EU Summit 2001

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The "Bush Not Welcome" demonstration 14 June 2001

The 2001 meeting of the European Council was held in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, from 14–16 June.

The EU Summit focused upon EU enlargement, sustainable development, economic growth and structural reform issues. The EU–US summit included a visit by U.S. president George W. Bush on 14 June. It was the first U.S. presidential visit to Sweden, and was intended as an opportunity to discuss differences on climate negotiations, WTO and Middle East issues with the EU leaders. It was marred by extensive demonstrations.

Introduction[edit]

The main protests were organised by three broad coalitions, a local coalition Bush Go home that opposed U.S. foreign policy, a Sweden-based coalition Network Gothenburg 2001 which opposed Swedish membership in the EU and EMU and an international coalition Gothenburg Action 2001, a proponent of "another Europe", opponent of EU militarisation, the Schengen Agreement, and defending the public sector and the environment from becoming trade commodites and EMU. There was also a broad Iranian and a smaller Anti-capitalist coalition as well as non-violent networks and Reclaim the Streets organising demonstrations and a street party.

According to the police, more than 50,000 demonstrators gathered in Gothenburg during the three days of the summit,[1] among them a smaller amount with foreign nationality. The demonstrating organisations arranged many conferences, the biggest conference (besides, of course, the EU summit itself) being Fritt forum (Free Forum) which hosted 50 lectures and seminars and was funded by the city of Gothenburg, the Swedish justice department and Sweden's foreign ministry department among others.[1] The summit was guarded by approximately 2500 police officers.[2]

Besides a number of encounters and skirmishes there were a number of riots. The first one occurred on 14 June after the police had surrounded and enclosed the Hvitfeldtska gymnasiet where demonstrators had been invited by the city to stay during the summit. The second occurred in the morning of 15 June in conjunction with a demonstration of 2000 participants organised by the anti-capitalist organisation, and it resulted in violent clashes with the police and damage of Gothenburg's main street Kungsportsavenyn. Later in the evening during the Reclaim the City demonstration, a police unit came under attack by demonstrators throwing projectiles. The police subsequently fired shots at the demonstrators. Three persons were injured by gunshots, one of whom was seriously injured.[3] This was the first use of firearms against Swedish demonstrators since the Ådalen shootings in 1931.

The riots were followed by suppression and prison sentences for 64 persons convicted of criminal behaviour. In total demonstrators were sent to prison for almost 50 years. As of 2006, no police officer has been convicted of wrongdoing during the summit. One officer was tried and convicted for committing perjury during a trial against a Gothenburg demonstrator.[citation needed]

The riots left large areas of central Gothenburg demolished due to the violent protests of the demonstrators, as well as leaving many stores looted.[3][4]

Background[edit]

Göran Persson (in the middle) with George W. Bush and Romano Prodi in Gothenburg, 14 June 2001.

The summit meeting of the European Union was notable because heads of states from the EU gathered in Gothenburg, and also because the American President George W. Bush visited Sweden for the first time on the day before the summit meeting. As a reaction to this, protesters from all over the world planned to gather in Gothenburg to demonstrate under different banners. The City of Gothenburg assisted the out-of-town protesters by providing living quarters in different schools around Gothenburg and a convergence center, first at Hvitfeldtska gymnasiet and later moved to Schillerska Grammar School.

The political background to the protests was a conjuncture of three forces. EU-criticism and opposition to membership in the EU was stronger in Sweden than anywhere else in the union. Secondly a wave of globalisation protests against neoliberalism had gained momentum after the protests during the EU Summit in Amsterdam 1997 and the WTO meeting in Seattle 1999. Anti-war and environmental concerns against the U.S. was a third factor.

The police planned and gathered their forces in anticipation of the meeting. Never before had this many heads of state met in Sweden, and thousands of police were to stand guard in Gothenburg to keep order during these three days of June 2001. The police had long prepared for disturbances and also had many different intelligence services directed at the groups participating in the planning of demonstrations. There were differing opinions amongst the police forces involved. The security police did not want the Hvitfeldtska gymnasiet to be used as they felt it was too close to the EU Summit while the Gothenburg police insisted on having the demonstrators there. American police tactics against protesters were in use such as a psycho-tactic unit that was supposed to have a dialogue with demonstrating organisations.

The police, the local authority and the different demonstration coalitions had arranged a dialogue group where they planned and discussed the demonstrations to ensure they would be as peaceful as possible.

Aftermath[edit]

Perspectives of the police[edit]

The officers in command of the action stated that they were very pleased with how the police had served during the summit (an opinion which at the time was shared by the government). It was claimed that the police successfully had used advance information about demonstrators and undercover police officers among the demonstrators to among other things find out about the "secret" information central.

According to the police, they acted completely in accordance with the Police Law.

The Swedish Police Union strongly criticised the way the police actions had been led and managed.[5] In its report "Chaos" – regarding the Command in Gothenburg in June 2001 it is stated that a majority of the police who were on duty during the time felt they did not have enough resources to carry out their duties in a proper manner and that orders were confusing.[5]

Statistics[edit]

  • Crimes reported: 3143 (as of February 2002)[1]
  • Detained (gripna) for criminal actions: 554[2]
  • Detained (omhändertagna) by the police (including following two listings): 575[2]
    • Detained (omhändertagna) by the police in the power of §13 of the police law (aka PL13): 387[2]
    • Detained (omhändertagna) by the police in the power of §11 of the police law (aka PL11): 188[2]
  • Arrested (anhållna): 107[2]
  • Detained while pending trial (häktade): 59[2][6]
  • Number of verdicts: 38[2]
  • Number of "EU-related" (i.e. related to events during the EU-summit) persons injured (treated by hospitals in the region of Västra Götaland): 143[1]
    • Police: 53[1]
    • Demonstrators: 90[1]

Trials[edit]

The total sum of the sentences following the riots during the EU summit was roughly 50 years in prison, which according to the journalist Erik Wijk is 12 times more than earlier riots.[7] No police were convicted despite a large number of complaints.[citation needed]

One of the most noticed cases is the so-called information central, which was stormed by Nationella insatsstyrkan during the first day of the summit. A total of eight persons (five men, three women) were sentenced to long prison sentences after having sent out text messages urging people to go to Hvitfeldtska gymnasiet in connection with the police shutdown of the school.[citation needed]

The police officer in charge for the EU summit, Håkan Jaldung (sv), was accused in a trial of preventing about 100 people at the Schillerska from leaving the place for several hours, but was found innocent.[8]

Participating organisations[edit]

Göteborgsaktionen ("The Gothenburg Action") involved 87 organisations out of whom 33 were Swedish, 22 Danish, 9 Finnish, 5 Norwegian, 4 European and some other mainly from different Eastern European countries. Nätverket Göteborg ("The Gothenburg Network") involved over 20 organisations.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Händelserna i samband med Europeiska rådets möte i Göteborg den 14–16 juni 2001" [Gothenburg 2001 – Report from the Gothenburg Committee (SOU_2002:122)] (PDF) (in Swedish). Government of Sweden. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 September 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h National Police Board's evaluation of the EU command in Gothenburg in 2001 [1] (Swedish) Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  3. ^ a b "SOU_2002:122" (PDF) (in Swedish). Government of Sweden. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 20 November 2006. 
  4. ^ "Många oskyldiga drabbades". Göteborgs-Posten (in Swedish). 10 June 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Chaos" – Regarding the Command in Gothenburg in June 2001 ("Kaos" – om kommenderingen i Göteborg juni 2001)[2] (Retrieved 20 November 2006) is an investigation conducted by The Swedish Police Union (Polisförbundet) which is compiled from a questionnaire sent to 1800 police officers who were on duty during the events of the 2001 EU summit in Gothenburg. Its summary reads: "The picture of the command during the EU summit can be summarized in one word: Chaos. Lack of education, lack of materiel and communication, as well as confusing orders and an inner chaos within the police."
  6. ^ Please note some problems translating Swedish judicial terms such as gripa, omhänderta and anhålla into English. While the terms gripna, omhändertagna and anhållna all translate to arrested or detained, in Swedish judicial language they have different value, anhållna being the gravest form of arrest, in fact the only form where the detainee is under the suspicion of committing (a) criminal act(s). Also note the difference between only being detained (gripen, as under §11 and §13 of the Swedish police law) and being detained while pending trial.
  7. ^ Wijk, Erik (2003). Orätt: rättsrötan efter Göteborgshändelserna (in Swedish). Stockholm: Ordfront. ISBN 91-7037-003-6.  Page needed.
  8. ^ "Jaldung friad i hovrätten" (in Swedish). Sveriges Television. 23 November 2004. 

Coordinates: 57°41′55″N 11°58′38″E / 57.69861°N 11.97722°E / 57.69861; 11.97722