Denmark: radical changes in migration policy

Today in Denmark will be the discussion and adoption of an innovative law on asylum seekers – from now on they will wait for their fate to be decided outside Europe, and reception centers will be located in other countries.

It is not known for certain where the migrants will stay during the processing of their documents. None of the government’s many scenarios has yet agreed to accept asylum seekers. However, Copenhagen is negotiating with five to ten states, according to the government, which, however, does not name.

Denmark is known for its tough immigration policy, so the new law should go through the parliamentary stage without any problems. According to the Athens News Agency, he is supported by the right and extreme right, with only a few factions on the left opposing.

The bill aims to ensure that asylum seekers in Denmark remain in the third country even after a positive decision with the status. According to it, an asylum seeker in Denmark, after registering the data, is transferred to a reception center located outside the EU. An exception can be made for persons with serious medical conditions.

If the application is not approved, the immigrant will have to leave the host country. But even in case of a positive decision, the asylum seeker will not be able to return to the Scandinavian country. Martin Lemberg-Pedersen, immigration specialist from Copenhagen University, voices an interesting nuance:

The government bill also stipulates that asylum seekers will not be allowed to return to Denmark, they will simply have refugee status in a third country.

In general, the new law is evidence of one of the most restrictive immigration policies in Europe: the abolition of residence permits for Syrians (areas of their homeland are now considered safe), tightening the law against “ghettos”, setting an upper limit for the number of “non-Western” residents in the neighborhoods, setting an official goal of “zero refugees” in the country.

The process of housing refugees will be carried out by third countries, Denmark will take over the funding. Among the possible countries, according to the Austrian media, Egypt, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Eritrea are mentioned. Danish Immigration Minister Mathias Tesfage emphasizes in an interview with AFP:

This system must certainly be created within the framework of international conventions. This is a prerequisite for an agreement with third countries.

Professor at Copenhagen University Kasper Hansen notes that the plan promoted by Ms. Frederiksen completes the transformation of Danish social democracy in the area of ​​immigration. Acceptance of proposals once put forward only by the extreme right is now widespread in almost the entire political spectrum of the country. In 2019, only 761 immigrants received asylum, in 2020 this figure was 600, and in 2015 – a record 10,000. Denmark accepts an order of magnitude fewer refugees than Sweden and Germany (in proportion to the country’s population).

The new bill has seriously alarmed international organizations. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said it “opposes the principles on which international cooperation in refugee affairs is based.” And Henrik Nordentoft, the Commission’s representative for the Nordic countries, warns: “By implementing such radical and restrictive changes (…) Denmark runs the risk of causing a domino effect.”

Tim White sees the adoption of the law as Copenhagen’s way of abandoning its obligations to its European partners. And this while Denmark is already enjoying the exemption from cooperation on asylum and immigration issues. In a conversation with a French agency, he noted:

Refugees will seek refuge in Germany, France and Sweden. This (bill) will not prevent them from crossing the Mediterranean, they simply will not come to Denmark, which will thus be relieved of their responsibilities in this area.

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