The Swedish parliament decides on legislation, such as the Planning and Building Act and the Roads Act. Swedish laws are sometimes referred to as codes, such as the Environmental Code and the Land Code, but codes have the same status as laws. The word ‘code’ usually indicates that several laws have been merged to form one common regulation. Rules set by the government are called regulations, and these are used to specify the requirements in an overall and generally formulated law, such as the Environmental Code.
Central government authorities such as the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency may also be entitled to make rules that specify the requirements. These are known as government authority regulations. County Administrative Boards and municipalities also have the right to issue local regulations. All of these rules and regulations are binding, and create an obligation for compliance with requirements or entitlement to participate in processes.
Public advice is decided upon by central government authorities. Such advice shows people how to act in order to fulfil the requirements of a law or regulation, but this can also be done in a different way if it is similarly effective. Advice of this kind is not binding. Handbooks may be issued by authorities, among others, in order to support the application of regulations. Handbooks can include descriptions of regulations, legal processes and methods, but they do not state any rules of their own.
Examples of international legal rules include EU directives and conventions. Sweden’s commitments in accordance with these are incorporated into Swedish law. This means that we apply Swedish regulations, not the directives. EU regulations have a direct effect, which means that they do not need to be incorporated into Swedish law.