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Last Updated: Monday, 9 June, 2003, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
UK boost for Swedish sceptics
By Lars Bevanger
BBC, Stockholm

Few of the shoppers at a Stockholm food market on Monday had registered the British Government's wait-and-see decision on the euro.

But many were interested when told about it, because they themselves will be voting on Swedish euro membership in September this year.

Stockholm street scene
A majority in Sweden still oppose the euro
One man said he was happy with the UK decision. He represents the majority of Swedes who say they will vote No in September.

Away from the market, Swedish Prime Minster Goran Persson would not have missed the announcement in the British parliament.

He has to figure out how to turn around the 10% lead held by the Swedish No campaign in three months.

When Mr Persson announced the euro referendum last year, the Yes side was ahead. The UK decision is expected to give the No camp a further boost.

Euro is 'a failure'

The leader of the anti-euro Left party and MEP Jonas Sjoestedt told the BBC the news from London was the best he could have hoped for:

They are a future euro country, and that means that the euro area will grow even bigger, and that's very positive for us
Johnny Munkhammar
Confederation of Swedish Enterprise
"It means the main argument of the Yes side falls away - namely that Sweden would be isolated in the EU if we reject the euro.

"I believe the No side will continue to gain. People see the euro as a failure, with Germany struggling, and other euro countries individually adjusting their monetary policies to make the whole thing work," Mr Sjoestedt said.

But the Yes campaign would not admit to have suffered a set-back on hearing the news from London.

Finnish man examines Euro
Neighbouring Finland has embraced the euro
Johnny Munkhammar from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise told the BBC it mattered little whether Britain had decided to wait and see.

"The British Government has a clear aim of joining the euro," he said. "What matters is that they will probably join. They are a future euro country, and that means that the euro area will grow even bigger, and that's very positive for us."

Fears for welfare state

The Swedish Government never officially set out economic criteria to see if the country was ready for the euro.

Analysts here say Sweden already fulfils the five tests set for the British economy.

But the Swedish euro debate has so far been more about politics than economy. The Yes side says euro membership is crucial to maintain real influence in the EU.

I don't trust Goran Persson - he says the euro is best for Sweden, but he understands that joining the euro means we must cut our costs in the public sector
Anna Rydberg
Stockholm midwife
The anti-euro camp calls the monetary union undemocratic, and an unwanted move towards a federal Europe.

Many also see the euro as a threat to Sweden's generous welfare system. Anna Rydberg, a Stockholm midwife, said she was disappointed with the Social Democrat government.

"I don't trust Goran Persson," she said. "He says the euro is best for Sweden, but he understands that joining the euro means we must cut our costs in the public sector."

Mr Persson argues that the only way to keep the Swedish welfare system running is to be part of the monetary union, and take advantage of the growth and stability it offers.

A Yes vote in September is crucial to him and his government.

It would also very likely have an impact on a future referendum in Denmark, the only other EU country outside the euro apart from Sweden and the UK.


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