marks are awarded on the completion of each course and for special project work, with the leaving certificate containing a record of the marks for all courses taken. Upper secondary education has become an education for everyone, as 98% of the pupils having attended the compulsory school now enter 'gymnasieskolan', and only 8% of pupils drop out(162).

4. Higher Education(163)

Sweden has 37 higher education institutions, including 7 universities and a number of small and medium-sized university colleges(164). Three different general degrees are awarded: the diploma or certificate after 2 years of full-time study (högskoleexamen), the Bachelor's degree (kandidatexamen) after at least 3 years study and the Master's degree (magisterexamen) after at least 4 years study. Distance learning has a long tradition in Sweden and a number of higher education studies are offered on this basis(165).

In 1993, higher education in Sweden was reformed in a similar way to upper secondary education: decentralisation with the organisation of studies and the range of courses to be decided locally and increased choice for students regarding study routes were introduced(166). The capacity of higher education institutions was increased significantly; in the academic year 1993/94, the number of students was around 255,000, an increase of 30% compared to the beginning of 1990(167). In 1994 just over 30% of young people in Sweden were in higher education(168).

In Sweden higher education is free of charge and no tuition fees are paid by the students. Students who attend higher education are entitled to receive financial assistance from the government, in the form of student grants and loans. The student grant, which is non-repayable, amounted to up to SEK 17,100 per academic year in 1994, while the repayable loan amounted to up to SEK 44,600.

5. Adult Education and Vocational Training

An important feature of the Swedish educational system is the principle of lifelong learning. The need for life-time learning, training and retraining has been accentuated by the present high level of unemployment together with changes regarding the organisation of enterprises, where frequent changes at the workplace require the employees to be flexible and adaptable(169). In response to this need, the Swedish government has allocated more funding to adult education and vocational training. A 5-year programme which will provide an increase in the general educational level begins in autumn 1997 which will provide 10,000 more places in education every year from 1997 to 2000. A programme for professional training, starting in autumn 1996, provided 1,500 new educational places in 1997 and a further 4,300 in 1998(170).

5.1. Adult Education(171)

Under the Education Act, the public school system for adults covers general adult education, adult education for the mentally handicapped, and Swedish instruction for adult immigrants. Responsibility for these forms of adult education rests mainly with the municipalities. Other forms of adult education are organised by high schools and adult education associations.

The most important forms of adult education, counted by the number of participants, are the general municipal adult education with 211,000 pupils in 1995/96, and tuition for immigrants with 51,500 pupils in 1995/96. The municipal adult education includes education at levels equivalent to the general school system's basic education, upper secondary education and supplementary education. This system of adult education is very flexible. Students are free to choose their own study programme: they may follow a single course, study part-time or full-time, during the day or evening, and so can combine their studies with employment.

To encourage more adults to improve their educational qualifications, a special educational assistance system takes effect from 1 July 1997, allowing principally unemployed persons to follow basic education or upper secondary education for a maximum of one year while receiving an amount equivalent to either unemployment insurance benefit or to the cash labour market assistance(172).

5.2. Vocational Training

As part of the Swedish government's active labour market programmes, vocational training is offered to unemployed persons or persons in danger of losing their jobs (see above, Chapter 2, section 3.2.2.). Training and retraining activities are organised by the national employment training agency (AMU), which coordinates about 100 training centres. Specific measures for the requalification of persons working in declining sectors, such as textiles and shipbuilding have been introduced, with a view to developing sectors with a more promising future, such as transport and services. In 1994, about 50 000 persons (full-time-equivalents) received vocational training(173).

In addition to public vocational training system, companies organise job-related training. Although this training is privately financed, the State provides grants to help initiate and support such training(174).

CHAPTER 7 - Sweden and the EU

1. Introduction

Sweden became a member of the European Union with Finland and Austria on 1 January 1995. This was the final stage of a process which had begun in the late 1980s when Sweden sought to establish closer relations with the other European countries. This process marked a significant change, or to some a revolution, in Swedish policy towards Europe(175). From the early 1960s Swedish membership of the European Community had been regarded as impossible in view of Sweden's neutrality policy and its wish to maintain sovereignty over crucial aspects of Swedish society, such as the organisation of the welfare state and industrial relations. Sweden's desire to engage in closer co-operation with the European countries in the early 1990s should be seen in the light of inter alia the need to improve the position of Swedish industry and the changes in relations with the Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Sweden formally lodged an application for membership of the European Community in July 1991. A first step towards accession was taken with the agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA), which extended the internal market of the Community to most of the EFTA countries. A referendum on Sweden's accession to the European Union held in November 1994 turned out in favour of membership with 52.3% for and 46.8% against(176).

2. Effects of Membership

Sweden's accession to the European Union has no direct effect on the Swedish provisions on social protection (see Chapter 5), as Articles 117-122 of the Treaty of Rome as well as Protocol (No. 14) on Social Policy to the Maastricht Treaty, do not provide the Community with any competence to adopt legislative acts harmonising the Member States' social legislation. The same applies to education and vocational training (see Chapter 6), because even though the EC Treaty contains a Chapter on Education, Vocational Training and Youth (Arts. 126-127), it is expressly stated in Article 126 that the Member States maintain full responsibility "for the content of teaching and the organisation of education systems".

Although Sweden maintains control over the contents of its social legislation as well as its legislation on education and vocational training, EC provisions on free movement of persons and freedom of services may have certain repercussions on social and educational law. These fields of law are subject to the Community principle that discrimination on grounds of nationality is prohibited. Thus citizens of the Union should enjoy the same rights as Swedish nationals not only regarding "employment, remuneration and other conditions of work and employment" (see Art. 48(2)), but also regarding access to education and the right to receive social benefits. The general principle of non-discrimination as well as the detailed rules contained in Regulation No. 1408/71 on social security benefits have required the amendment of some Swedish provisions reserving certain rights and benefits to Swedish nationals or to individuals domiciled in Sweden.

Turning to the labour market, the EC Treaty and the Social Protocol annexed to the Maastricht Treaty provide the Community with competence to adopt legislative provisions concerning: the health and safety of workers, working conditions, the information and consultation of workers, equality between men and women and the integration of persons excluded from the labour market. So far, Community provisions comprise mainly a number of minimum rules for the protection of the health and safety of workers, including the Working Hours Directive, and some provisions ensuring equal rights for men and women regarding employment and remuneration. As regards the information and consultation of workers, only the Directive on European Works Council has been adopted. Due to the high level of protection generally afforded to workers in Sweden, and in view of the relatively advanced provisions on equality it has only been necessary for Sweden to make minor changes in labour market legislation.

It seems that Sweden will be able to maintain its tradition of regulating the labour market by way of collective agreements as Sweden was assured by the Commission during the Swedish accession negotiations, that the Social Protocol to the Treaty on European Union would not require any change to existing Swedish practice concerning the labour market and collective agreements between the social partners(177).


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Munzinger-Archiv/IH-Länder aktuell 7/96, Soziales und Kultur, 1996

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OECD, Education at a Glance, Analysis, 1996

OECD, Education at a Glance, OECD Indicators, 1996

OECD, OECD Economic Surveys - Sweden, 1995

OECD, OECD Economic Surveys - Sweden, 1994

Premfors, R., The 'Swedish Model' and Public Sector Reform in "Understanding the Swedish model", West European Politics (special issue), July 1991, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 83-95

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Scherman, K. G., The current situation in the Swedish economy and the process for renewal in the social security, Warsaw, February 16, 1995

Social Europe, Employee Representatives in Europe and their Economic Prerogatives, suppl. 3/96, the European Commission

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The Europa World Yearbook, 1995, vol. II

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The Swedish Institute, Equality between Men and Women in Sweden, Fact Sheets on Sweden, December 1994

The Swedish Institute, Facts and Figures on Youth in Sweden, Fact Sheets on Sweden, September 1995

The Swedish Institute, Family Planning in Sweden, Fact Sheets on Sweden, October 1994

The Swedish Institute, Higher Education in Sweden, Fact Sheets on Sweden, November 1994

The Swedish Institute, Labour Relations in Sweden, Fact Sheets on Sweden, April 1996

The Swedish Institute, Social Insurance in Sweden, Fact Sheets on Sweden, November 1995

The Swedish Institute, Swedish Labor Market Policy, Fact Sheets on Sweden, December 1995

The Swedish Institute, The Care of the Elderly in Sweden, Fact Sheets on Sweden, August 1996

The Swedish Institute, The Health Care System in Sweden, Fact Sheets on Sweden, May 1996

The Swedish Institute, Upper Secondary and Adult Education in Sweden, Fact Sheets on Sweden, March 1995

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Watson Wyatt, Employment Terms and Conditions, DataServices, Europe, (1995)

Winklerfelt, M., EU, Sverige och utbildningen, 2nd ed., Publica, (1995)


European Parliament: 07/1997