Tuesday 20 April 2010

EU materials: House of Lords and Sweden

Legal acts of the European Union are not always from the master class of clarity. Especially first time readers often have a hard time understanding the meaning. There is a need for explanation and clarification, as well as evaluation outside the partly opaque processes leading to EU legislation.

Where to find help?

House of Lords

In the United Kingdom, we have the European Union Committee of the House of Lords, producing thoughtful reports on EU issues, evaluating important policy areas. But the patchy participation of Britain in EU activities influences the choice of subjects, and it affects the reasoning to a degree.

Where a fresh report of the HL European Union Committee exists, it is usually a valuable source for understanding the subject matter.


Sweden is an EU member state somewhat more in line with the EU mainstream (exceptions: euro currency and NATO membership).

The Swedish government’s web design is exemplary. You can easily find the subject matters, and you can advance from web pages with brief information to detailed documents without a hitch.

You can access the document search for all types of publications from the front page, and the search function actually works (which cannot be said about many government or EU websites).

Sweden has a tradition of thorough preparation of legislation, including matters related to the European Union. Each step on the way is documented and accessible, from committee directives to updated legal acts.

Sweden has invested a lot of effort to make public communications, including official documents, clear and readable (“klarsprĂ„k”).

Without changing the intrinsic nature of the European Union, Sweden managed to set the gold standard for EU Council communications during its presidency, including the design of its website and the use of social media.

The main limit to the wider use of Swedish EU and general legal materials is the language. There are about 20 million native speakers of Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, able to read information in Swedish.

But it should not stop the European Union and member state governments from emulating and improving on Swedish style communications.

Ralf Grahn

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