Regulatory hierarchy – from law to general recommendation
This is a description of what regulations are and of the regulation hierarchy in Sweden.
The term 'regulations'
'Regulations' is an umbrella term for what is laid down in Acts and Ordinances as well as in the mandatory provisions and general recommendations of government agencies. Not all regulations are binding. General recommendations state what can or should be done to meet the binding regulations that must be met. Binding regulations are Acts, Ordinances and mandatory provisions.
Who does what?
The Government adopts Ordinances.
Boverket drafts mandatory provisions and general recommendations.
Regulations relate to each other in a predetermined way.
There is a kind of law that needs to be mentioned separately: fundamental laws. Sweden has four fundamental laws: the Instrument of Government, the Act of Succession, the Freedom of the Press Act, and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression. These fundamental laws stand above all other laws, which means that other laws may not conflict with the content of fundamental laws.
Sweden's laws (Acts) are adopted by the Riksdag (Parliament) and constitute the foundation of Swedish legislation. It is possible for Acts to contain provisions allowing the Government, or the agency determined by the Government, to issue mandatory provisions (authorisation). When Ordinances and mandatory provisions are drafted, they must keep within the stipulations of their Acts. That is, Ordinances and mandatory provisions provide a more precise clarification of what is laid down in the Acts.
Sweden's Ordinances are adopted by the Government.
Certain kinds of provisions do not need to be regulated through an Act. Instead, the level of Ordinance is sufficient for this purpose. This is often the case with grants handled by Boverket.
But it is common for Ordinances to clarify and specify what is laid down in Acts. In order for the Government to draft an Ordinance in an area that is regulated through an Act, the Riksdag must give the Government an authorisation to draft more detailed regulations.
The guidance provided in Acts and Ordinances is not always sufficient, and there might be a need for even more detailed regulations. In such cases, mandatory provisions are drafted. It is government agencies that draft mandatory provisions. In order for a government agency to draft mandatory provisions, the Ordinance must contain an authorisation.
A general recommendation states how someone can or should go about meeting a binding regulation in an Act, Ordinance or mandatory provision. A general recommendation may be seen as a toolbox presenting a method or solution. But if you choose not to do things in the manner stated in the general recommendation, you must be able to show that the binding regulations are still met.
A government agency may draft a general recommendation without having an authorisation as long as the general recommendation lies within the agency's area of activity. A general recommendation may be drafted to directly accompany an Act, Ordinance or mandatory provision.
The EU influences our regulations, in part through EU Directives and EU Regulations. EU Directives must be implemented in the legislation of Sweden (and other countries), meaning that Swedish regulations must be amended in order to achieve the purpose of the Directives. An EU Regulation immediately becomes a part of Swedish legislation. If Sweden were to have regulations that conflict with an EU Regulation, these would not apply. An example of an EU Regulation is the Construction Products Regulation, CPR. You can read more about the CPR in related information.