• Sweden edition
Liberal EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström

Liberal EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström

Published: 06 Dec 2012 15:01 GMT+01:00
Updated: 06 Dec 2012 15:01 GMT+01:00

On Wednesday, Malmström, who serves as the EU Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, shared the spotlight in Brussels with US Attorney General Eric Holder as they unveiled a new global initiative to fight online child sex abuse.

"Our responsibility is to protect children wherever they live and to bring criminals to justice wherever they operate. The only way to achieve this is to team up for more intensive and better coordinated action worldwide," Malmström told reporters.

The Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online, which Malmström played a leading role in creating, marks the latest achievement in the career of the 44-year-old Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) politician, who took over as Sweden's Commissioner in Brussels from Margot Wallström in February 2010.

Once referred to by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt as a "convinced Europhile", much of Malmström's life and career has taken place outside of Sweden and down on the continent.

Born near Stockholm, Malmström spent many of her formative years in France, where she also studied literature in Paris at the Sorbonne.

Before entering politics, she worked in France, Germany, and Spain for Swedish ball bearings giant SKF, experiencing first-hand the kind of "free movement" associated with European Union citizenship and which she now helps shape and protect in her current role at the Commission.

According to Malmström, who lives with her husband and their twins in Brussels, her interest in European politics was awakened at an early age by a visit to the cemeteries near the beaches of Normandy where thousands of soldiers had perished during World War II.

Another formative experience took place when she was living in Barcelona and heard stories from a friend whose grandmother secretly sang Catalan children's songs while hiding in her cellar during Franco's fascist dictatorship.

"There are plenty of reasons Europeans should solve our problems around a drab conference table instead of in the trenches like we did before," she told the Expressen newspaper in 2009.

Returning to Sweden in 1989, Malmström eventually received a doctorate in political science in 1999 from the University of Gothenburg, where she also taught courses on European politics, immigration and terrorism.

Over the same period, she became increasingly active within the Liberal Party, eventually being elected to the governing board in 1997, and taking up a seat on the Västra Götaland Regional Council in 1998.

In 1999, however, she headed back to Europe as a Member of the European Parliament, where she served until 2006 in the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Constitutional Committees.

Malmström was then appointed as Sweden's Minister of European Union Affairs in the cabinet of Fredrik Reinfeldt following the September 2006 election victory of the centre-right Alliance coalition back home in Sweden.

In the latter half of 2009, Malmström played a leading role in coordinating Sweden's Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, which proved to be the perfect precursor to her appointment as Sweden's EU Commissioner.

"As a liberal, I believe in a strong Europe," she said at the time.

Soon after assuming her position, Malmström proposed a directive for toughening laws on child sex abuse, including a controversial proposal to block online access to child pornography.

She has also worked to tighten EU border controls, while at the same time striving to develop a common European migration and asylum system.

While the multi-lingual Malmström – she speaks English, Spanish, Italian, German, and French – has thrived in Brussels, she hasn't fallen in love with the city, but has nevertheless come to recognize its "charms".

"The big problem is that it's so frustratingly far away from the sea. For someone who grew up on [Sweden's] west coast, that's very irritating," she told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper in late 2010.

Indeed, spending time on and near the ocean is one of Malmström's few leisurely pursuits outside of politics, and inspired one of her more curious hobbies: collecting penguins.

"They are cool animals who live under extreme conditions, but still manage to have fun, it seems," Malmström told Expressen.

"And they're also feminists. The males incubate."

Take a look at our past Swedes of the Week.

David Landes

Follow David Landes on Twitter

Related links:

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swedish expert slams Norway terror alert
Terrorism expert Ranstorp and a policeman in Norway. Photos: TT

Swedish expert slams Norway terror alert

A Swedish terrorism expert has come forward criticizing the way Norway has handled its recent terror threat, saying the day the threat began was a "total problem in intelligence". READ  

Swedish nurse reported for patient 'death wave'

Swedish nurse reported for patient 'death wave'

A nurse in southern Sweden has been reported for abuse at a senior care centre after she allegedly waved to a colleague with the hand of a recently-dead resident. READ  

Pandas Plopp and Polly born in Swedish zoo
Plopp and Polly, the offspring of Pandora the panda. Photo: Kolmården

Pandas Plopp and Polly born in Swedish zoo

A pair of red panda cubs have been born in central Sweden, a wildlife park announced on Monday. READ  

Green Party ranked 'most gay friendly' in Sweden

Green Party ranked 'most gay friendly' in Sweden

The Green Party's views are 88.6 percent "LGBT-friendly", a Swedish LGBT rights group claimed on Monday, making the Greens the most gay-friendly of all Sweden's parliamentary parties. READ  

Man held on suspicion of murdering wife
Police on the scene. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Man held on suspicion of murdering wife

Updated: Police arrested a man in Copenhagen on the suspicion of killing his wife, whose body was found at the couple's home in southern Sweden during the weekend. READ  

Arlanda, Stockholm
Lightning bolt grounds flight to New York

Lightning bolt grounds flight to New York

Swedes bound for New York learned on Monday morning that their plane had been cancelled after it was hit by lightning during Sunday's thunderstorm. READ  

Elderly Swedish man stripped of his 35 cats

Elderly Swedish man stripped of his 35 cats

The County Administrative Board of Skåne has decided to confiscate the 35 cats of an 81-year-old man who was forbidden from having more than nine of the furry felines. READ  

Wild weather set to strike Sweden anew
Photo: TT

Wild weather set to strike Sweden anew

With Sunday's thunderstorm reported as the worst of the year so far, Sweden is bracing for round two on Monday as meteorologists predict more of the same. READ  

Swedish youth suicides hit 25-year high

Swedish youth suicides hit 25-year high

Last year 1,600 people in Sweden took their own lives - and for Swedes aged 15 to 24, the numbers haven't been so high since 1989. READ  

Floods replace Swedish heatwave
The Viking Lines ferry pictured was ripped away from the dock as a result of the storm. Per Gustavsson / TT

Floods replace Swedish heatwave

The Swedish summer was washed away on Sunday as thunderstorms caused chaos in Stockholm, including torrents of water flooding down stairways at metro stations. READ  

People-watching, June 26th - 28th. Get inside Stockholm's hottest nightclubs
Top ten Swedish taboos
Seven-year-old Swede cycles to Berlin
'Gaza conflict needs help, not empty rhetoric'
Swedes voted 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Blog updates

27 July

Approaching Stockholm (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I woke up in the comfort of my own little cabin on Eva and Rolf’s boat, it was 7:30am and I was feeling a bit groggy after a couple of beers with all the lovely locals the night before. The previous day had really taken its toll on my body and I was very stiff and..." READ »


24 July

Sharing our Pride: Celebrating Love & the LGBT Community! (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"It’s mid- July in Stockholm, and with much of the city on vacation, things can seem a little quiet – the streets, the bus, and the grocery store. One thing that has not paused for a summer break, though, is preparation for Stockholm’s Pride Festival, which will take place from July 28 to August 2...." READ »

Business & Money
Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
What's On in Sweden
People-watching July 23
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at: