It is the Government that represents Sweden in the EU. However, the Government must gain the Riksdag's support for its positions on EU policies. The Government therefore consults the Riksdag's Committee on European Union Affairs prior to its meetings in the Council of Ministers and the European Council. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (Social Democratic Party) consulting the Committee on EU Affairs ahead of a meeting of the European Council. To the left of the Prime Minister is Minister for EU Affairs Hans Dahlgren (Social Democratic Party). Photo: Melker Dahlstrand Members from all parties The Committee on EU Affairs has the same composition as the parliamentary committees, that is, 17 members from all of the parties in the Riksdag. Directly after the elections to the Riksdag, the Riksdag decides, on the basis of proposals from the parties, which members are to be included in the Committee on EU Affairs. Since the 2018 elections, the Committee on EU Affairs has consisted of five members of the Social Democratic Party, four members of the Moderate Party, three members of the Sweden Democrats, and one member of the Centre Party, Left Party, Christian Democrats, Liberal Party and Green Party respectively. The Committee on EU Affairs must have at least as many substitutes – deputy members – as it does ordinary members. However, the number of deputy members is normally greater. The task of a deputy member is to take the ordinary member's place if necessary. The Committee on EU Affairs does not prepare proposals for decisions by the Riksdag in the same way as the parliamentary committees do. The Committee is a body for consultation and information. Consultations ahead of decisions in the Council of Ministers The Government consults the Committee on EU Affairs ahead of each meeting of the Council of the European Union – the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers is composed of a minister from the government of each member state. The Council takes decisions on EU legislation together with the European Parliament. The Government consults the Committee on EU Affairs on Sweden's position on matters that the Council of Ministers is ready to take a decision on. But the consultation does not only concern the final decision. During the course of negotiations, the Government continuously adopts positions in the Council on various matters and all of its positions must first be taken up in the Committee on EU Affairs. Unlike the parliamentary committees, the Committee on EU Affairs has an overview of all the matters to be decided in the EU. Consultations in the Committee on EU Affairs usually take place on Fridays, ahead of Council meetings the following week. Sometimes decisions need to be taken quickly, in which case the Government can consult the Committee on EU Affairs in writing. The Government also consults the Committee in writing regarding "A items", that is, items for which negotiations have been completed and which do not lead to a discussion in the Council. During difficult negotiations, the Government sometimes needs to obtain a new mandate from the Riksdag. It may then need to consult the Committee on EU Affairs during an ongoing meeting in the Council of Ministers. These consultations take place by telephone. Ministers meet the Committee on EU Affairs Which ministers are to participate in a particular meeting of the Council of Ministers will depend on the matters to be discussed. If, for example, energy issues are to be discussed, the energy ministers will meet. The Minister for Energy will then visit the Committee on EU Affairs on the Friday before the Council meeting. In the Committee on EU Affairs, the Minister presents what stand the Government considers that Sweden should take on each matter to be decided. After consulting the Committee on European Union Affairs, the Government has a mandate from the Riksdag which it is expected to follow in the negotiations in the Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister consults the Committee prior to European Council meetings The Prime Minister consults the Committee on EU Affairs prior to meetings of the European Council. These are meetings gathering the heads of state and government of the EU member states. The European Council draws up the EU's general guidelines and long-term priorities. Prior to the meeting, the Prime Minister receives a mandate from the Committee on EU Affairs regarding matters that will be raised at the meeting. The Government should observe the recommendations of the Committee on EU Affairs The Committee on EU Affairs gives the Government a mandate for the position the Riksdag considers the Government should put forward in EU negotiations. The Government is not legally obliged to act in compliance with what the Committee on EU Affairs has said, but the Committee on the Constitution has established that the Government should observe the Committee on EU Affairs' advice and opinions. The Committee on the Constitution has stressed that if the Government does not act in compliance with the mandate it has received from the Committee on EU Affairs, it must have very good reasons for its actions. If the Government does not follow the mandate given to it by the Committee on EU Affairs, it risks criticism, and ultimately, the Riksdag can lose confidence and hold a vote of no confidence in the Government. Examines the work of the Government Openness during consultations The Prime Minister's consultations with the Committee on EU Affairs ahead of the European Council meetings are normally open to the public and are broadcast on the Riksdag webcast service. Consultations prior to meetings of the Council of Ministers are held behind closed doors. Everything that is said during consultations in the Committee on EU Affairs is written down in records. After a fair copy has been made and approved, these are official documents, which everyone can access on the Riksdag website. However, some information is classified as secret and is not available to the public. Such information may concern the final stages of sensitive negotiations in the Council, or Sweden's reserve position should its primary position fail in negotiations. Cooperation with other parliaments The Committee on EU Affairs meets its counterparts in the parliaments of the other EU member states in order to discuss topical matters and the role of the national parliaments in the work of the EU. For example, it meets the EU bodies in the national parliaments every six months in the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC).