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Sweden beyond yes and no

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Tomorrow November 20th the Swedish parliament will most probably decide for the Lisbon Treaty. The major parties in the centre-right government are for, together with the Social Democratic opposition. Only the left party and the green party (the greens demand a refendum) will say no.

Cecilia Malmström, minister of EU affairs, is right in pointing out that the EU-negative side of saying "no" the European Union (even with supporting an exit from the EU) and not acknowleding that the previous Nice-accord needed an amendment.

Claes Arvidsson at daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet points to the fact that the Lisbon Treaty replacing the constitution defeated in Ireland, is not the short, easily understandable and clearly defined treaty between member states and the union it should have been.

Unfortunately, the Swedish debate about is still moving around the two key issue of when Sweden entered: "yes" or "no" to the EU. This does not only have the problematic effect in implementing new EU decisions, but it also hampers the political discussion of what the supporters of the European idea should be doing. If you always have to close ranks, in order to defend the EU in a very general manner, you have troubles defining what a liberal, conservative or social democratic answer to European policy issues is. When visions are forced to take a back seat, voters are not give clear alternatives.

Centre-right blogger and political commentator Dick Erixon points the importance of accountability in the European political process

"No to the EU" is not a viable political alternative any long, there are too many important political issues that need be solved in Europe, and even if some parts of the European process may be problematic they are best solved through good political work inside the Union.

But neither is "yes to the EU" a viable political option. Supporting the European Union means contributing constructive criticism and alternative views.

As the Lisbon Treaty will be supported by the Swedish riksdag tomorrow it well due time to discard both "yes" and "no".

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