Rule of Law in Sweden

Justice

Effective justice systems are essential for upholding the rule of law. Independence, quality and efficiency are the defined parameters of an effective justice system, whatever the model of the national legal system and tradition in which it is anchored. Whilst the organisation of justice in the Member States falls within the competence of the Member States, when they are exercising that competence, Member States must ensure that their national justice systems provide for effective judicial protection. The independence of national courts is fundamental to ensuring such judicial protection. National courts ensure that the rights and obligations provided under EU law are enforced effectively. As re-affirmed by the European Court of Justice, the very existence of effective judicial review to ensure compliance with EU law is of the essence for the rule of law. Effective justice systems are also the basis for mutual trust, which is the bedrock of the common area of freedom, justice and security, an investment friendly environment, the sustainability of long-term growth and the protection of EU financial interests. The European Court of Justice has further clarified the requirements stemming from EU law regarding judicial independence. The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights also provides for key standards to be respected to safeguard judicial independence.

Independence

green
The level of perceived independence of the judiciary is consistently very high.
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A reform process to further strengthen judicial independence has been initiated.
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The rules for the allocation of cases have been codified.
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Quality

yellow
The National Courts Administration has requested additional resources, to cope with an increased caseload.
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Efforts are ongoing to address challenges concerning the use of digital communication in the Swedish judiciary.
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Efficiency

green
The Swedish justice system is not facing particular challenges regarding efficiency, despite a particularly high number of incoming administrative cases.
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Anti-corruption

The fight against corruption is essential for maintaining the rule of law. Corruption undermines the functioning of the state and of public authorities at all levels and is a key enabler of organised crime 48 . Effective anti-corruption frameworks, transparency and integrity in the exercise of state power can strengthen legal systems and trust in public authorities. Fighting corruption needs to be based on evidence about its prevalence and form in a given country, the conditions that enable corruption and the legal, institutional and other incentives that can be used to prevent, detect and sanction corruption.

Institutional Framework

green
Sweden scores 85/100 in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index and ranks 3rd in the European Union and 4th globally.
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Sweden has the legal framework to criminalise corruption broadly in place.
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Prevention

green
While there is no comprehensively codified national anticorruption strategy in place, the Government has announced its initiative to develop a National Action Plan on anti-corruption.
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Some categories of officials as well as members of Parliament and Ministers are required to submit asset declarations.
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Measures are in place to ensure whistle-blower protection and encourage reporting of corruption.
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Rules on ‘revolving doors’ have been introduced for high-level officials, while lobbying provision remains unregulated.
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A broad right to public access to information is a core element of the Swedish approach to corruption prevention.
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Repressive measures

green
The responsibility to fight and prevent corruption is distributed across several authorities.
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The National Anti-Corruption Unit (NACP) within the Prosecution Authority is responsible for all criminal investigations related to corruption and foreign bribery.
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Media Freedom

All Member States have legal frameworks in place to protect media freedom and pluralism and EU citizens broadly enjoy high standards of media freedom and pluralism. Freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism and the right of access to information are generally enshrined in the Constitution or in secondary law. Media pluralism and media freedom are key enablers for the rule of law, democratic accountability and the fight against corruption. The murders of journalists who were investigating high-level corruption and organised crime allegations have been a wake-up call reminding Member States of the obligation to guarantee an enabling environment for journalists, protect their safety and pro-actively promote media freedom and media pluralism.

Regulatory authorities

green
Sweden has in place effective regulatory safeguards for the independence of the media regulator.
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Sweden has a well-established self-regulatory framework in the media sector.
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Transparency of Media

yellow
With regard to the transparency of media ownership, the Swedish legal system does not provide for any media-specific legislation.
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Journalists' Protection

green
Sweden has a robust framework for the protection and activities of journalists.
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Other Institutional Issues

Institutional checks and balances are at the core of the rule of law. They guarantee the functioning, cooperation and mutual control of State organs so that power is exercised by one state authority with the scrutiny of others. In addition to an effective justice systems, checks and balances rely on a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws, the separation of powers, the constitutional and judicial review of laws, a transparent and high-quality public administration as well as effective independent authorities such as ombudsperson institutions or national human rights institutions.

Preparing and enacting laws

green
The enactment of legislation is characterised by a particularly inclusive process.
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The Council on Legislation is responsible for ex-ante constitutionality review of laws.
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Sweden is considering a reform of the procedure for amending its Constitution.
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Civil Society

green
The Government has implemented specific instruments for dialogue with civil society.
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Independent Authorities

green
Several independent authorities play a role in safeguarding fundamental rights.
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