Tobias Billström

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Tobias Billström
Tobias Billstrom 1c399 0324.jpg
First Deputy Speaker of the Riksdag
Incumbent
Assumed office
29 September 2014
Monarch Carl XVI Gustaf
Preceded by Susanne Eberstein
Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy
In office
6 October 2006 – 29 September 2014
Monarch Carl XVI Gustaf
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt
Preceded by Barbro Holmberg
Succeeded by Morgan Johansson
Minister for Employment
In office
7 July 2010 – 5 October 2010
Monarch Carl XVI Gustaf
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt
Preceded by Sven Otto Littorin
Succeeded by Hillevi Engström
Member of the Swedish Riksdag
for Malmö Municipality
Incumbent
Assumed office
30 September 2002
Personal details
Born (1973-12-27) 27 December 1973 (age 40)
Malmö, Sweden
Political party Moderate Party
Alma mater Lund University
University of Cambridge
Website www.tobiasbillstrom.se

Tobias Lennart Billström (born 27 December 1973 in Malmö) is a Swedish politician of the Moderate Party and has been First Deputy Speaker of the Riksdag since 29 September 2014.

He served as Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy in the Swedish Government from 2006 to 2014 and has been a Member of the Swedish Riksdag for Malmö Municipality since 2002. Although several controversial statements regarding immigration and immigrants, Billström is the longest-serving Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy in Sweden.

Education[edit]

Billström has a Master of Philosophy in Historical Studies from the University of Cambridge and a fil. mag. in history from the University of Lund. His essays in history touched the subject areas that affected British colonial history, especially officers stationed in India and Jamaica. Billström became politically active through the Moderate Youth League. During his studies, he was active in the Confederation of Swedish Conservative and Liberal Students as chairman of Malmö Association FMS Gryphus, and sat on the board of the student union Lunds humanistkår. Tobias Billström began his studies in Lund in the Philosophy Department, where he read 20 points Scientific Basics for Victoria Höög.

Member of Parliament[edit]

Tobias Billström became after his election to the Riksdag in 2002 a deputy in the Education Committee, Employment Committee and in the Cultural Committee. In 2003 he became a member of the Education Committee where he received a special responsibility for issues related to higher education and research. In April 2005, Tobias Billström became a member of the Social Security Committee and the Moderate Partys spokesperson on issues related to migration and integration. During the period from 2003 to 2007, Billström was Chairman of the Moderate Party in Malmö. Tobias Billström became a member of the board of the Swedish Migration Board in November 2005, a position he left when he was appointed minister in 2006.

Tobias Billström participated as a Member of Parliament in the discussion of migration policy. He opposed the temporary asylum law that was implemented by the social democratic Persson cabinet, arguing that the law was not fair and that it was based on collective judgment.

Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy[edit]

Billström became Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy on 6 October 2006.[1] Billström was stationed in the Ministry of Justice, unlike his immediate predecessors, who had been stationed in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Labour Immigration[edit]

The Reinfeldt cabinet set a new target for the Swedish migration policy after it took office in October 2006, which was to increase the opportunities for labour immigration. Tobias Billström has emphasized the importance of creating a balance in the policy area where asylum issues often dominate.[2] He also pointed out that labour immigration today is a way to help developing countries beyond the traditional aid.[3]

Re-establishment support[edit]

The government implemented, on 1 August 2007, a re-establishment support to facilitate the repatriation of those who have had their asylum applications rejected.[4]

Middle East[edit]

Tobias Billström has promoted that countries in Europe and the world should help refugees from Iraq. He has emphasized the need for a very strong common asylum and migration policy, and that this could give more Iraqis in need of protection to access this.

The work was given a start with the article that Billström wrote with Cecilia Malmström in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.[5] The message has since been represented to the Council of the European Union and at several international conferences where Billström represented Sweden, including in Geneva[6] and in Sharm el-Sheikh.[7]

From 30 March until 4 April 2007, Tobias Billström, as the first European Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, made a trip to Syria and Jordan to create a picture of the situation of the Iraqi refugees residing there. At the time he was interviewed in Damascus by Sveriges Radio.[8]

In classified documents revealed by wikileaks, Tobias Billström together with Carl Bildt mentioned in their 2007 visit to Baghdad for the American Ambassador Ryan Crocker the Iraqi refugee situation in Sweden, in specific the reports entail the ministers mentioning honor killings and the Swedish opinion of restricting immigration. [9]

Controversial statements[edit]

In an interview about illegal immigrants hidden in Sweden on 18 March 2013 Billström said that "Sometimes we have the impression that the person who is hidden lives with a nice blonde Swedish lady in around the age of 50 to 60 who wants to help. But that's not true. Most people live with their compatriots who is not blond and blue-eyed."[10]

The statement was severely criticized by both opposition parties as well as the other governing parties in the Alliance coalition government. The leader of the Moderate Youth League, youth league of the Moderate Party, Erik Bengtzboe also criticized the statement and called for Billström to apologize and to think about what he says.[11]

Some even called for Billströms resignation from the position as Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy.[12] The right wing Sweden Democrats party leader Jimmie Åkesson welcomed Billströms statement and said "that he was on the right track".[13]

In the early afternoon on the same day, Billström officially apologized for his statement and said that his words came out in the wrong way, and that what he said was not what he really meant. Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Prime Minister of Sweden, welcomed Billströms apology.[14]

First Deputy Speaker[edit]

Billström was elected First Deputy Speaker on 29 September 2014.

Personal life[edit]

At the age of 40, Billström is the second youngest member of the cabinet, after Annie Lööf. He is also the first openly bisexual person to serve as minister in a Swedish cabinet.[15] He is married to Sofia Åkerman with whom he has one daughter.

TV license controversy[edit]

On 11 October 2006, less than a week after he took office, it was revealed that Billström deliberately had neglected to pay his television licence for ten years, despite owning a television. Billström stated that his neglect was based on his political standpoint against public service, but that he had come to appreciate public service and that he believed that citizens and especially legislators should follow the law. Billström also expressed his ambition to repay his debt with interest.[16] However, on 12 October 2006, Radiotjänst i Kiruna AB, a private agency tasked with collecting the license fees, filed criminal charges against Billström together with two other ministers in the Reinfeldt Cabinet: Cecilia Stegö Chilò and Maria Borelius, with the latter two resigning on 14 October and 16 October 2006. Billström has stated that he intends to remain in office and has no intention of resigning.[17]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Barbro Holmberg
Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy
2006–2014
Succeeded by
Morgan Johansson
Preceded by
Sven Otto Littorin
Minister for Employment
2010
Succeeded by
Hillevi Engström
Political offices
Preceded by
Susanne Eberstein
First Deputy Speaker of the Riksdag
2014–present
Incumbent