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Sweden: Burden sharing and housing shortages in focus in debates around refugee crisis

The two most discussed integration issues in Sweden during the current refugee crisis are housing shortages and burden sharing between local municipalities.

While the Swedish Government has been relatively generous and welcoming with asylum seekers, politicians at the local level are less satisfied with the way the government is organising the refugee settlement and with the financial compensation they receive from the state. This has led to long waiting times for accepted asylum seekers looking for settlement. 

So far, the government has tried to solve the capacity problem by pushing for solutions on the European and local levels. On the 10th of September, the Social Democratic Prime Minister Stefan Löfven held a meeting with all party leaders, except the Sweden Democrats, in order to discuss the current challenges of refugee settlement and integration. His ambition was twofold: first to get support for his position in EU for an increase of burden sharing between countries, but also to get support for a law that forces local municipalities to settle migrant newcomers. In addition, the Prime Minister wants to mobilise a broad coalition for integration called “Sweden together", including not only political parties but also municipalities, employers, unions, sports associations, religious communities and others.

At the moment, it looks like the government will get support for the law on mandatory refugee settlement after the Liberal party changed position and now supports the proposal. This policy is expected to raise protests on the local political level, and to counteract the protests, the Government recently announced a substantial increase in the financial compensation to municipalities from 83,100 SEK (8,900 euros) per settled person to 125,000 (13,400 euros).

However, the obligatory burden sharing law doesn´t solve the housing shortages plaguing almost every municipality. The National Board of Housing, Building and Planning is expected to present their analysis of the housing situation in October, and many are awaiting their suggestions with high expectations.

Read more here and here.