NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

An Update: Sweden’s Journey to NATO Membership

January 17, 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of international alliances, Sweden’s path towards NATO membership has been marked by significant progress and strategic collaboration. As of the latest developments, the Accession Protocol has been signed, military integration is well underway, and Sweden is poised to become the 32nd member of the Alliance.

The overall process of Sweden’s Accession is spearheaded by NATO Headquarters with the signing of the Accession Protocols that took place in July 2022. Since then, twenty-nine of the current thirty-one NATO nations have ratified their bid to become a member, and as a consensus-based Alliance, all nations must approve any new membership.

At the 2023 NATO Summit held in Vilnius, Lithuania last July, the remaining two countries, Hungary and Türkiye, both expressed their commitment to progress the approval of Sweden through their parliamentary sessions.

On the military front, NATO Allied Command Transformation leads the coordination of the integration process through the Sweden Accession & Integration Working Group that was established in July 2022. To ensure that Sweden meets all military pre-conditions, the working group (including subject matter experts from across NATO working with their Swedish counterparts) facilitates collaboration across the following 10 Functional Areas of military integration: Administration, Equipment & Modernization, Force Structure, Education Training Exercises and Evaluation Policy & Individual Education and Training, Collective Training Exercises and Evaluation, Logistics, Medical, NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System, Communication and Information Systems, and Cyber Defence.

Formal meetings, including Annual Integration Conferences that report to NATO’s and Sweden’s higher military authorities, have provided regular updates on the agreed objectives and progress. Overall, Sweden’s military integration has moved swiftly, and the 2023 Annual Integration Conference at NATO HQ last June highlighted the significant progress achieved, with the consensus that all Functional Areas are now ready to transition to “routine NATO business” once Sweden’s Accession concludes.

Meanwhile, the political Accession process has continued. At a meeting with NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in early November 2023, Hungary’s President expressed her direct support for Sweden’s ratification, although she emphasized that the timeline remained subject to the Hungarian parliament’s final decision. Subsequently, at the November meeting of all NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs, both Hungary and Türkiye reaffirmed their intention to ratify Sweden’s Accession but without specifying any definite timelines.  After the meeting, the NATO Secretary General stressed that “we will continue to work on [Sweden’s membership] and the sooner the better. Because it will be good for Sweden. It will be good for NATO and good for all NATO Allies to have Sweden as a full member.”

Most recently, at the end of December 2023, the Turkish parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee approved Sweden’s Accession, moving the ratification process to their Speaker to bring it to the agenda of the Turkish General Assembly, which commences its next session this week.

Sweden’s military integration, led by Allied Command Transformation, is at a stage where a Final Integration Conference could be formally completed. However, this awaits the final ratifications by Hungary and Türkiye. The culmination of these diplomatic and military efforts is poised to solidify Sweden’s position as the 32nd member of the Alliance, marking a significant milestone in the enduring relationship between NATO and Sweden.