Editor’s Note: Today we publish the 2016 Report on Swedish constitutional law, which appears in the larger 44-country Global Review of Constitutional Law, now available here in a smaller file size for downloading and emailing.
–Thomas Bull, Justice of the Supreme Administrative Court, LL.D., Associate Professor (docent) and former Professor (full) in Constitutional Law, Uppsala University, and Anna Jonsson Cornell, Professor (full) in Comparative Constitutional Law and Associate Professor (docent) in Constitutional Law, Uppsala University.
Politically, the migration situation in Europe played a large role in Swedish politics throughout 2016. Several of the measures adopted by the Swedish Parliament and Government in order to cope with the situation have constitutional implications, touching upon, for example, border control and the division of powers between the state and municipalities. The impact of the new EU data protection regime on Swedish law has also been devoted a lot of attention, most recently as a result of the decision by the CJEU on December 12, 2016, in the Tele2 case.
Sweden is a parliamentary democracy, the Instrument of Government (IG) (Regeringsformen), 1:1, 4, 6, and a unitary state with a constitutionally protected local self-government. The power and status of local authorities are regulated in the constitution (IG 1:1(2), ch. 14), although the legislature has explicitly abstained from laying down a constitutional definition of the scope and meaning of local self-government. The local authorities’ taxation right (IG 14:4) together with the statement in IG 14:2 that local authorities are responsible for local and regional matters of public interest based on the principle of local self-government, is the primary expression of local self-government. All matters concerning the competence and responsibility of local authorities, including principles concerning the organization and working procedures of local authorities together with local taxation, must be regulated by an act of law (IG 14:2, 8:2(3)). An explicit reference is made to the principle of proportionality in IG 14:3 which states Any restriction in local self-government should not exceed what is necessary with regard to the purpose of the restriction. Local authorities have no regulatory powers based on the constitution; a delegation from the Parliament (Riksdag) is necessary. Such a delegation can be direct from the Riksdag to local authorities (IG 8:9) or indirect via the Government (IG 8:10).