This study examines Swedish asylum legislation from a European perspective. Although EU Member States are bound by common rules and standards for the protection and reception of asylum seekers, States might differ in the interpretation and implementation of the common rules. The report focuses on the grounds for protection, residence permits and family reunification and analyses the way in which Sweden and other Member States have used the discretion allowed by EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights. The study seeks to offer a solid and up-to-date account on Swedish legislation on asylum and contribute to the debate on how the future of Swedish migration policy could be redesigned to align with international standards.

Conclusions and recommendtions 

The study shows that Sweden complies with the EU’s minimum rules and the ECHR.

In certain respects, Sweden has adopted rules that are more beneficial from the perspective of those in needs of protection. Two examples are the conditions for being granted a permanent permit and the minimum standards required for family reunification. In other respects, however, such as duration of first permits, the Swedish legislation is less favorable in comparison to other EU Member States.

Sweden has the possibility to use its discretion to further develop its legislation in ways that imply less risks for potential violations.

Some of the recommendations highlight that the stricter the rules and the narrower they are interpreted, the greater the risk that they are incompatible with human rights law. Other recommendations suggest that Sweden should retain its flexible rules for both the obtainment of permanent residence permits and those allowing exceptions to requirements for family reunification. When it comes to temporary protection, Sweden should prepare and adopt a concrete plan which covers all possible situations that may occur when temporary protection under the Temporary Protection Directive is terminated.

About the authors

Authors of the report are Vladislava Stoyanova, associate professor at the Department of Law, Lund University and Eleni Karageourgiou, postdoctoral fellow also at the Department of Law.

The report and policy brief were published on 18 August 2022.

Photo by Andrey Popov from iStock.