Fredrik Reinfeldt came to power in 2006 having led his centre-right ‘The Alliance for Sweden’ coalition to victory. The result would end 10 years of Social Democrat rule and would see Sweden embark on an economic course of lower income taxes and privatisation.
Despite enjoying a strong economic recovery from 2008 Reinfeldt, failed to win an outright majority at the ballot box in 2010. Since then he has governed with a minority coalition. In Davos, euronews reporter Isabelle Kumar spoke with the Swedish leader at the World Economic Forum.
euronews’ Isabelle Kumar: ‘‘Prime Minister, Sweden took a decision several years ago not to join the euro, and I guess that’s a decision you’re pretty pleased with?’‘
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt: “Well it was a referendum so it was the Swedish people who said ‘No’. And of course now the Swedish krona is very strong, but I think for the future the euro is a very good idea. It keeps Europe together, so I’m not certain that given some time we might not have a new discussion again.”
euronews: ‘‘So you would agree with French President Sarkozy when he said it would be a disaster of cataclysmic proportions should the euro collapse?’‘
Reinfeldt: “Yes, of course, but I believe it won’t. And I think we can do a lot more when it comes to reforming and to also taking down the huge deficit that we see in some of the European countries. But I think we should focus on that, because I think there has maybe been too much discussion on crisis mechanisms and loans and ‘will it collapse?’, but at the end of the day we have a job to do, and all of us have a responsibility to get better order in our economies.”
euronews:’‘In one of the panel discussions George Soros has gone as far as to say that at the moment we have a ‘two speed Europe’. The countries that are struggling on the one hand, and the more robust on the other. He thinks that could even lead to a disintegration of Europe – do you think that’s going too far?’‘
Reinfeldt: ‘‘Yes, I think so. And we should remember that those who are performing very well today were in great trouble like Sweden 20 years ago. So you could actually change the path, you could do right, you could reform your economy, you could increase your competitiveness and come out as a stronger economy, so it’s not a division that will always stay the same, and I think that’s a very important thing to remember.”
euronews: ‘‘You were telling me that you’re here because in some respects you are an example to a lot of nations, that you’ve done the right thing, and you’re going to be on panels discussing that here. What have you done right?’‘
Reinfeldt: “Well, first of all we did not give our taxpayer’s money to banks, we did not give it to cover costs or losses in non-competitive industries or companies.
“We directed it to investments in research and development, in a ‘put work first’ principle. And also combined with very active labour policy, on-the-job training and measures like that. I think that has given us a position where we were trying to increase mobility, and to give resources to what was to come, not so much give money to what has been.”
euronews: ‘‘In Britain – and I suppose you’re aware of this – you are dubbed ‘the Swedish Cameron’. Is that something that you like, is that a comparison that you can see?’‘
Reinfeldt: “Well it comes out that David (Cameron) and I know each other, and we are fairly the same age, and both of us became prime ministers, and we have talked to each other through this period, and therefore, of course, learned from each other. I’ve listened to David about a lot of his climate engagements, and he has been discussing a lot with me on the education reforms that we have done in Sweden for instance.”
euronews: ‘‘Let’s bring this back to Davos. You are here, as we were saying, on several panels. I’m interested in what the life of a prime minister is like when you come to Davos, what’s your agenda like?’‘
Reinfeldt: “Well, it’s very hectic. I came in last night, and I stay until tomorrow morning. I will be on panels, I have a few meetings on my own, I’m meeting with President Calderon from Mexico and Trichet, the ECB President, so for me it’s very good use of working hours, and very hectic.”