With the UK free from the shackles of Brussels, and now able to control its own destiny, euroscepticism throughout the bloc has risen, with envious eyes looking at how Britain fares on its own. Alongside a weak euro, as well as the EU’s botched handling of the coronavirus vaccine roll-out, the likes of the Netherlands, Sweden and Italy have witnessed anti-Brussels rhetoric rise. But the bloc has previously been warned that when Brexit was finally concluded, the anger towards the EU would only grow, particularly if economies slide.
Since adopting the euro numerous countries have become stifled by the currency, including Italy, where estimates showed how Rome’s economy had shrunk between 2008 and 2016.
And Sweden remains fearful that it could be forced to enter the euro, particularly as its former biggest friend in the bloc, the UK, has now exited.
Predictions prior to the historic 2016 Brexit referendum saw Swedbank, one of Sweden’s leading financial institutions, fire a warning shot at the EU, arguing Stockholm would be “under threat” if Leave won the vote.
Ms Danin explained the economic impacts would be “instantaneous but temporary”, while the “political consequences would be more devastating and could be extensive for Sweden”.
She said: “In Brexit, Sweden would lose one of its most important allies in the EU and Sweden’s influence in the EU would diminish.
“The support for continued Swedish membership in the EU has declined. In the case of a Brexit, we expect an increase in demands for Sweden to also exit the EU.”
The analyst also admitted that Swedish businesses would be badly struck, particularly the service sector, for which the UK is Sweden’s third-largest exporter market.
Sweden enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the UK while it was a member of the bloc, and often relied on its vote during sessions in European Parliament.
A Votewatch report detailed that between 2009 and 2015, the UK and Sweden joined together on 88 percent of votes.
They even successfully led a charge to secure the first ever EU budget cut back in 2013.
Yet with the UK gone, demand for Swexit – Sweden’s answer to Brexit – appears to have gathered momentum, and Ulrica Schenström, a Moderate Party member and former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s state secretary, issued her own analysis of what could happen before the referendum five years ago.
According to a report from The Local, Ms Schenström argued that there were “lots of reasons for Sweden to be worried”, particularly as “the UK is like us and is outside of the euro”.
She said “Britain has done a lot of the heavy lifting for us non-euro countries,” adding that if the “British leave, euroscepticism in Sweden will grow”.
In 2016 there was an appetite for Swexit, as a poll by TNS Sifo found that 36 percent would be in favour of quitting the EU, while 32 percent were against.
Similarly, nine in 10 people also felt that the UK leaving the EU would be a bad thing to happen to the bloc – and for Sweden.
Sweden’s then-Deputy Prime Minister Margot Wallstrom warned at the time a vote for Brexit “could break up the entire union”.
Speaking on the BBC’s This Week’s World, the Swedish Social Democratic Party member said: “That might affect other EU member states that will say, ‘Well, if they can leave, maybe we should also have referendums, and maybe we should also leave.”
But more recently, Sweden – with Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands – provoked anger with the bloc by initially blocking a coronavirus package of support for member states struggling through the pandemic.
Dubbed the “Frugal Four”, the opponents said they would back the concept of a “one-off emergency fund” but were against debt sharing, or a significant increase in the EU budget.
The countries see mutual debt as a grave concern, as it could bring about Eurobonds, which would see the likes of the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Sweden pick up the bill for other countries’ debt.
Writing a London School of Economics blog last year, Andrew Watt, head of the unit for European economic policy at the Hans-Böckler Foundation, said: “The Frugals, on paper, have a fairly strong position in the sense that this whole thing is located within the European Union budget.
“In practice, though, none of them want to go down in the history books as the country that, faced with a pandemic, after all these countries have gone through, let them starve.”
A coronavirus package would later be agreed to help the countries most struggling in the pandemic.