Interview with Kristin Jacobsson

Kristin Jacobsson is a political advisor for Centerpartiet in the Swedish National Parliament. Her areas of responsibility include European affairs, defence and security as well as foreign affairs. We interviewed her to discuss her thoughts on our #Transatlantic Lab conference and her views on the future of European defense from a Swedish perspective.

This summer, you participated in “#TransatlanticLab – The Policy Network”. This was a new ELF project that brought European staffers together in Washington, D.C. for an intensive exchange programme with American experts and counterparts. What were your impressions of the #TransatlanticLab and how did it benefit your work?

Participating in the #TransatlanticLab- The Policy Network was very rewarding to me personally and the discussions both with the European staffers as well as the panelists provided me with food for thought that will be useful to me in my every day work. My understanding of the current challenges but also the possibilities that lies in the transatlantic relationship increased. Of course the exciting environment of being in Washington DC gave an extra dimension to the trip.  I am also impressed by organisational aspect of the trip, ELF did a great job and everything went smoothly. I hope this trip was not a one-time occasion, and I recommend anyone who gets the possibility to participate will do so.

 

As the policies of the US Administration signal a more transactional approach towards security relations, some EU leaders say that Europe now has to step up its efforts to guarantee its own defence. What should be done in the European context to adapt to this new reality?

The transatlantic relationship is too important to abandon, and goes beyond the current US administration. We must build on the historic trust and dependence between us now more than ever. This is not in contrast to an EU developed in the security and defense area. EU must be able to handle a variety of threats, not least in cyber and disinformation areas, terrorism, etc. EU can also provide a clear added value to the capability development of the national defence forces. Doing more things together, joint capability development and cooperation will lead to economies of scale and make our national defense forces better. This will also lead to a better EU military and civilian response capability as well as to the overall capability of NATO. This in fact, is good for our transatlantic relations.

 

Europe’s security environment is rapidly changing, at a time when terrorism, hybrid threats, climate change, economic volatility and energy insecurity challenge existing security structures. What are the most pressing security challenges for the future from the Swedish perspective?

It is almost impossible to single out one threat or risk as the most pressing security challenge. What is unique at this point is that we are facing so many different threats and risks at the same time. It almost leads to a desolate feeling and a feeling of uncertainty for the future by many European citizens. We must therefore show that we can focus on several things at the same time and build up a general ability to handle a variety of threats and risks, military and non-military. To engage the UK in European security after Brexit is also important. Political leadership that shows the way forward and injecting hope and confidence for a united and strong and Europe, ready and willing to handle today's and tomorrow's threats and challenges is the most important right now.

 

With the support of the Center Party, the Swedish minority government recently decided to boost military spending in the 2018 budget and to reintroduce conscription. Will these measures be sufficient to address the future challenges as described above?

The Center party has really shown leadership in defence and security related issues the last few years. On three occasions the last couple of years we have negotiated more funding to our defence forces, and more recently also to a stronger civil defence. This will definitely increase our national defence capability and overall crises management. But more funding is needed the next few years as well. But this is not enough, we build security together with our neighbours and friends in both the EU and NATO. A Swedish NATO membership is also important to increase our overall defence capability. We see positively and curiously on the current security and defence development in the EU.

01. Sep 2017 by Intern

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