06/2009: Tobias Billström

JUNE 2009

Tobias Billström
Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy of Sweden


‘’Key priorities for Sweden’s Presidency of the EU
in the fields of immigration and asylum”


Ü Eurasylum: Sweden will hold the Presidency of the European Council as from 1st July 2009, for six months. Can you guide us through the key priorities of your Presidency in the fields of immigration and asylum?

Ü Tobias Billström: A top priority will, of course, be the adoption of a new five-year programme for the Justice and Home Affairs area, the so-called Stockholm programme. We will also focus on moving the work forward on the Common European Asylum System, and we will therefore make an effort to advance the negotiations on the first asylum package, i.e the Dublin and Eurodac Regulations, the Receptions conditions Directive and the proposal for a European Support Office.

Ü Eurasylum: One of the highlights of your Presidency will be the adoption of the five-year Stockholm Programme, which will succeed the Hague Programme of 2004 and which will set out the core aims and concrete measures of EU Justice and Home Affairs policies as from 2010. In particular, it is envisaged that the Stockholm Programme will build and expand on the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, and the EC Communications of 17 June 2008 on immigration and asylum. Can you outline some of the key priorities and proposed measures of this new five-year programme?

Ü Tobias Billström: The European Pact on Migration and asylum will be a central element of the Stockholm Programme, as well as the conclusions of the Future Group. Developing a well-managed migration policy will be a key element along with the continuous work on the Common European Asylum System and the development of the Union’s external dimension in this area.

Ü Eurasylum: The need to strike the right balance between effective immigration controls and facilitation of selective economic migration and other forms of legal migration, or what the current Czech EU Presidency has termed a ”complementary and flexible migration policy” has ascended the EU policy agenda over the last two years. Can you highlight and discuss the main initiatives to be taken by your Presidency in the field of legal economic migration?

Ü Tobias Billström: The European Commission has announced that it will present two new Directives in the field of legal migration, Intra-corporate transferees and seasonal workers. The Swedish Presidency will of course work on these matters and continue to stress the importance of opening new channels for legal migration to the EU. This is an essential component, not least when trying to tackle the situation in and around the Mediterranean Sea.