“Rebuilding Sweden’s crisis preparedness: Lack of clarity impedes implementation”, Mariette Hägglund (FIIA, Finland)

Changes in the security environment and Sweden’s related policy changes adopted in the early 2000s made large national-level planning and organization unnecessary. This led to a decentralization of Sweden’s crisis preparedness system. COVID19 is the latest reminder of some of the shortcomings in Sweden’s crisis preparedness. Previous warning signs were the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, and the forest fires in 2014 and 2018.

A major effort is currently underway in Sweden to build a streamlined system to respond to the broad scope of vulnerabilities and threats. A functioning crisis preparedness system is not only important in itself, but also as a contribution to Sweden’s total defence efforts. Rebuilding the system, however, will be slow and costly. Sweden’s crisis preparedness system is characterized by a complex authority landscape and discrepancies between sectors and regions.

While the Swedish constitution does not allow for exceptions in crises, and ministerial governance is forbidden, the COVID19 situation may spark a discussion about the need for changes in the legal framework.

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