Analysis: Rejection will ease the pressure on Britain and Denmark to join eurozone

Sweden's voters have struck a profound blow to Europe's single currency, giving a vote of no confidence in the euro and making early Danish and UK membership unlikely.

The result underlines the difficulty pro-Europeans face in winning any popular vote against opponents who portray their cause as elitist and remote from the voters. Not even the sympathy factor after the murder of the country's Foreign Minister and pro-euro campaigner Anna Lindh could swing the result.

At their weekend meeting in Italy, EU finance ministers urged Sweden to join the single currency and it is clear why they in Brussels were so keen for a "yes".

The eurozone needs economies like the Swedes' to bolster its credibility. The 12-nation bloc is facing stagnation and mounting budget deficits while Sweden is a model of Scandinavian efficiency. With growth at 2 per cent and unemployment at 4 per cent, Sweden outperforms the big eurozone economies. France is to break the euro's budget deficit ceiling of 3 per cent of GDP for three years in a row; Sweden has a surplus of some 1.4 per cent.

Admitting the Swedish kroner would have restored some faith in the euro when its rulebook, the so-called Stability and Growth Pact, is in disarray. But, with Swedish membership killed off for some years, the result will have a domino effect. Denmark's government has made clear it would like a second referendum to overturn the result of the vote in 2000 which rejected the euro. That prospect is now significantly further off. In turn, Britain will face less pressure to join since it will, for some years at least, have the company of two Scandinavian nations in the EU's outer economic tier.

Next to join the bloc may a few of the former Communist nations due to join the EU next year, but the addition of currencies such as the Polish zloty may not be so welcome to foreign exchange markets as the kroner.

Yesterday's vote showed how difficult it is to win a referendum for European integration. Recently the pro-European side has had a miserable run. Votes on the euro in Denmark three years ago, and on the Nice Treaty in Ireland in 2001 were both lost (the latter reversed by a second referendum the following year). None of the 12 nations that joined the euro consulted their people directly except France, which voted narrowly in favour of the Maastricht treaty.

In Sweden, special factors made the pro-euro case particularly difficult. Historically, Swedes have been aloof from international organisations, prizing the neutrality that kept them out of the world wars of the last century. The vote to join the EU in 1994 was won only by a narrow margin. The euro vote shows the fragility of support for engagement in Europe and how many Swedes are convinced they do things better than the EU. Many fear joining the euro would undermine their famously generous welfare state.

The "yes" campaign was at times ham-fisted, but it deployed resources several times greater than the "no" side and had the backing of most of the political and media establishment in Sweden. Yet even this was not enough.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat