Sunday

26th Feb 2017

Swedish foreign minister quits in cartoon internet row

Swedish foreign minister Laila Freivalds resigned on Tuesday (21 March) following a row connected to the infamous Mohammed cartoons.

Ms Freivalds had faced fierce criticism after the Swedish foreign ministry allegedly ordered the website of a far-right party, Sweden Democrats, which had threatened to publish the cartoons, to be shut down.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The website was closed when a foreign ministry official contacted the firm Levonline that hosted the website.

In response to allegations that the move violated Swedish freedom of speech laws, Ms Freivalds claimed the official had merely pointed out that the website was endangering the lives of Swedes.

Ms Freivalds also said she had no knowledge of her ministry's contact with the website hosts.

Swedish prime minister Goran Persson also accused the ministry official of acting unconstitutionally by letting his own opinion in the matter guide his acts instead of Swedish law.

Earlier this week, the official himself told the Swedish attorney-general investigating the closure that he had deliberated with Ms Freivalds prior to contacting Levonline, and that the minister had claimed the move was vital to "protect Swedish interests."

The incident has been seen as embarrassing the prime minister.

The shutting down of the website is currently being investigated by the Swedish parliament’a constitutional committee and the office of the chancellor of justice, and opposition leaders on Wednesday hinted that a possible vote of no confidence against the prime minister may be initiated.

Cartoons legacy hangs over Denmark

Meanwhile across the Oresund strait, Denmark has reacted with anger to a UN campaign poster marking the World Day against racism, picturing a jigsaw puzzle and a piece of Lego - one of Denmark's best export products and almost a national symbol.

"Racism takes many shapes" says the poster, which has also been printed in Arabic states.

Danish human rights activists call the poster "tactless and stupid" and the "deeply surprised" Lego firm has contacted the UN for an explanation, the Nordic press writes.

After an official request by Danish foreign minister Per Stig Moller, UN spokesperson Jose Luis Diaz said the poster designer was "probably not aware of the Lego piece origin", and that the poster would be withdrawn.

MEPs set to approve Canada trade deal

The European Parliament is expected to give the green light to the EU-Canada free trade agreement, which would start being implemented in April.

EU leaders to discuss migration, in Trump's shadow

New US president Trump overshadows the Malta summit of EU leaders on Friday, as they discuss the bloc's future amid new geopolitical realities, and step up efforts to stop migration via Libya from North African countries.

EU leaders must stand up to Trump, say MEPs

MEPs have urged the EU to stand up for European values, starting with rejecting Trump's presumed choice for US ambassador, who has stated that he wants to "tame" the bloc.

France's Macron issues Brexit warning

The centrist presidential candidate tells talented Britons to come to France and warns against giving the UK "undue advantages" after Brexit, in a speech in London.

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  4. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  5. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  6. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  7. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  9. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations