Sweden and the euro
Sweden does not currently use the euro as its currency and has no plans to replace the krona in the near future. Sweden is obliged under its 1994 Treaty of Accession to join the eurozone once it meets the necessary conditions set out in the Treaty of Maastricht. Sweden maintains that joining the ERM II (a requirement for euro adoption) is voluntary, and has chosen to remain outside pending public approval by a referendum, thereby intentionally avoiding the fulfilment of the adoption requirements.
- 1 Status
- 2 History
- 3 Usage today
- 4 Plans
- 5 Economic research
- 6 Opinion polls
- 7 Swedish euro coins
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Sweden joined the European Union in 1995 and its accession treaty obliges it to join the euro as soon as the country is found to comply with all the convergence criteria. However, one of the requirements for eurozone membership is two years' membership of ERM II, and Sweden has chosen not to join this mechanism, which would peg the Swedish currency to the euro ±2.25%. The SEK floats freely alongside other currencies. Most of Sweden's major parties believe that it would be in the national interest to join, but they have all pledged to abide by the result of the referendum.
Despite this, the euro can be used to pay for goods and services in some places in Sweden. (See below.)
Sweden meets four of five conditions for joining the euro, and membership in the European exchange rate mechanism is the only condition not met by it, as the table below shows in greater detail:
|Assessment month||Country||HICP inflation rate[nb 1]||Excessive deficit procedure||Exchange rate||Long-term interest rate[nb 2]||Compatibility of legislation|
|Budget deficit to GDP||Debt-to-GDP ratio||ERM II member||Change in rate[nb 3]|
|2012 ECB Report[nb 4]||Reference values||Max. 3.1%[nb 5]
(as of 31 Mar 2012)
|None open (as of 31 March 2012)||Min. 2 years
(as of 31 Mar 2012)
|Max. ±15%[nb 6]
|Max. 5.80%[nb 7]
(as of 31 Mar 2012)
(as of 31 Mar 2012)
(Fiscal year 2011)
(Fiscal year 2011)
|2013 ECB Report[nb 8]||Reference values||Max. 2.7%[nb 9]
(as of 30 Apr 2013)
|None open (as of 30 Apr 2013)||Min. 2 years
(as of 30 Apr 2013)
|Max. ±15%[nb 6]
|Max. 5.5%[nb 9]
(as of 30 Apr 2013)
(as of 30 Apr 2013)
(Fiscal year 2012)
(Fiscal year 2012)
|2014 ECB Report[nb 10]||Reference values||Max. 1.7%[nb 11]
(as of 30 Apr 2014)
|None open (as of 30 Apr 2014)||Min. 2 years
(as of 30 Apr 2014)
|Max. ±15%[nb 6]
|Max. 6.2%[nb 11]
(as of 30 Apr 2014)
(as of 30 Apr 2014)
(Fiscal year 2013)
(Fiscal year 2013)
- The 12-months average for the annual HICP inflation rate must be no more than 1.5% larger than the unweighted arithmetic average of the similar HICP inflation rates in the 3 EU member states with the lowest HICP inflation. If any of these 3 states have a HICP rate significantly below the similarly averaged HICP rate for the eurozone (which according to ECB practice means more than 2% below), and if this low HICP rate has been primarily caused by exceptional circumstances (i.e. severe wage cuts or a strong recession), then such a state is not included in the calculation of the reference value and is replaced by the EU state with the fourth lowest HICP rate.
- The annual average for the yield of 10-year government bonds must be no more than 2.0% larger than the unweighted arithmetic average of the bond yields in the 3 EU member states with the lowest HICP inflation. If any of these states have bond yields which are significantly larger than the similarly averaged yield for the eurozone (which according to previous ECB reports means more than 2% above) and at the same time does not have complete funding access to financial markets (which is the case for as long as a government receives bailout funds), then such a state is not be included in the calculation of the reference value.
- The change in the annual average exchange rate against the euro.
- Reference values from the ECB convergence report of May 2012.
- Sweden, Ireland and Slovenia were the reference states.
- The maximum allowed change in rate is ± 2.25% for Denmark.
- Sweden and Slovenia were the reference states, with Ireland excluded as an outlier.
- Reference values from the ECB convergence report of June 2013.
- Sweden, Latvia and Ireland were the reference states.
- Reference values from the ECB convergence report of June 2014.
- Latvia, Portugal and Ireland were the reference states.
Early monetary unions in Sweden (1873–1914)
On 5 May 1873 Denmark with Sweden fixed their currencies against gold and formed the Scandinavian Monetary Union. Prior to this date Sweden used Swedish riksdaler. In 1875 Norway joined this union. An equal valued krona of the monetary union replaced the three legacy currencies at the rate of 1 krona = ½ Danish rigsdaler = ¼ Norwegian speciedaler = 1 Swedish riksdaler. The new currency (krona) became a legal tender and was accepted in all three countries – Denmark, Sweden and Norway. This monetary union lasted until 1914, when it was brought to an end by World War I. As of 2014, the names of the currencies in each country have remained unchanged ("krona" in Sweden, "krone" in Norway and Denmark).
Joining the European Union
The Swedish European Union membership referendum of 1994 approved—with a 52% majority—the Accession Treaty and in 1995 Sweden joined the EU. According to the treaty Sweden is obliged to adopt the euro once it meets convergence criteria.
A referendum held in September 2003 saw 55.9 percent vote against membership of the eurozone. As a consequence, Sweden decided in 2003 not to adopt the euro for the time being. If they had voted in favour, Sweden would have adopted the euro on 1 January 2006.
A majority of voters in Stockholm County voted in favour of adopting the euro (54.7% "yes", 43.2% "no"). In Skåne County the people voting "yes" (49.3%) outnumbered the people voting "no" (48.5%), although the invalid and blank votes resulted in no majority for either option. In all other polls in Sweden, the majority voted no.
Many stores, hotels and restaurants accept euros. This is especially common in some border cities. Shops especially oriented towards foreign tourists are more likely to accept foreign currencies (such as the euro) than other shops.
Official currency status
Matters such as official currency status and legal tender issues are decided by the Swedish parliament, and the euro is not an official currency of any part of Sweden. Nevertheless, politicians from some municipalities (see below) have claimed that the euro is an official currency of their municipalities. This means that the municipality has made an agreement with many shops that they should accept euros (in cash and credit cards). However this is not mandatory for the stores and the status as "official currency" is mostly a marketing device rather than a legal mandate.
The only Swedish city near the eurozone is Haparanda, where almost all stores accept euros as cash and often display prices in euros. Haparanda has become an important shopping city with the establishment of IKEA and other stores. 200,000 Finns live within 150 km distance.
Some municipalities, especially Haparanda, wanted to have the euro as a legally official currency, and, for example, contract salaries in euros to employees from Finland. However, this is illegal due to tax laws and salary rules. (The actual payment can be in euro, handled by the bank, but the salary contract and the tax documentation must be in kronor).
The town of Höganäs claimed itself to having adopted the euro for shops on 1 January 2009. From that date, all residents can use either kronor or euro in restaurants and shops, as well as in payments of rent and bills. Dual pricing is used at many places and ATMs dispense either currency without additional charge (the latter is law all over Sweden). Around 60 percent of stores in the town are reported to have signed up to the scheme and local banks have developed guidelines to accept euro deposits. This decision was approved and agreed by municipality of Höganäs. Höganäs has developed a special euro logo for the city. It is not a law in Höganäs, just a recommendation. This has been a rather successful PR coup, with good coverage in news papers, and it has been referred also in foreign newspapers.
Helsingborg and Malmö
Some shops accept euros, and price tags in euros exist in some tourist oriented shops, as in more cities in Sweden. Acceptance of and price tags in Danish kroner are probably more common.
Pajala and Övertorneå
The Pajala and Övertorneå municipalities have borders to Finland (and thus to the eurozone). The euro is often accepted in shops and sometimes shown on price tags, but there is no official adoption of the euro from the municipality point of view. However, there was a political proposal to officially adopt the euro in Pajala.
Stockholm is the most important tourist city in Sweden, measured as the number of nights spent by tourists. Some tourist-oriented shops accept euros, although there is no official policy from the municipality. Taxi services in Stockholm can be paid in euros. In 2009 there was a rejected political proposal to officially introduce the euro in Stockholm.
Some cash machines may dispense foreign currency. Usually the euro is the foreign currency dispensed, but sometimes British pounds, US dollars, Danish kroner or Norwegian kroner are dispensed instead. All of these cash machines also dispense Swedish kronor. Most of these cash machines are located in major cities, international airports and border areas.
Presence of the euro in Swedish law and bank system
The euro is present in some elements of Swedish law, based on EU directives. For example, an EU directive states that all transactions in euros inside the EU shall have the same fees as euro transactions within the country concerned. The Swedish government has made an amendment which states that the directive also applies to krona-based transactions. This means, for example, that euros can be withdrawn without fees from Swedish banks at any ATM in the eurozone, and that krona- and euro-based transfers to bank accounts in the European Economic Area can be done over the internet without a sending fee. The receiving banks can still sometimes charge a fee for receiving the payment, though, although the same EU directive typically makes this impossible for euro-based transfers to eurozone countries. This is different from, for example, Denmark where banks are required to set the price for international euro transactions within the EEA to the same price as for domestic Danish euro transactions (which does not have to be the same as the price for domestic Danish krone transactions). However, banks in Sweden still decide the exchange rate, and so are able to continue charging a small percentage for exchanging between kronor and euros when using card payments.
Most major political parties in Sweden, including the formerly governing coalition Alliance for Sweden (except the Center Party), which won the 2006 election and the governing Social Democratic party, are in principle in favour of introducing the euro.
The newspaper Sydsvenska Dagbladet claimed on 26 November 2007 (a few days after the former Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, had announced plans to hold another referendum on abolishing Denmark's opt-outs including the opt-out from the euro) that the question of another euro referendum would be one of the central issues of the 2010 election in Sweden. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt stated in December 2007 that when more neighbours use the euro, it will be more visible that Sweden does not.
Swedish politician Olle Schmidt in an interview with journalists from the European Parliament 2008 when asked when Sweden will have good reasons to adopt the euro, he said "When the Baltic countries join the euro, the whole Baltic Sea will be surrounded by euro coins. Then the resistance will drop. I hope for a referendum in Sweden in 2010."
2009 European elections
During the election campaign for the European Parliament elections, Liberal People's Party and Christian Democrats expressed interest in holding a second referendum on euro adoption. However, the Moderate Party and Centre Party thought that the time was ill-chosen.
A 2009 economic study from J. James Reade (Oxford) and Ulrich Volz (German Development Institute) on the possible entry of Sweden in the eurozone has found that it would be likely to have a positive effect. The study of the evolution of the Swedish money market rates shows that they closely follow the euro rates, even during times of economic crisis. This shows that Sweden would not lose in terms of monetary policy autonomy, as the Swedish Central Bank already closely follows the rates set by the European Central Bank. When adopting the euro, Sweden would swap this autonomy on paper for a real influence on the European monetary policy thanks to the gaining of a seat in the ECB's governing council. Overall, the study concludes that "staying outside of the eurozone implies forgone benefits that Sweden, a small open economy with a sizable and internationally exposed financial sector, would enjoy from adopting an international currency."
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt stated in December 2007 that there will be no referendum until there is stable support in the polls. The polls have generally showed stable support for the "no" alternative, except some polls in 2009 showing a support for "yes". Since 2010 the polls showed strong support for "no".
Polls on the question whether Sweden should abolish the krona and join the euro are regularly carried out, usually by the state statistics agency Statistics Sweden (SCB). The results are always published in the press or online.
|Date (survey taken)||Date (when published)||YES||NO||Unsure||Number of participants||Held by|
|May 2004||18 June 2004||37.8%||50.9%||11.3%||7,046||SCB|
|November 2004||15 December 2004||37.3%||48.6%||14.3%||6,919||SCB|
|May 2005||21 June 2005||39.4%||46.4%||14.2%||6,985||SCB|
|November 2005||20 December 2005||36.1%||49.4%||14.5%||6,980||SCB|
|May 2006||20 June 2006||38.1%||48.7%||13.2%||6,870||SCB|
|November 2006||19 December 2006||34.7%||51.5%||13.8%||7,012||SCB|
|24 March 2007||37%||60%||3%||Skop|
|May 2007||19 June 2007||33.3%||53.8%||13%||6,932||SCB|
|November 2007||18 December 2007||35.0%||50.8%||14.2%||6,922||SCB|
|May 2008||17 June 2008||34.6%||51.7%||13.7%||6,817||SCB|
|November 2008||16 December 2008||37.5%||47.5%||15%||6,687||SCB|
|1 March 2009||45%||51%||4%||Skop|
|19 April 2009||47%||45%||8%||Sifo|
|12 May 2009||51%||49%||0%||1,000||Novus Opinion|
|25 May 2009||47%||44%||9%||1,000||Novus Opinion|
|May 2009||23 June 2009||42.1%||42.9%||15.1%||6,506||SCB|
|November 2009||15 December 2009||43.8%||42.0%||14.2%||6,398||SCB|
|9 April 2010||37%||55%||8%||1,004||Demoskop|
|May 2010||15 June 2010||27.8%||60%||12.2%||6,135||SCB|
|November 2010||14 December 2010||28.9%||58.2%||12.9%||6,192||SCB|
|May 2011||15 June 2011||24.1%||63.7%||12.2%||6,147||SCB|
|November 2011||13 December 2011||11.2%||80.4%||8.4%||5,907||SCB|
|May 2012||11 June 2012||13.6%||77.7%||8.7%||5,473||SCB|
|November 2012||12 December 2012||9.6%||82.3%||8.0%||5,479||SCB|
|May 2013||11 June 2013||10.9%||81.4%||7.7%||5,098||SCB|
|November 2013||11 December 2013||12.6%||78.3%||9.2%||5,267||SCB|
|May 2014||10 June 2014||13.1%||77.4%||9.6%||4,757||SCB|
|June 2014||July 2014||19%||77%||4%||Eurobarometer|
|November 2014||10 December 2014||13.2%||76.9%||10.0%||5,072||SCB|
|November 2014||December 2014||23%||73%||4%||Eurobarometer|
SCB polling question: If there were to be a referendum on the euro by the end of this month, what would you vote?
Eurobarometer question: Are you for or against: A European Economic and Monetary Union with one single currency - the euro?
Critique of polling questions
How the polling questions are phrased has a major impact on how people respond. The SCB polling question tends to measure if the electorate favor voting yes/no for Sweden to adopt the euro as soon as possible. However, polls conducted by TNS Polska in Poland showed that this question finds a large group of supporters of euro adoption would vote no to adopting the euro as soon as possible, but that a majority of them would vote yes if asked whether or not the state should adopt the euro ten years from now. The Eurobarometer question, however, can also be criticized, as it might measure a too big support when asking if you are for/against the EMU in general (not asking specifically if you are for/against your own state to adopt the euro).
Swedish euro coins
The designs for potential Swedish euro coins are not under consideration. It was reported in the media that when Sweden changed the design of the 1-krona coin in 2001 it was in preparation for the euro. A newer portrait of the king was introduced. The 10-kronor coin already had a similar portrait. This in fact is from a progress report by the Riksbank on possible Swedish entry into the euro, which states that the lead in time for coin changeover could be reduced through using the portrait of King Carl XVI Gustaf introduced on the 1- and 10-kronor coins in 2001 as the national side on Swedish 1- and 2 euro coins.
Only the national bank can manufacture valid coins by the law of Sweden. Some private collection mint companies have produced Swedish euro coins, claiming that they are copies of test coins made by the Riksbank. Swedish euro coins will not be designed or issued for as long as there is no prior referendum approval for euro adoption.
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