Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson has announced his government will apply to join the European Community, saying Sweden's policy of neutrality is no obstacle for membership in the trade bloc.
Carlsson told Parliament of the decision after final deliberations with the Foreign Advisory Council, which includes King Carl Gustaf.The prime minister said Sweden would continue its policy barring participation in military alliances or other binding military pacts other than its U.N. obligations.
"Therefore, Sweden cannot take part in a common defense policy or a mutual defense commitment within the EC framework without forgoing its policy of neutrality," he said. But he added, "There is no reason to believe that the EC is now in a process of turning into a military alliance."
France, however, has led recent efforts to discuss joint defense policies among European Community members.
Ireland, also neutral, is a member of the EC.
Carlsson was expected to deliver the application July 1 to Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers, who will then be EC chairman.
Lubber's spokesman said the Dutch favor Sweden joining the 12-nation trade bloc but ruled out EC membership until after 1992.
"We welcome (the announcement) because we are in favor in general of Sweden entering the EC," said the spokesman, Fred Loertzer. "But as you know much has to be done within the community first . . . It will take some years before any final decision can be taken."
"As far as we know Sweden realizes that," Loertzer added.