During the first six months on the UN Security Council, the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN in New York has worked closely with the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU in Brussels and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm on many important issues. The synergy effects are clear: membership of the Security Council has helped strengthen Sweden’s participation in the EU.

Since Sweden was elected to the Security Council, the agenda in New York has also left its mark on most aspects of the EU Representation’s work on the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. Even if we have learned a lot from Sweden’s membership of the Security Council, one general conclusion can be drawn – coordination between Sweden’s action in the UN and the EU is vital and the synergy effects of effective coordination have proven to be significant.

“Membership of the Security Council has affected the way we work in the Political and Security Committee, in nearly every geographic Council working party, and the way we promote Swedish interests in general,” says Ambassador Lars Danielsson, head of the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the European Union in Brussels.

Olof Skoog, Sweden’s UN Ambassador in New York, agrees and also points out that Sweden’s work to clarify the links between the agendas in New York and Brussels has become an increasingly important instrument for many countries and delegations.

“The interlinks between the Security Council’s work and the work done in the EU regarding the Common Foreign and Security Policy are extensive. Partners and colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic have expressed appreciation of our consistent efforts to give visibility to the links between work in the UN and the EU.”

One concrete example of the synergy effects between work in the Security Council and in the EU is the promotion of issues related to women, peace and security. Membership of the Security Council has meant that it has also been possible to address this subject in EU circles, which helped secure a place for the EU in the UN’s Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security.

Also, several conflict prevention activities were initiated with representatives from the EU and the UN, which resulted in a number of proposals on how cooperation between the EU and the UN can be strengthened in this area.

While the coordination experiences of the first six months of Security Council membership have been positive, there is scope for improvement in the future. This applies not least to the capacity and routines for identifying issues that require extremely rapid processing.

“Since issues develop quickly both here in New York and in Brussels, at the same time as they deal with complex matters and at times cumbersome processes, coordination is vital. This is also something that we will continue to develop further, since it will allow us to respond even faster and seize opportunities as they arise,” says Mr Skoog.

“You must have respect for the responsibility and the workload that membership of the UN Security Council entails, particularly since it affects the Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ entire organisation. But I think we have achieved a good balance in coordination efforts. The fact that the synergy effects have been so clear is proof of this,” says Mr Danielsson.