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 Stefan Löfven (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: Anders Löwdin Members from all parties The Committee on EU Affairs has the same composition as the parliamentary committees, with 17 members representing all eight parties in the Riksdag. Since the 2018 elections, the Committee has consisted of five Social Democrats, four Moderates, three Sweden Democrats, and one member from the Centre Party, Left Party, Christian Democrats, Liberal Party and Green Party. The Committee on EU Affairs does not prepare proposals for decisions by the Riksdag in the same way as the parliamentary committees do. It 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, which is commonly known as the Council of Ministers. The Council is composed of a minister from the government of each member state. The Council takes decisions regarding EU legislation together with the European Parliament. The Government consults the Committee on EU Affairs regarding Sweden's position on matters that the Council of Ministers is to take a decision on. The consultation does not only concern the final decision. During the negotiation process, the Government adopts positions on an ongoing basis on various matters in the Council, and all 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 currently to be decided by 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. During especially delicate negotiations, however, the Government may need to consult the Committee regarding a new Swedish position by telephone from Brussels. Ministers meet the Committee on EU Affairs Which ministers are to participate in a particular meeting of the Council of Ministers depends on the matters to be discussed. If, for example, energy matters are to be discussed, the energy ministers will meet. The energy minister will then visit the Committee on EU Affairs the Friday before the meeting in the Council of Ministers. In the Committee on EU Affairs, the minister presents the position the Government considers that Sweden should take on each matter to be decided. The consultation in the Committee results in a mandate from the Riksdag, which the Government is expected to follow in 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 of 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 Otherwise, it risks criticism in the Riksdag. 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 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. After a fair copy has been made and approved, this becomes an official document, 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 involve 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. 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). An important task in COSAC is to exchange experiences about how the parliaments can monitor the governments' actions in the EU.